Less down-time and more efficient service calls are major tools in your mission to achieve high customer satisfaction scores. And one emerging concept that’s making a positive impact on field service is predictive maintenance.
How is Predictive Maintenance Different from Preventive Maintenance?
Preventive maintenance is the process of performing maintenance on equipment proactively. It's based on expected deterioration and lifespan of the equipment. In general, it’s about performing maintenance now, in an attempt to avoid a larger and more costly repair later. The problem with preventive maintenance is that it isn’t completely efficient. Since it follows a regular maintenance schedule, it might mean replacing parts that don't need to be replaced.It's an inconvenience when one technician has to put effort into an unnecessary fix. But when this happens regularly across multiple tasks, jobs, and technicians, costs begin to add up.
Predictive maintenance is slightly different. It takes the actual condition of the equipment into account when setting schedules for repairing or replacing. The condition and performance of the equipment is monitored, and when performance falls below a set threshold, a maintenance request is initiated. The advantage to this approach is that maintenance is more likely to be performed when it is actually needed.
What Are Some of the Emerging Technologies Associated With Predictive Maintenance?
While predictive maintenance is still an emerging concept for the field service industry, we can already catch a glimpse of how it can be applied, based on how other industries use the concept.
For example, airlines use sensors to better gauge the current condition of mechanical equipment on each plane, including the engine. By analyzing the current condition of the engine and comparing it against lifetime use, predictive maintenance allows for proactive repairs and replacements during daily maintenance. This can result in fewer delays and flight cancellations, which means more happy passengers.
Another example is the oil and gas industry. Software monitors the current condition of submersible pumps. If performance is documented below set thresholds, repairs can be made that not only keep the pumps online, but potentially avoid catastrophic equipment failures.
What’s the Next Horizon for Predictive Maintenance in Field Service Management?
As the Internet of Things (IoT) grows, devices and equipment will be able to communicate and relay information about current equipment statuses. In short, connected machines can tell you they are about to fail, before they do.
In the future, your field service management software will have IoT functionality integrated, and predictive maintenance will become the norm.
For example, let’s say your field tech is equipped with augmented reality (AR) glasses. These glasses can receive feedback collected from sensors within the IoT-enabled equipment she is servicing.
The technician sees readouts from her AR glasses, showing how each piece of equipment is performing, and how close each is to meeting set thresholds that would necessitate a repair or replacement.
Emerging technologies such as AR and IoT allow the technician to use predictive maintenance to minimize downtime and costly equipment failures. Technicians can also utilize feedback from sensors to alert customers to proactive maintenance that can be accomplished during the current visit. That might eliminate a future service call.
To learn more about predictive maintenance and other emerging technologies impacting field service management, check out Field Service Matters.