Manufacturers are leaving a wealth of information on the table that is there for the taking through Field Service.
Field technicians and engineers are your boots on the ground. They have their hands on your equipment every day and are seeing what parts are going in your products, if your competitors’ parts are being used, how often parts are being replaced or serviced, product and part condition, etc. Without that information, you miss out on insights that lead to predictive service calls, improved first time fixes, insights on quality, parts replacements, competition, and so much more.
But where and how would you collect and house all this data? With an ‘Asset Digital Twin’ you could have a mirror image of your equipment in the system that is used by your Field Service organization.
What is an Asset Digital Twin? We need to know much more about the Asset than simply its name and owner to extract useful, actionable data. The Asset Digital Twin is a virtual data view of the physical equipment. This includes: the hierarchal relationships of components, the key identifiers of those components such as Part, Model and Serial numbers, any IDs your customers use like their internal Asset tag number, meter and other readings, and finally, the installation and decommission history of the Asset and its key components.
Why do you need it? Capturing digital twin data and keeping it current gives your Sales, Service, and Executive teams a direct view inside your equipment, unlocking valuable insights. Some common downstream uses of this critical data include:
- When a customer calls to report an equipment problem, this data will allow your company representative to quickly identify the equipment that needs servicing. If not correctly identified, you may dispatch technicians that lack the correct skills for the work. This will also help improve First Time Fix Rates.
- Predict and schedule for future maintenance needs based on the historical data. For example, awareness of the Mean Time to Failure will prompt you to service the equipment before it fails.
- The Remaining Useful Life of a device or component will provide insight as to when it should be replaced to prevent a catastrophic failure. Your customer will appreciate you preventing an outage and your Sales team will thank you for the insight on equipment and major components that are near end of life.
- The Product Quality team needs visibility to problem reports and failure types by model to initiate Product Improvements and to differentiate between product failures with the latest updates versus older models.
- An enterprise view of equipment and component versions in the field can be used to initiate Retrofits and Upgrades before failures occur.
- Last but far from least, the Asset Digital Twin will capture data to trigger Preventative and Reactive Maintenance activities. Stay tuned for a detailed post on building your maintenance engine to react to this data!
How can you create your Asset Digital Twin? There are three primary ways to get started:
If your assets are equipped with sensors (IoT), key identifying information can be transmitted through a connection to your Field Service system, and live data can feed directly into the digital twin, giving you a real-time look inside your customer’s equipment.
But we understand that not every device is connected. In this case, the process ideally starts with the equipment sale, using the key components from the bill of materials (BOM) to populate the ‘as built’ version of the data. We can do this quickly and efficiently with system integration. We all know this will change over time, and we need to keep it current. We have found that Engineers and Technicians are typically open to keeping the data fresh if the mobile experience to do so provides a quick and logical flow. While this data can be easily captured by typing, QR and Bar Codes can make mobile entry especially painless.
Don’t worry if you don’t have access to the ‘as built’ view of the equipment – you’re not alone and it’s not too late! When your Technicians and Engineers are performing maintenance on the equipment, they can (and should) start capturing your Asset Digital Twins now.