Software Is Turbocharging After-Sales Support for Equipment Manufacturers
Connected devices and their data are perfect for solving problems as soon as they start or settling disputes with finality, and manufacturers are taking notice.
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Technology creates the occasional unicorn — companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Tesla. The hype around these disruptive companies sometimes drowns out meaningful and even dramatic improvements made every day by traditional industrial companies. One example is how leading equipment manufacturers are leveraging new technologies like the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to better understand their customers, anticipate their needs, and to innovate faster than ever before.
You may recall an incident last year where a Tesla SUV crashed into a building and the driver claimed that the vehicle suddenly accelerated on its own. The logs, however, showed that the SUV was under manual control at the time of the crash, and that the driver had abruptly accelerated shortly before the incident. The company was quickly able to dispute the driver’s account, thanks to the telemetry it collects from each of its vehicles for analysis. This is just one example of smart, connected equipment changing the rules of the game and enabling digital transformation.
That transformation isn’t limited to consumer brands like Tesla. For operators of industrial assets, connected equipment paired with asset performance management (APM) software has helped reduce costs, improve asset availability, and mitigate risk. And now, the manufacturers of heavy equipment are undergoing the same transformation, leveraging sensors and software to create new business opportunities and commercial models.
Increase Customer Satisfaction
Real-time access to asset data enables equipment manufacturers to take a more active stance on equipment maintenance, quickly detect potential issues, and proactively address them. What better way to delight a customer than to contact them with a solution before they’re even aware there’s a problem?
Beyond maintenance, APM gives manufacturers valuable insight into the ways customers are using their equipment.
Armed with highly specific usage data, equipment manufacturers can partner with customers as advisors rather than merely vendors. This information strengthens the OEM and customer relationship and eventually makes it easier to upsell newer and better equipment.
Lower Warranty Costs and Deliver Smarter Service
When equipment breaks, it’s vital to have accurate, timely data to resolve the issue. One of the key metrics that affects warranty expenses is whether a technician is able to resolve the problem on the first visit. The challenge is that customers aren’t always able to effectively articulate the issue or what’s causing it. As a result, it becomes difficult for equipment manufacturers to dispatch a technician with the right expertise and the right parts.
APM removes that uncertainty by delivering sensor data directly from the source, ensuring the job is done properly the first time. APM can also detect problems while they’re still small and inexpensive to fix.
Accelerate the Product Design Cycle
For many equipment manufacturers, one of the toughest aspects of product development is that it often occurs in the abstract. Manufacturers design and build to the best of their understanding of real-world conditions, but while their intuition is usually well-informed, it may not reflect all the variables found in the field.
APM allows manufacturers to take the guesswork out of the equation by providing comprehensive sensor data and insights on real-world equipment usage and failure patterns. Manufacturers don’t need to wait months or years to discover issues because the information is available in real-time. This capability is particularly valuable in the prototyping phase because it can shorten the time required for testing and reduce the cost of development.
Many equipment manufacturers also use data from APM to design-in the right amount of product reliability. By not over-engineering products, the manufacturer can save cost and develop competitive advantage while the customer gets similar benefits; lower cost, lower weight, better fuel efficiency, etc.
Individually, these efficiencies help mitigate costs and shore up the bottom line, but in aggregate, they enable entirely new business models. Much like Uber, Lyft, ZipCar, Getaround, and others are using data and connectivity to transform car ownership into a pay-as-you-go service, industrial companies like are leveraging data from APM to reimagine what it means to own a jet engine. Think what a similar change could mean for your business model.
Welcome to the fourth industrial revolution.
Published at DZone with permission of David Ovadia. See the original article here.
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