The dueling realities of asset-centric field service management abruptly came to prominence as COVID-19 spread across the world. Firms on track to implement predictive service delivery gained greater visibility into assets in the field and maximized their performance. But many had yet to change course.

Teodora Gaici

Author Teodora Gaici | Copperberg

Industry players who nixed the idea of anticipating asset failures opted for providing reactive-based services — meaning they had to wait until the asset failed to take action. Those days are now over.

As 2020 comes to a close, firms are growing more convinced that keeping critical assets up and running requires a shift in maintenance behaviors and perhaps more remarkably, a transition to outcome-based service models.

Taking a wait-and-see approach is rarely a wise decision. The smart move towards predictive maintenance currently has the highest probability of maximizing a company’s asset performance and implicitly — its profitability.

Joe Kenny, Vice President of Global Customer Transformation at ServiceMax, recently remarked during his keynote speech at Copperberg’s 2020 Field Service US Summit Listen to Your Assets, that “waiting until an asset fails is the most expensive method of repair.”

It is less expensive to identify (or accurately predict!) issues early on by routinely monitoring the condition of the firm’s assets. When organizations enhance their business visibility to have a clearer understanding of how their assets operate in the field, they are also better positioned to build resilient service offerings. That is to say, beefing up visibility prompts industry players to listen more closely to their assets — which is, following Joe Kenny’s keynote presentation — an overriding prerequisite for shifting from a reactive service strategy to an outcome-based model. Moving away from traditional methods of service and towards outcome-based strategies is, according to ServiceMax, an investment in customer success; an invariable pledge, if you will, to actively service products in an increasingly connected era.

A Firm’s Assets Are Its Most Important Service Consultants

Globally, 400 thousand technicians are relying daily on ServiceMax — a company with 41 million locations within its database. One way to examine this distinguished achievement is to simply look at Asset 360; this trusted platform designed for asset-centric field service organizations is the result of a successful partnership between ServiceMax and Salesforce. The need to increase machine uptime by having a 360-degree view of assets has driven the joint efforts of both field service management leaders to build Asset 360.

Looking more closely, we find that Asset 360 also supports the transition to outcome-based services, as it contributes to an organization’s prowess to listen to its assets. Joe Kenny cleverly highlights why this matters:

“The key to outcome-based services is really the ability to listen to your asset; that’s the entry point to transitioning from equipment and associated service contracts to more flexible and profitable outcome-based services.”

The putative benefits are confirmed. When a firm truly listens to what its assets are saying, it will consistently recognize:

  • How a piece of equipment operates in the field;
  • How specific equipment will look like when it is about to fail;
  • What periodic maintenance is — and is not — needed;
  • How to cater to the needs of particular assets in specific environments.

Yet for many, the switchover to outcome-based services is rather prodigious — which forces industry players to ask a fundamental question: How exactly should they go about listening to their assets? Part of the answer resides in the firm’s ability to monitor the condition of its assets in the field. Having an increased maintenance maturity is, therefore, crucial to examine how the equipment operates and ensure uninterrupted service. Using a more predictive or prescriptive maintenance strategy to prevent asset failure gives rise to a set of perhaps unintended benefits, including:

  • 47% uptime improvement
  • 17% cost reduction
  • 11% HSEQ risk reduction
  • 16% lifetime extension of aging assets

A well-planned outcome-based strategy typically comes full circle. It starts with listening to what the firm’s assets are saying so that professionals can predict future issues — and then, it goes back to paying close attention to the company’s assets, as meticulously selling the outcome of field service (and not the product itself) requires continually updated knowledge to efficiently service and maintain products.

Ultimately, it all comes down to “listening to — and knowing — assets so well that [firms] can maintain them utilizing only scheduled maintenance.”  There is a certain interoperability between these techniques, illustrated by Joe Kenny in his Listen to Your Assets session as follows:

“The greater your ability to listen to your assets, the greater your ability to modify the way that you maintain them, [and] the greater your ability to tailor the maintenance to each individual asset rather than work off of broad-based conservative estimates.”

A firm’s asset performance degrades naturally over time. But having information about how assets perform in the field prior to the failure helps industry players to avoid reactive responses and maintain well-functioning systems.

A Success Story of Outcome-Based Service Delivery

By now, asset-intensive companies may have a well-defined plan on how to run their assets more efficiently, but putting it into motion is sometimes harder than it initially appears. Quite often, firms also have to tweak their strategy as they go with a new data-led approach. In cases like this, it is prudent to be inspired by how other companies are meeting their asset-centric standards.

Joe Kenny exemplified part of Schneider Electric’s journey from an equipment and maintenance vendor to an end-to-end integrated solutions provider:

“They realized that they needed to service their equipment differently than they had originally planned […]. For example, once you have the asset data, you can understand how that asset needs to be maintained in the field. The asset can basically design and inform the way that you organize your maintenance team to deliver service in the way the asset tells you to; and in Schneider Electric’s case, they completely reorganized their service delivery team based on the information that was coming off the asset.”

Today, Schneider Electric — a firm that specializes in energy management and automation — provides customers with the uptime that they have come to require, rather than merely offering hardware and service contracts.

Watch Joe Kenny’s full-length keynote presentation at this year’s Field Service US Summit to learn how to cultivate the ability to listen to your firm’s assets and maximize their performance; the Listen to Your Assets session is now available on demand.

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