How service relationship management helps boost your bottom line
by Dick Hyatt
September 27, 2017

The proliferation of the internet of things (IoT) and the promise of big data have made it easier for business owners to detect when something is amiss with their equipment. However, many still have blind spots when it comes to using these technologies to drive uptime, reduce administrative costs and enhance service processes. In fact, estimates suggest that most companies are only using 1 percent of their available data.

Over the past few years, many construction business owners have become increasingly reliant upon connected sensors and the data they provide, but most are using only a small portion of the information available.

In truth, they could also be using this treasure trove of data to increase equipment uptime, improve service, lower total cost of ownership and lengthen the useful life of their assets. Sensor data is part of addressing these pain points—but only if it is provided with the proper context.

Extracting High-Value Data

Data that identifies equipment health problems creates unwanted inbox bloat and delivers limited value, but data that is actionable can be highly beneficial to a contractor’s business. Actionable, contextual and easily sharable data propagates more intelligent decision-making, better collaboration and faster response times, thus reducing asset downtime.

Unfortunately, traditional information sharing methods that have long been used by service and repair teams are often difficult to integrate and can actually inhibit communication across service teams.

The time-consuming emails, phone calls and paper shuffling required to identify problems and share repair status updates creates a chaotic and fragmented repair process, resulting in more time out of service and higher costs.

Ultimately, asset availability is heavily dependent upon the right data being readily available and easily accessible by everyone in the service value chain, including contractors, repair specialists and OEMs.

Simple Alerts Aren’t Enough

Instead of providing the usual simple alerts, service relationship management (SRM) offers contractors in-context access to key information, including connected asset data. This detailed, actionable data allows contractors and repair specialists to make better decisions, automate maintenance scheduling and prioritize breakdowns or other service and maintenance issues in a more focused and efficient manner.

For example, let’s say an excavator malfunctions at a jobsite. A sensor may send an alert to the contractor letting them know that the machine’s engine has failed. Without SRM, the contractor may not get any additional insight, other than the notification that this problem has occurred.

With SRM, the service provider and contractor both automatically receive information on the type and severity of the event, the location of the asset, current usage and performance information and, in many cases, a suggested triage and repair plan. This information is combined with the asset’s service history, maintenance and warranty status, build details and other relevant information, including parts and wiring diagrams.

The OEM or outside service provider can also be automatically included in the event, without the need to make phone calls or send emails.

Dynamically linking all parties in the service repair event is the key to more rapid return to service. The mobile technician is better prepared, the time it takes to order parts is accelerated and repair time is improved. In fact, making telematics actionable can shorten the repair cycle by up to 50 percent.

Prioritizing Service with Business Intelligence

While SRM can help teams react more quickly during service events, it can also be effective in helping them avoid those events altogether. Business intelligence tools allow contractors to automate preventative maintenance schedules and provide alerts when a piece of equipment is due for a checkup. Well-maintained equipment is significantly less likely to have unscheduled and potentially costly breakdowns.

Through an SRM platform’s dashboard, contractors can easily keep track of the maintenance and repair statuses of all of their assets based on specific attributes and thresholds.

This includes dashboards that show when equipment is coming due or overdue for maintenance; equipment that is out of service and requires repairs more than $5,000; and equipment that has been out of service more than 2 days. Automated alerts and quick access to the necessary information allows contractors to prioritize service events and make rental or replacement decisions quickly.

Facilitating Streamlined Communication

SRM goes far beyond providing valuable data; it can also greatly improve communication and collaboration among the various members of the service value chain. Rather than emphasizing one-to-one communications as found in typical customer relationship management (CRM) tools, SRM facilitates multiparty, multichannel communication based on connected asset information and data access based on roles.

Thus, the current patchwork of phone and email communications and applications is replaced by a cloud-based SRM information system. Asset service management status is instantly updated and easily accessed by all team members from any device.

Information can even be accessed and updated via mobile applications—a handy benefit for crews working to repair assets on jobsites. Mobile repair specialists can quickly access an asset’s repair and maintenance history through an SRM platform and keep contractors apprised of repair estimates, equipment status and more.

SRM greatly reduces the communications hurdles that prolong equipment downtime. Research from a cloud-based SRM software provider shows that 90 percent of downtime is unrelated to actual repairs; it’s taken up by unproductive communications methods involving phone calls, emails and fruitless hunting and pecking for information. With SRM that process—and the cost associated with it—goes away in favor of a streamlined system where real-time information sharing cuts down on unproductive wait times for your team.

Fueled By Actionable Data

Over the past few years, the construction industry has invested heavily in IoT. Virtually every major equipment manufacturer has made connected sensors and the data they provide a cornerstone of their offerings.

But for contractors, that data is only truly valuable if it can be made actionable in order to deliver sustainable value. Contractors must be able to use the information captured to improve asset uptime, make better decisions, enhance the productivity of their operations, lower total cost of ownership of their equipment, and increase revenue. Completing jobs on time and on budget requires equipment to be available and operating correctly.

Using SRM uniquely enables contractors to fully leverage IoT data, while ensuring equipment uptime that helps drive their businesses forward.