It’s no question that repairs are getting more challenging in the field service industry and technicians are needing more help. Access to information is the number one ask-for by technicians in the field. It has led to the boom in field service management software giving technicians access to service history through their field service mobile apps. It has also sparked plenty of interest in emerging technologies that will help make repairs easier.
With mobile field service software now the cornerstone for many field service management teams, interest is growing in emerging technologies that can help technicians’ complete repairs faster. Technicians have expressed their desire to have more access to knowledge to help them with repairs. And with it, it’s helping to improve first-time fix rates and eliminate a secondary visit.
Some of these emerging technologies haven’t hit 100 percent just yet, but they are growing momentum. Field service management teams are finding any way they can to help their technicians in the field and they are coming up with some unique solutions. Let’s take a look at some of the emerging technologies in the field service management industry and how they help technicians in the field.
Internet of Things
We’ll start with a technology that is highly talked about in the field service management space, but one that still hasn’t reached its full potential. Internet of Things (IoT) technology is the use of sensors to detect changes in equipment. As equipment begins to fail or acts out of the normal parameters, an alert is sent to the field service management software to trigger a repair request. For field service technicians, this alerts them directly to the issue and where the repair needs to happen. It can take a lot of the guess work out of field service work, reducing triage time. With information on what is failing, technicians can ensure they have the correct parts on hand to reduce the need to come back for a second visit.
IoT technology has emerged as a way to turn the field service landscape from a preventative maintenance repair schedule to a predictive one. Technicians aren’t trying to prevent a failure in the future but are working on a problem before it happens. This reduces equipment downtime, costs for your customers to have more repairs than needed and gives your customers peace of mind that someone is monitoring their most important equipment.
On-Demand Training Videos
With technicians having access to smart devices, such as phones and tablets, there is a growing demand for a library of training documentation, including videos. In fact, it’s the most requested emerging technology that technicians want to get their hands on. Technicians firmly believe that having on-demand training videos available through their field service mobile app would make the most improvement in their quality of work. Technicians who find themselves in trouble on a job site could use their mobile app and watch the repair using the on-demand service.
This a is a perfect way to utilize the experience of older technicians and have it pass down to the next-generation of field service workers. With the focus now being on hiring technicians with more customer service-based skills, this is a great way to bring them up to speed. On-demand videos can be attached to checklists and work orders, giving the technician a quick link to the video that will support them the most when in the field.
Live Video Streaming
Video streaming has taken over the social media world, and it’s starting to have practical uses for field service workers as well. On-demand training videos are great supporting tools to have, and live video streaming is an extension of that. It allows the technician to be live with someone, working through the repair together, as opposed to watching a perfectly edited video. With streaming services readily available, technicians can help each other on the job site by streaming their repairs to other technicians.
Typically, a technician will call for support and someone will walk them through the repair over the phone. However, voice only support is often ineffective, as describing complex issues can prove to be difficult. Instead, the technician can stream live video to an expert who can actually see what is happening in real-time. The problem the technician sees, the expert sees, giving them more information than they would get with just verbal communication. Live video streaming is a way for technicians to show their real problems from the field, as opposed to being told how a repair should be completed without seeing all the issues involved.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
Augmented reality and virtual reality are tools being deployed by some field service organizations. They are heavily talked about by field service management experts, but they are still looking to find their place in the field. This could be mainly due to the technology still not capable of simulating the real-world problems technicians face. But there are some promising signs for the future and virtual reality will be called upon to help train the next generation of technicians. It’s a tool being used to get inexperienced technicians experience in the field, without being in the field. This again, comes from the shift in hiring practices to focus on soft skills such as customer service and sales skills over wrench skills.
Augmented reality is being pushed as a way to help customers address their own problems or give technicians an overlay of what they should see. Augmented reality can help with complex maintenance through the use of AR headsets and can help in cases where repairs are needed in remote areas. And like VR, it can help train the novice technician through simulations and hands on experience.
Another emerging technology that field service management professionals are trying to use are wearable technologies. This can be smart watches, bands and smart glasses, giving the technician information on their person, as opposed to having it beside them and having to hold. Smart watches can display instructions from a checklist or repair notes, while glasses can display AR information and other diagnostic information.
Much like AR and VR, the technology is still improving, and practical uses are emerging, as field service management teams find ways to reduce tools the technicians need to carry. They also can be safety wearables that monitor things like temperature, alerting technicians when the situation is becoming dangerous and they need to move away from the repair site.