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How Field Service Can Help Manufacturing Service Managers

If you’re a service manager you have a tough job, responsible for watching over all of the different moving parts in a manufacturing company’s service department. In previous blog posts I’ve discussed how a field service application can help call takers, field technicians and inventory coordinators in the manufacturing industry.  I’ll wrap up this series by discussing five ways a field service application can help you, as a service manager, better manage your service department.

Identifying the Right Mix of Technicians

An important initial setup when utilizing field service software is to enter technician skills, certificates and disciplines. The primary purpose of entering this data is to help the field service application pick the right technician for the job. This same data can also help you look at your technician pool at a higher level to determine the overall makeup of the technician force.

For example, are there too many junior technicians? Or maybe not enough technicians that have the required  certification to work on a piece of equipment?  With an overview of this data, you can easily evaluate a potential new hire – e.g., confirming if the candidate has the skills that the service department is in need of right now.  Using the skills and disciplines data stored in a field service application gives you the information you need to fully understand the team makeup in your department — and determine if changes are needed.

Analyzing Service Time

Another initial setup in a field service application is setting up different services and the amount of time allowed for that service.  For example, a maintenance may only be allotted two hours of time, whereas a service break fix may be allotted 2.5 hours. A field service application allows you as the field service manager to analyze the planned service duration versus the actual performed time taken on a service order.

Various other factors may affect the actual performed time, such as if the technician performs additional services for the customer, the actual performed time may be greater. But overall, this data help you view technician performance by service type.

This same data can be used to determine whether a junior technician or a more senior technician should perform the assigned work.  The senior technician may be able to perform the same work at a faster pace, but a higher cost.  The junior technician can perform the same work at a slower pace, but at a lower cost.  These factors can be weighed to make decisions on which technicians should perform certain work to balance customer satisfaction needs versus service order profitability.

Connecting the Correct Technicians with the Correct Parts

A cardinal rule of field service is ensuring the correct person shows up with the correct part.  The ability to send the right technician to do the job, the first time, is one of the main reasons why many manufacturing businesses implement a field service application.  Using the data stored in the field service application enables a service manager to review how many service orders required revisits and why.

The reasons for revisits could be many. For example, the technician had the wrong part and had to go back; or a technician had to go back for the right part and was delayed; or simply that the technician did not have the right skills, and the more skilled technician needed to come and take his place.  In a field service application you’ll also be able to see if the customer wasn’t available, or if there were other circumstances as to why the job could not be performed.

This data stored in a field service application is invaluable in customer service situations where you need to explain why a fix took longer than expected. The data that the field service application provides allows you to easily determine why revisits are being made, allowing the business to adjust processes that will help minimize them moving forward.

Using Historical Data to Determine Future Service

A field service application keeps all pertinent data for a particular service in one place – data like which piece of equipment was worked on, what parts were replaced and why, and how many hours were spent working on the equipment.  Using this data, the field service manager can spot trends in equipment failure.

For instance: over the past three months a two-year-old forklift has had an overheating issue that was caused by a bad thermostat.  As a service manager you can review the circumstances surrounding the issue and determine the best course of action as far as prevention; or if needed, create a proactive maintenance schedule to replace the part.

Using the field service application, you can then review which customers have this particular year and model of equipment, and proactively notify the customers of service needed on the equipment. Notifying a customer before they have an issue creates a customer service opportunity to schedule a service, or notify a customer of a preventative step so that down time is avoided.

Tracking Time Effectively

In field service, showing up on time is paramount! A field service application keeps track of when a service order was scheduled, and when the technician started work.  This time data can be looked at historically in different ways, including by customer or by technician, and can also be looked at in real time.

With a field service solution that provides resource scheduling insight, a service manager can look at the current resource schedule board in the field service application to see which appointments are on time or which appointments are late.  The resource schedule board is color coded, making it very easy to tell which appointments are late, and enabling adjustments to be made in real time.  If Technician A is late on a job, but Technician B has finished early, then Technician B can be slotted in to keep the appointment.  Reviewing the schedule board periodically throughout the day helps prevent the dreaded late appointment.

Conclusion

With the data you need and want right at your fingertips, field service software gives you, as a field service manager, the tool you need to effectively and seamlessly analyze and grow your department or business.

If you are a field service manager, take a few minutes to think about what data is important to you and will help you efficiently and profitably run your business.  Then consider your current field service application. Does it provide the data you need to run your business? If the answer is no, or if you’re not sure how to get the data you need, contact Hitachi Solutions – we’re happy to help.

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