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Five Ways a Field Service Solution Can Make Technicians More Efficient

Improving technician efficiency is one of the primary drivers for manufacturing organizations looking to implement a field service solution. As a solution architect, I hear this time and time again, from countless customers. And it makes perfect sense.

Typically, due to inefficiencies, technicians are held up dealing with customer issues or driving back and forth from the office to the client. This means that many days are spent managing current clients, rather than servicing new work orders. If a team of 10 field technicians who work 250 days a year could guarantee one new service call per day, that would equate to 2500 service orders worked per year

A field service solution can dramatically improve efficiencies for field technicians in several ways; Let’s take a look at five of them.

 

Dispatch the Right Technician, with the Right Parts

One way to dramatically increase service call efficiency is for the call taker to ensure that the right technician is dispatched with the correct parts required for the job. Unfortunately, this scenario is not as simple as it sounds. Inefficiencies run rampant as technicians travel back and forth to customers’ homes before arriving with the correct part. A field service solution can help reduce these unnecessary trips by letting the technician know exactly what parts will be needed prior to leaving for the customer’s location.

The field service application looks at the list of service orders to be performed that day and based on the work to be done gives the technician a list of parts that will be needed on the service orders.  The technician can then verify that they have the correct parts on their truck before leaving the shop.

Imagine a scenario where a customer calls in with an overheating issue on a piece of equipment that you manufacture.  That problem for that particular piece of equipment is common, and a thermostat replacement is required.  Before the technician leaves the shop for the service call, a field service solution will show the technician that a thermostat and gasket is the likely solution.  The technician can see if they have the part in their stock and, if not, make sure that they get one prior to leaving for the customer.

 

Route Technicians More Efficiently

Combined, the cost of labor and the cost of fuel are the largest costs associated with a service order.  That means the most efficient and cost-effective strategy for manufacturers would be to ensure field service technicians are taking the quickest and shortest route to their destinations.  A field service solution can quickly route technicians along the most efficient path so that they can reduce their travel time and get to their destinations faster.

For instance, field service solutions can interface with mapping software, giving the technician turn by turn directions to a customer’s location and helping them avoid heavy traffic routes.

Reduce Troubleshooting Time with Service History

A field service solution with a field service partner gives field technicians the ability to quickly view location service history.  The technician will be able to see the equipment present at the location, as well as any work that has previously been done on that equipment, previous service tickets, technician’s notes and meter readings for the equipment.

This information can be invaluable for a field service technician because it can reduce the amount of time that it takes to determine a problem.  For example, say that a technician was sent out to work on a battery that was not charging on a piece of equipment.  The technician could see that the battery was just replaced two months ago by another technician because of the same issue.  This information could lead the technician to look at the battery cables or the alternator to see if there is an additional problem affecting the battery.

 

Greater Visibility into Pricing

A field service solution can also help technicians present efficient and accurate pricing. One of the last customers that I worked with had a process for pricing on the service order where the technician would determine what the problem was and would call the office to find out the price. The office would have to pull the agreement with the customer out of a filing cabinet and look at the agreement to determine the price.

As you can imagine, this led to discrepancies between what the customer was charged from visit to visit. Sometimes the technician charged more than he should have, and sometimes he charged less, neither of which was positive for the company.

A field service solution can help technicians by allowing them to view actual prices in real time on a tablet or mobile phone. Whether it’s a time and materials rate, or a flat fee for a service determined by customer agreements and pricing policies, the customer will consistently receive the correct price for my customer, this made their field service technicians a lot more efficient because they no longer had to call the office to get a price for a service. This also had the added benefit to the manufacturing business as they no longer were undercharging for a service.

 

Identify Needed Parts Quickly

While the goal should be to have the right part when the field service technician shows up, this is not always possible. Invariably, there will be times when the diagnosis leads to a problem part being identified that the technician does not have in his van.  When this happens, depending on how common the part is, the technician may or may not know the part number.

In many situations, the technician will call the parts department and try to find a part number using the old part number – cross-referencing that old number with part numbers that are stocked (which can be both a time- and labor-intensive process).  A field service solution allows the field technician to access schematics, part breakdowns, technical bulletins, and any other necessary documents.  This in turn allows the technician to be a self-service parts department, enabling him or her to easily locate the part number by referencing the equipment schematic.

 

Conclusion

While a field service solution can make your service operations immediately more efficient in these five different ways, these are not the only ways your business can benefit (or the only returns on investment you will see). I would encourage you to take a look at your field technician processes using your current field service solution, and determine if any of the above efficiencies can be implemented in your manufacturing business.

If you would like to evaluate a new solution, we would be happy to help. New solutions offer end-to-end functionality that supports each function in a modern field service organization (employees, processes, and customers) within in a single solution.

Hitachi Solutions’ own Extended Field Service solution offers the full capabilities of Dynamics 365 for Field Service with an extended tool set built specifically for the unique needs of field service organizations. Extended Field Service enables organizations to increase customer satisfaction with intelligent scheduling, native mobile support, and remote asset monitoring. In addition, the solution allows you to collect data through the Internet of Things (IoT). Extended Field Service includes:

  • Warranty management
  • Time card management
  • Preventative maintenance
  • Depot repair
  • ERP integration
  • Advanced analytics

If you have questions on what field service solution would work best for your organization, please contact Hitachi Solutions today.

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