High-Tech Manufacturing

Service organizations need to understand issues in advance, so they know which technicians, tools, and parts need to arrive on-site in order to maximize the probability of fixing the issues on the first visit.

General Overview of Industry w/r/t Service and Challenges:

High Tech Manufactures operate across a broad spectrum ranging from low margin and highly commoditized to high margin and highly specialized products.  In either case the need to advance and bring their factories and the products they produce to new and competitive world class standards is imperative.  Not only do manufactures rely on high tech equipment to produce, but they are also creating highly sophisticated devices for the customers they serve. The challenge in manufacturing is that the opportunities to improve are endless and can be difficult to know where to focus and are regionally specific. While most manufactures seek to reducing waste, improve efficiency, and increase throughput the degree and focus on each vector varies.  This means that every manufacturer is truly unique and dialing in these improvements can prove to be a challenge. Analysis is often left to rear view mirror approaches and statical measurements using methods such as Six Sigma as an example. To add to these dimensions, manufactures have to keep the pace with changing safety and regulatory requirements. Product defects, recalls, inventory, raw materials tracking, Bill of Materials, Service and Support are all examples of areas where manufactures are working hard to balance.  As a result, it becomes difficult to keep up with the constant rate of change in order to become a Digital Factory.

Manufactures are now differentiating by offering more service options.  Customers are more vocal and sophisticated with higher expectations of quality and greater levels of support and service.  Visibility to all streams of activity for a manufacturer is the overall challenge, from production, materials and vendors to service, support and regulatory oversight.   Ultimately, High Tech Manufacturing needs to manage through the high levels of change with the ability to shift rapidly.

Modern Field Service solutions such as Service Cloud, Salesforce Field Service and ServiceMax are great for managing core Service operations such as Customer Support, Work Orders, Entitlements, and Dispatching. However, there are other Service challenges that require connected assets and AIoT solutions to address. Challenges such as knowing exactly when to service a device to avoid failures, minimizing service response and on-site service times, enabling asset Servitization, and supporting product recalls. These kinds of challenges were the catalyst for Connected Field Service. Connected Field Service enables organizations to transform the way they provide service from a costly break-fix model to a proactive and predictive service model by combining IoT diagnostics, asset management, and resource management on an integrated Service platform.

Customer Story

A high-tech asset manufacturer has partnered with Spoke AIOT to connect their field-based assets to their Service Management solution to improve asset reliability, enhance Call Center support, and to reduce service costs. The high-tech asset manufacturer started with a clear vision of what they wanted to accomplish.  Spoke AIOT partnered with them to develop a smart roadmap for adopting their Connected Field Service vision.  In this case, the high-tech asset manufacturer was already managing an install base of connected assets and an IoT-cloud for collecting machine data.  Spoke AIOT help them integrate their IoT Cloud solution to their Service Management, which was already integrated with their ERP system.  Spoke AIOT’s out-of-the-box Service tools quickly augmented their existing remote performance monitoring by delivering no-code service workflow automation.  These capabilities combined to help ensure the field-based assets were operating as necessary and could automatically coordinate the appropriate Service response if needed.  In the field, the Service Technicians were able to see real-time and historic asset data to help them quickly triage and resolve issues.  In the background, Spoke AIOT was collecting and analyzing the asset data over time; identifying performance trends, predicting when failures would occur, and creating recommendations to avoid unplanned asset downtime.  The Service Team was able to extend the value of their previous IoT investment with Spoke AIOT proving the capabilities needed to deliver the “last mile” of Connected Field Service. 

How Spoke AIoT helped this Customer

Remote Monitoring & Alerts

AIoT solutions are revolutionizing the way Service teams maintain high-tech equipment in the field.  As more that 50% of new industrial/commercial assets are manufactured will sensors and onboard connectivity, the ability to monitor each assets for real-time performance will help ensure Service team are proactive and hyper-responsive to issues.  By connecting to the high-tech manufacturer’s IoT Cloud solution, Spoke AIOT was able to augment the existing monitoring capabilities by filtering out big-data “noise” that often results in unfiltered insights and false-positive service responses. Internally, the high-tech manufacturer used Spoke AIOT to monitor aspects of their manufacturing tolerances and respond quickly to threshold variances.

Distributor Service

When product sales, support, and service is provided through distributors, AIoT solutions provide added visibility and control to field-based asset performance.  This high-tech manufacturer has a complex selling channel that includes direct sales, regional distributors, and reseller agreements.  Spoke AIOT enables this high-tech manufacturer offer Monitoring-as-a-Service (MaaS) to their partners as a premium service that helps differentiate them in the market.  And because this high-tech manufacturer receives little to no information from their distributors about the end customer, Spoke AIOT provides them with critical usage and performance data to help improve product performance and help inform future selling campaigns.

Usage-based Preventative Maintenance

Leveraging actual asset usage data available in the high-tech manufacturer’s IoT Cloud, Spoke AIOT’s native integration with their Service Management solution enabled them to offer usage-based preventative maintenance plan. One specific asset class under support is a precision scanning machine that must be recalibrated within a defined duty-cycle to ensure image resolution quality. While time-based preventative maintenance plans had been the normal approach for service, it had shortcomings as assets being used more than expected required service ahead of the time-based plan.  Similarly, assets used less than expected received unnecessary service.  Transitioning to usage-based PMs was a high-value play for this high-tech manufacturer; leveraging their real-time data to coordinate service exactly when it’s needed.

Analytics & Predictive Maintenance

As asset performance data had been collected over time in the high-tech manufacturer’s IoT Cloud, Spoke AIOT augmented the existing analytics package by incorporating Service account and entitlement information specific to the assets; improving the high-tech manufacturer’s ability to prescribe Service responses as issues are identified. Internally, the high-tech manufacturer has an equally high focus on maintaining their manufacturing equipment. With highly reliable data points created by AIoT solutions, they can track robot performance over time and use statical analysis like six sigma to improve overall equipment reliability and operations within production tolerances.

Parts Forecasting

Manufacturers are constantly working to balance inventory levels especially for high valued parts.  AIoT solutions can monitor usage and influence demand planning for appropriate reorder points of parts that are mission critical to have on hand. By predicting the volume and velocity of future maintenance events, and by evaluating the parts consumed delivering past similar services, Service teams can improve parts forecasts; reducing the risk of stockouts and the cost of inventory. Spoke AIOT’s native integration with the high-tech manufacturer’s Service Management solution closed the gap between service forecasting and parts ordering.  In this scenario, the high-tech manufacturer has been able to automate parts replenishments and reduce inventory levels without stock outs.

Improve Service Outcomes

When Service technicians are required to be on-site, having access to both real-time and historic asset operating data helps service technicians quickly and accurately diagnose and resolve issues. The high-tech manufacturer enabled their Field Service Technicians with the Spoke AIOT mobile app so they could see real-time and historic performance data as part of their triage process. With these new insights, the Service Team could quickly identify root causes; enabling them to spend less time figuring out what was wrong and improve their chances of fixing the issue right first time.  The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need to remove barriers to accessing service locations. With Spoke AIOT’s ability to remotely access and control devices from the Spoke AIOT app, the high-tech manufacturer enabled their Call Center Agents and Service Technicians to triage and deliver select services remotely.  This helped avoid unnecessary truck rolls and site/access denials risks in those cases. While reducing service response time and costs, the high-tech manufacturer also improved business continuity (service revenue) and worker safety by delivering Service remotely. Since adoption, the high-tech manufacturer has begun reporting improvements to their Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) and First Time Fix (FTF) Service metrics.  They’ve also reported a reduction in “Fault Not Found” service events based on improved analysis of big-data noise.

Improve Regulatory Reporting

Finally, the medical device manufacturer was able to improve their ability to efficiently and confidently report relevant device issues and observations to the FDA.  While issues such as patient injury were more straightforward to report, the medical device manufacturer was previously unable to report certain issues such as Repeat Repairs within the stringent FDA requirements. Spoke AIOT was able to evaluate each asset’s performance, and the entire asset family’s performance, with regards to FDA standards, detect reportable events, create summarized reports, and facilitate the Compliance review/submission process. With Spoke AIOT, the medical device manufacturer was able to ensure Compliance adherence and protect their license to operate.

Beyond Service

Data Driven Manufacturing and Strategic decision-making in real time from the source improves operational efficiency, drives higher quality, yields cost savings, creates new service offerings, and provides direct insights into customer performance are areas of gain. For example, AIoT solutions provide a proactive feedback loop into next generation product improvements. These are realistic and can be obtained through incremental enhancements that support business strategies and yet still cost effective to implement.  Strategically, this high-tech manufacturer is planning to adopt a new selling model in the coming years; whereas they will transition from selling assets to selling medical outcomes. Spoke AIOT can enable this high-tech manufacturer to Servitize their assets with high Revenue Recognition confidence.

Quick Wrap-up and Call to Action

AIoT for Manufacturer becomes the mechanism that enables world-class Service by remotely monitoring asset performance, identifying trends, predicting outcomes, and prescribing service responses. Because of the complexity associated with manufacturing operations, AIoT is well positioned to help manufactures understand the highest-value focus areas in real time with AI paving the way for proactive insights that normally can take months to surface. Talk to an Expert at Spoke AIOT to learn more about how connected assets and AIoT-enabled solutions can transform your Service team.

Benefits Summary

  • Improve Asset Uptime/Reliability
  • Reduced Service Costs
  • Reduce Service Response Time
  • Improved First Time Fix (FTF)
  • Improve Workforce Productivity & Utilization
  • Improve parts inventory forecasting
  • Enable new service revenue models
  • Improve Technician Safety
  • Improved Regulatory reporting
  • Enabled new opportunities for business value based on deep insights gained from asset data

The future is AIoT enabled Service

Artificial Intelligence can exponentially increase the value of IoT by using all the data from the asset/install base to accurately predict outcomes and promote a collective intelligence.