The Impact of IoT in the Field Service Industry

Safety and efficiency are important for those who work in the field service industry. Many companies are investing in the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve both; for example, IoT devices enable real-time asset tracking, environment monitoring, and remote service updates. Below are important ways IoT developments are positively impacting field service industry.

Smart equipment: increased service visibility and data insights

At minimum, IoT allows companies to leverage devices with embedded sensors and software to communicate and synchronize data across an organization. Here is one example: a simple IoT device can be built to have temperature and gas sensors to detect weather conditions and carbon dioxide levels. It can be programmed to periodically send that data via its embedded network components to a data center, where information can be accessed by authorized personnel. This device is used for staff to monitor conditions in the field. Prior to IoT, the above task would require manual data collection and communication, which wasn’t always convenient for workers.

Because IoT enables automatic data collection, it also allows companies to create more innovative products. Per Microsoft, field service workers can greatly assist a company’s research department; they deal with realistic scenario of service requirements, and IoT enables them to efficiently consolidate that information for actionable insights.

Microsoft Azure IoT Suite is an example of a market solution that allows technicians to automatically collect data on failures, fixes, complications, and performance. Sandvik, a Microsoft client, uses the solution with sensor-based devices to collect temperature, vibration, and load on machining products, which is used to automatically inform their customers when it’s time to order new tools. The results are more efficient workflow and faster service response time.

Cloud-based solutions: increased compute capacity and data access

IoT is changing how companies deploy their software solutions as well. Many field service companies are migrating enterprise solutions to the cloud because IoT requires high-performance data management platforms beyond conventional on-premise software.

Cloud migration itself has a positive impact for businesses. Cloud solutions are more robust than conventional service management software and can be integrated with other enterprise solutions, including IoT devices. Another benefit is that user interfaces can be accessed remotely. This allows field workers to relay real-time updates remotely, which are immediately visible for other company employees.

Cloud-based software can also lower overhead costs for field service industries. The enterprise applications run on a monthly subscription, which is typically cheaper than on-premise software costs and licensing; also, cloud applications receive automatic updates so a company’s internal IT department can spend more time creating other solutions.

IoT technology increasing workplace safety

An important impact of IoT on field service workers is it improves workplace safety. Field service technicians might need to access difficult situations for troubleshooting. Technologies like wearables can help workers be more connected and aware of their environment.

IBM, a cloud service provider, has specifically designed its IBM Employee Wellness and Safety Solution to help field service industries more efficiently address safety issues. In one instance, IBM worked with a steel producer for construction companies to address heat stress. They embedded sensors into helmets and wristband devices, which are programmed to automatically relay on-site workers’ vital information to their managers. The devices can detect hazardous conditions and alert the worker and other personnel; they also sense skin temperature, heart rate, and other health indicators so employers know immediately when intervention is required.

Other IoT devices have been implemented to prevent workers’ exposure to extreme temperatures, radiation, and toxic gases. Such solutions are playing important roles to improve worker wellness. Aside from IBM, Intel and Oracle are also leading IoT development to enhance worker safety.

The positive impact of IoT for workers

The Internet of Things brings more connectivity to the field service workplace by utilizing sensors and software to automate data collection and enable alerts. It helps companies deliver services safely and efficiently. As leading cloud service providers like IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle continue to develop innovative IoT solutions, one can expect further benefits of technological advancements for field service industry.

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