Rick Smith, vice president of global injection services for Milacron, chats with us about the huge benefits to be gained from properly equipping team members in the field. Take a look…
Smart Industry: Why do we still face the obstacle of getting the right information at the right time?
Rick: When you look at the people we work with, it’s a mixed bag. In my opinion, there are two groups of people—a group that hasn’t necessarily kept up with the pace of technology, and then a younger generation that is eager to adopt these disruptive trends. One problem we face is getting the older generation to use the technology…like using a tablet to fill out an automated-service report.
We need to give technology information to the older generation who have the depth of experience. Meanwhile, the younger generation might have the tech know-how, but they aren’t the ones with product knowledge and decades of experience in the field. And when it comes to fixes, you must have a balance between those two groups.
When you are facing a tricky maintenance, the older groups want to be involved in the decision, to flex their individual and long-earned knowledge. The younger side want the answers delivered. It’s a cultural shift—but when we come out on the other side of “technology resentment” and mobile enablement, we’re glad we got to the other side.
Also, skilled trade roles are changing, along with the extensive training programs that came with roles in industries like automotive. When those service jobs are outsourced to third parties, we don’t have the luxury of backfilling 30 years of training.
Smart Industry: What most excites you about the immediate future of mobile worker enablement?
Rick: Technology is essential and we are just starting to see the benefit of smart, connected products. From a field-service perspective, connected products enable mobile workers to deliver more effectively. This minimizes machine downtime and increases first time fix rate, as well as a plethora of other benefits.
We’re already leveraging facetime capacities in the ServiceMax platform. The technician in the field can connect with the office in an interactive way. Senior staff with that depth of experience might be in the office and the field tech can help them see what they see and leverage added experience.
Smart Industry: What is the greatest information need of the mobile worker?
Rick: From the field-service perspective, it’s all about interacting with the customer. For that, we need good IoT technology that tells us where the problem is or at least a good understanding of where the problem could be. The possibilities of IoT are endless—right now we have an interactive tech manual in which you can click on a circuit if you don’t understand what it is; you can see how they work or click a different way to see other data. That helps you troubleshoot. In our business, it’s all about how quickly you can get the customer up and keep warranty costs down. We need the live-time information coming from the machine. If we could have technical FOM’s (functional operating manuals) that could walk a technician through a series of checks to get to a machine failure that information would be very powerful in generating less machine downtime. It’s not about throwing parts at a problem, it’s about diagnosing it. The IoT allows us to increase our meantime to repairs in the most economic way to address our customers’ needs.