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Proactive Preventative Maintenance: How IoT and Field Service Management Software Helps

FieldElite, our mobile workforce management software, has been key to several industries’ return on investment. Whether it’s for plumbing, electrical, property management, cleaning, and maintenance, FieldElite has provided data centralisation for efficient management of these business activities. 

Field service management software is important to utilise current workload, and also helps resolve future issues. We’re talking about a proactive approach to preventative maintenance. 

How exactly do field service managements help in preventative maintenance? 

The answer lies in how field service management is interlinked with IoT in predicting future jobs for the mobile service industry.  

What is IoT? 

Simply put, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of devices and sensors connected to the internet. These “things” (e.g. your smartphone or smartwatch) enable data to be sent and be received without human intervention.

Fundamentally, IoT is about devices being connected to the internet to allow remote monitoring

For many years now, remote monitoring for IT infrastructure has been widely used. 

What’s new that we’re experiencing right now is even the smallest devices — individual light bulbs and sensors — can have a network and internet connection, allowing entire systems to be monitored in great detail. 

Implementing IoT and accessing data can be challenging for most service organisations. However, when combined with predictive analytics and field management software, it can have a huge potential impact on individual businesses and the service industry as a whole. 

What is Preventative Maintenance? 

Preventive maintenance refers to regular, routine maintenance to help keep equipment up and running, preventing any unplanned downtime and expensive costs from unanticipated equipment failure. 

The goal of preventative maintenance is to decrease the likelihood of a machine or an equipment’s failure by performing regular maintenance. 

Preventative management can be very complex, especially for companies with a fleet of equipment or customers. It requires careful planning and scheduling of maintenance on equipment before there is an actual problem. 

Also, preventive maintenance is evolving. It’s not just about scheduling the same work every month to prevent failure anymore. Today, working smarter with better information about equipment conditions is critical to ensure maintenance is effective.

That’s where IoT and field service management software, like FieldElite, comes in. Together, they organise and carry out preventive maintenance needs for service industries. 

How IoT and FieldElite Helps in Preventative Maintenance

With FieldElite and IoT technology, you get the best in preventive maintenance management.

  • Evaluation of equipment or machines — the condition of machines or equipment is evaluated in order to predict when maintenance needs to be performed. 
  • Automated work order — automated time-based work order creation
  • Full condition-based plans — allows you to do the following:
    • Right-size your maintenance work
    • Lower costs
    • Extend the life of your or customer’s assets 
  • Quicker reporting — due to its efficient and automated nature, IoT and field service management software can reduce a field technician’s average report time from two weeks to two days, therefore boosting your cash flow! 

That’s the most important result a mobile service management software can produce (in connection with preventative maintenance). It’s cost-saving! This can be achieved over routine or time-based preventive maintenance, as tasks are only performed when they are needed. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) and field service management software is changing field service as we know it. 

Companies who adapt and utilise these technologies will benefit the most from the resulting competitive advantage of preventative maintenance. 

Start elevating every field service experience now!  

Our field service software, FieldElite helps you: 
  • Accepts jobs in the field
  • Automate appointment scheduling
  • Manage scheduled jobs 
  • Get real-time visibility into all operations
  • Have a clear and easy viewing of job locations 
  • Resolve field service calls faster 
  • Enable mobile workers to get the job done right
  • Keep customers updated at every step 
  • Create quotations and accept payments 
  • Analyse efficient reports from field technicians
  • Helps in proper preventative maintenance management. 

Learn how to schedule jobs to field workers with ease. Check out FieldElite

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Field Service Organisations should use Digital Forms

For many Organisations, making use of paper based forms, is a common practice and method for collecting data and recording transactions. Whether it be for producing Quotations, Invoices or even getting sign off on completed jobs.

Paper based forms and documents have been the main stay of office communication and productivity for over 200 years. Paper-based forms are used to create anything from Invoices, Receipts, Purchase Orders, Contracts to the humble internal memo!

Paper-based forms radically improved productivity, efficiency and compliance by enabling people to create paper based instructions and enabling others to add additional information as required.

Over the past 3 decades or so, modern business environments have gradually been evolving towards the concept of the Paperless Office, resulting in the humble Paper based document migrating to a Digital Counterpart. The ease of availability of various Word Processing and Spreadsheet software products and cheap and easy data storage capacity have resulted in the Proliferation of thousands if not millions of files and documents being stored somewhere on the Company’s IT infrastructure.

People often create Digital Templates of forms that may be printed off and supplied to staff to complete using Pen and Paper or electronically. The data collation and reporting is often process

Often when conducting Operational Reviews, it is commonly found that the processing and analysing paper based forms is the least productive, efficient and profitable areas of business, although it is often vitally important.

Benefits of using digital forms for data collection

The ability to collect and analyse data effectively is increasingly important to businesses. Companies gather, examine, process and build reports on large volumes of data. Traditionally, they have deployed mail surveys, telephone interviews, door-to-door interviews as methods to collect information. With the ongoing digitisation, these procedures have become old fashioned.The digital transformation is changing many business operations at a high speed and a great deal of processes that were executed manually are now accomplished using digital methods.

Technology has had a major impact on how to approach data research and has provided researchers new tools that have transformed and improved data collection and analysis. The pace of change requires companies to be able to react quickly and adapt themselves to changing demands from customers and market conditions.

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EU Energy Efficiency Directive & UK’s ESOS

In 2012 the European Union passed its EU Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) into law. This aims to reduce overall energy consumption by 20% by 2020. It placed an obligation on member states to pass back-to-back local legislation by June 2014.

EED Guidelines

The EED provides specific guidelines it expects member nations to address. The list is long and here are a few excerpts from it:

  • Large companies must use energy audits to identify ways to cut their energy consumption
  • Small and medium companies must be incentivised to voluntarily take similar steps
  • Public sector bodies must purchase energy-efficient buildings, products and services
  • Private energy-consumers must be empowered with information to help manage demand
  • Energy distributors / resellers must cut their own consumption by 1.5% annually
  • Legislators are free to substitute green building technology e.g. through better insulation
  • Every year, European governments must audit 3% of the buildings they own

Definition of Energy Audit

An energy-consumption audit is a question of measuring demand throughout a supply grid, with particular attention to individual modules and high demand equipment. While this could be an exercise repeated every four years to satisfy ESOS, it makes more sense to incorporate it into the monthly energy billing cycle.

Because energy use is not consistent but varies according to production cycle, this can produce reams of printouts designed to frustrate busy managers. ecoVaro offers an inexpensive, cloud-based analytic service that effortlessly accepts client data and returns it in the form of high-level graphic summaries.

Potential ESOS Beneficiaries

As many as 9,000 UK companies are obligated to do energy audits because they employ more than 250 employees, have a balance sheet total over £36.5m or an annual turnover in excess of £42m. Any smaller enterprise that finds energy a significant input cost, should also consider enlisting Ecovaro to help it to:

  • Obtain a better understanding of the energy side of their business
  • Achieve energy savings and share in a estimated £3bn bonanza to 2030
  • Reduce carbon emissions to help meet their CRC commitments

More About ecoVaro

We offer web-based energy management software that helps you measure and manage energy costs. This strips data from your meters and generates personalised reports on a dashboard you control. This information helps you accurately zoom in on worthwhile opportunities. With Ecovaro on your side, ESOS truly becomes an Energy Saving OPPORTUNITY Scheme.

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UK Hauliers Pull Together on ESOS

ESOS is what UK business needed, to encourage it to become more responsible for the environmental consequences of making money. Government has met with industry leaders to hammer out the finer details. Now there are heartening signs of intra-industry collaboration, for the example the FTA approach we discuss here.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is one of the UK’s biggest trade associations, and exists to represent the interests of companies moving goods by air, rail, sea and road. It is their representative at national, European and local level that advises them on legal compliance. In February 2015, it announced plans to help the industry comply with ESOS too.

The association has been active since the announcement of the UK’s Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme. It has engaged with government and membership through the portal of its Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme (LCRS). The Environment Agency has singled this out as a benchmark other industries could follow.

FTA general manager for consultancy and tendering Karen Packham recently said, “With our highly experienced and fully qualified team of transport auditors …the FTA is best placed to offer practical advice and is able to provide specialist audits to ensure members are fully compliant … and will gain all the benefits that the scheme has to offer.”

These co-audits with Environment Agency specialists advising, will focus on the full range of operational and supporting activities, and ensure that all haulage companies with over 250 employees do the following:

  • Assess energy use across their full spread of buildings, transport media and industrial activity
  • Examine energy-intensive pressure points and identify savings opportunities that provide financial benefit
  • Nominate an ESOS person to conduct future audits, or oversee and approve them independently
  • Report to the Environment Agency as scheme administrator per statutory intervals

Ecovaro has energy management software that turns metrics into high-level information that busy people understand. Give us a call if you are puzzling how best to present your data. We believe two heads can achieve so much more together.

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How Bouygues manages an Empire-Sized Footprint

Bouygues is into telecoms / media, and building and road construction. It also knows it has to watch its energy footprint closely. Owning 47% of energy giant Alstom keeps it constantly in the media spotlight. Shall we find out more about its facility management policies?

The journal Premises and Facilities Management interviewed MD Martin Bouygues on his personal opinions concerning managing energy consumption in facilities. He began by commenting that this was hardly a subject for the C-Suite in years gone by. Low-level clerks simply paid the bills following which the actual amounts were lost in the general expenses account. That of course has changed.

Early pressure came from soaring energy bills, which were pursued by a whole host of electricity-saving gadgets. However, it was only after the carbon crisis caught business by surprise that the link was forged to aerial pollution, and the social responsibilities of big business to help with the solution. The duty to have an energy strategy became an obligation eagerly policed by organisations such as Greenpeace.

Unsurprisingly, Martin Bouygues’ advice begins with keeping energy consumption and its carbon footprint as high up on the agenda as health and safety. “It needs bravery and a lot of hard work to get it there,” he says, “so perseverance is the key”. 

The company has developed proprietary software that enables it to pull data from remote sensors in more than 80 countries every fifteen minutes. A single large building can contribute 50 million data items annually making data big business in the system. Every building has an allocated energy performance contract against which results are reported monthly, as a basis for reviewing progress.

The system is intelligent and able to incorporate low-occupancy periods such as weekends and public holidays. What is measured gets managed. We all know that, but how many of us apply the principle to our energy bills. With assistance from ecoVaro, the possible becomes real.

We offer a similar service to the Bouygues model with one notable exception. You don’t buy the software and you only pay when you use it. Our systems are simply designed for busy financial managers.

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Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme

2015 ESOS Guidelines Chapter 3 to 5 – The ESOS Assessment

ESOS operates in tandem with the ISO 50001 (Energy Management) system that encourages continual improvement in the efficient use of energy. Any UK enterprise qualifying for ESOS that has current ISO 50001 certification on the compliance date by an approved body (and that covers the entire UK corporate group) may present this as evidence of having completed its ESOS assessment. It does however still require board-level certification, following which it must notify the Environment Agency accordingly.

The Alternate ESOS Route

In the absence of an ISO 50001 energy management certificate addressing comprehensive energy use, a qualifying UK enterprise must:

  1. Measure Total Energy Consumption in either kWh or energy spend in pounds sterling, and across the entire operation including buildings, industrial processes and transport.
  2. Identify Areas of Significant Energy Consumption that account for at least 90% of the total. The balance falls into a de minimis group that is officially too trivial to merit consideration.
  1. Consider Available Routes to Compliance. These could include ISO 500001 part-certification, display energy certificates, green deal assessments, ESOS compliant energy audits, self-audits and independent assessments
  1. Do an Internal Review to make sure that you have covered every area of significant consumption. This is an important strategic step to avoid the possibility of failing to comply completely.
  1. Appoint an Approved Lead Assessor who may be internal or external to your enterprise, but must have ESOS approval. This person confirms you have met all ESOS requirements (unless you have no de minimis exceptions).
  1. Obtain Internal Certification by one of more board-level directors. They must certify they are satisfied with the veracity of the reports. They must also confirm that the enterprise is compliant with the scheme.
  1. Notify the Environment Agency of Compliance within the deadline using the online notification system as soon as the enterprise believes is fully compliant.
  1. Assemble your ESOS Evidential Pack and back it up in a safe place. Remember, it is your responsibility to provide proof of the above. Unearthing evidence a year later it not something to look forward to.

The ESOS assessment process is largely self-regulatory, although there are checks and balances in place including lead assessor and board-level certifications. As you work through what may seem to be a nuisance remember the primary objectives. These are saving money and reducing carbon emissions. Contact ecoVaro if we can assist in any way.

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The Connection between Big Data and MDM

Master Data is information that is critical to your business. This could include contracts, proprietary information, intellectual capital and a whole lot more besides. Because this often reposes in a variety of different places, you need a master data management / MDM policy to control it. That way, you can link it all together in a single, secure, backed up file.

This Sounds Like Big Data

Not necessarily: big data refers to extremely large data sets that are best stored and analysed on a cloud using big technology, in order to uncover trends, patterns and associations often relating to human behaviour. Of course, if you run a niche restaurant your critical master data might be limited to a few recipes and the books you do not care to show your accountant.

The distinction is largely a question of size: think of your master data as the subset of big data that you already have your mind around. According to John Case of IBM this is probably already in a structured format and available to share. He goes on to present a cogent case for using this as a peg point around which to systematise the rest. This is because the average organisation already has master data recording customers’ and prospects’ behaviour.

Do I Still Need My Master Data?

Yes you do, because real people created it with the benefit of human insight. Retain it as a separate set. Then compare it with the results of big data processing for even richer insights. Two heads are better that one and that goes for data processing too.

Trends in CRM Big Data

Adding data via location-aware devices like smartphones and tablets is adding a new dimension to customer information. We now know where they were when they made the enquiry or punched in the information. Use this geo-location data to hone the way you interact with customers and service their accounts. Do not phone a customer who makes decisions at work when they are at home.

Does My Master Data Belong on a Cloud?

There are a number of ‘ifs’ to consider. How comfortable are you with your service provider. What would happen if someone hacked their server? There are many advantages to cloud technology. Denizon knows of solutions you can rely on, and makes sure its clients have contingency plans to protect them at all times.

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Migrating from CRM to Big Data

Big data moved to centre stage from being just another fad, and is being punted as the latest cure-all for information woes. It may well be, although like all transitions there are pitfalls. Denizon decided to highlight the major ones in the hope of fostering better understanding of what is involved.

Accurate data and interpretation of it have become increasingly critical. Ideas Laboratory reports that 84% of managers regard understanding their clients and predicting market trends essential, with accelerating demand for data savvy people the inevitable result. However Inc 5000 thinks many of them may have little idea of where to start. We should apply the lessons learned from when we implemented CRM because the dynamics are similar.

Be More Results Oriented

Denizon believes the key is focusing on the results we expect from Big Data first. Only then is it appropriate to apply our minds to the technology. By working the other way round we may end up with less than optimum solutions. We should understand the differences between options before committing to a choice, because it is expensive to switch software platforms in midstream. data lakes, hadoop, nosql, and graph databases all have their places, provided the solution you buy is scalable.

Clean Up Data First

The golden rule is not to automate anything before you understand it. Know the origin of your data, and if this is not reliable clean it up before you automate it. Big Data projects fail when executives become so enthused by results that they forget to ask themselves, ‘Does this make sense in terms of what I expected?’

Beware First Impressions

Big Data is just that. Many bits of information aggregated into averages and summaries. It does not make recommendations. It only prompts questions and what-if’s. Overlooking the need for the analytics that must follow can have you blindly relying on algorithms while setting your business sense aside.

Hire the Best Brains

Big Data’s competitive advantage depends on what human minds make with the processed information it spits out. This means tracing and affording creative talent able to make the shift from reactive analytics to proactive interaction with the data, and the customer decisions behind it.

If this provides a déjà vu moment then you are not alone. Every iteration of the software revolution has seen vendors selling while the fish were running, and buyers clamouring for the opportunity. Decide what you want out first, use clean data, beware first impressions and get your analytics right. Then you are on the way to migrating successfully from CRM to Big Data.

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Directions Hadoop is Moving In

Hadoop is a data system so big it is like a virtual jumbo where your PC is a flea. One of the developers named it after his kid’s toy elephant so there is no complicated acronym to stumble over. The system is actually conceptually simple. It has loads of storage capacity and an unusual way of processing data. It does not wait for big files to report in to its software. Instead, it takes the processing system to the data.

The next question is what to do with Hadoop. Perhaps the question would be better expressed as, what can we do with a wonderful opportunity that we could not do before. Certainly, Hadoop is not for storing videos when your laptop starts complaining. The interfaces are clumsy and Hadoop belongs in the realm of large organisations that have the money. Here are two examples to illustrate the point.

Hadoop in Healthcare

In the U.S., healthcare generates more than 150 gigabytes of data annually. Within this data there are important clues that online training provider DeZyre believes could lead to these solutions:

  • Personalised cancer treatments that relate to how individual genomes cause the disease to mutate uniquely
  • Intelligent online analysis of life signs (blood pressure, heart beat, breathing) in remote children’s hospitals treating multiple victims of catastrophes
  • Mining of patient information from health records, financial status and payroll data to understand how these variables impact on patient health
  • Understanding trends in healthcare claims to empower hospitals and health insurers to increase their competitive advantages.
  • New ways to prevent health insurance fraud by correlating it with claims histories, attorney costs and call centre notes.

Hadoop in Retail

The retail industry also generates a vast amount of data, due to consumer volumes and multiple touch points in the delivery funnel. Skillspeed business trainers report the following emerging trends:

  • Tracing individual consumers along the marketing trail to determine individual patterns for different demographics and understand consumers better.
  • Obtaining access to aggregated consumer feedback regarding advertising campaigns, product launches, competitor tactics and so on.
  • Staying with individual consumers as they move through retail outlets and personalising their experience by delivering contextual messages.
  • Understanding the routes that virtual shoppers follow, and adding handy popups with useful hints and tips to encourage them on.
  • Detecting trends in consumer preferences in order to forecast next season sales and stock up or down accordingly.

Where to From Here?

Big data mining is akin to deep space research in that we are exploring fresh frontiers and discovering new worlds of information. The future is as broad as our imagination. 

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Telemetry and the Survival of the Human Species

Without moisture, plants die. Without fodder, the animal food chain collapses. This is why climate change is the greatest threat humankind faces. Crop management needs timely information regarding ambient conditions, and also in the soil itself. In dry areas, online knowledge of trends in rainfall, sunlight, wind speed, leaf moisture, air temperature, relative humidity and solar radiation are indicators of soil stress that can be deadly for plants, and everything that relies on them.

As climate change bites, the need to find solutions accelerates. Drones swoop across to monitor ambient conditions, while probes sunk into plants and the earth in which they grow transmit information to big data repositories for feedback to administrators. In Australia, a remarkable cattle farmer is applying the same approach to his herds.

Nuffield scholar Rob Cook has always been on the edgy side of things. He lost his mobility in a helicopter crash in 2008 patrolling farmland but that has not deterred him. If anything, it has freed his mind to explore the potential that telemetry offers farmers in Australia. He shared this potential with the young beef producers in Roma Australia recently, and here is a summary what he said.

Being wheelchair bound he had to shift from herding with cattle dogs to a more scientific approach. He bought a farm 230 miles / 370 kilometres inland from Brisbane in a warm, temperate climate with significant rainfall even in the driest months. He uses observant software that reports on critical issues like water levels indicating animal consumption, and supplementary water flows from a central irrigation channel.

He also monitors fodder sources for dryer months, and moisture levels in food stocks. Rob is committed to making every blade of grass count. ‘We even have the ability to take a photo of the cattle when they are taking a drink of water,’ he explains, and that provides valuable information regarding tick and fly infestation and overall condition.

None of this would be possible for Rob Cook without telemetry, which is the process of collecting data at remote points and transmitting it to receiving equipment for analysis. Independent farmers do not have equipment to fund these analytic resources on their own, and use big data resources in a cloud to obtain reports. ecoVaro is on top of current trends. Please speak to us when you need independent advice.

 

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