Smart machines and IoT are on the tip of everyone’s tongues these days. At the CES convention last week, Samsung unveiled a smart refrigerator that completely eliminates the need to go to the grocery store; the fridge monitors its contents with internal cameras and syncs with an online grocery delivery service so items can be easily reordered and delivered to the house. Self-driving cars will be on the roads in the not-too-distant future. And in field service, drones are being used in the farming and agricultural industry to survey fields.

Smart Machines Can’t Completely Substitute Workers

In a recent report by McKinsey Analysis that visualized the percentage likelihood of jobs being taken over by automation and smart machines, construction jobs had the highest potential for automation. In the mid-range percentage, aerospace engineering and operation techs were at a 62% risk of automation. The risk of being overtaken by smart machines got even lower for electrical engineering and mechanical engineering techs; their percentage chance stood at 23%. And the field service techs with the lowest risk of being replaced by smart machines were environmental engineering techs and industrial engineering techs, which are at a 14% and 13% of likelihood of being taken over by automation, respectively. It’s apparent that smart machines will reshape the field service workplace, but they will not replace the human workers in it. For example, IoT sensors and predictive maintenance are already being used by field service workers, not instead of them.

Smart Machines Are More Like Electronic Co-Workers

Teamwork and collaboration are very useful for field service workers, especially when it comes to their colleagues in the field and the back office. That’s why smart machines should be viewed more as technological co-workers rather than an imminent threat to the workforce. Smart machines enhance what field service techs do, by helping them do their jobs faster and more efficiently, such as using IoT sensors that can notify techs of a failing machine in advance. At online retailer Amazon’s warehouses, people and robots work together, alongside each other, with the robots bringing items to the people who then prepare the package of items to be shipped to the recipient. When smart machines and field service techs work together in a similar way, think of how much more service calls can be completed. Smart machines can take care of repetitive and simple tasks or send notifications, while field service workers can put their expertise to use by handling more complex issues or nuanced tasks like customer service.

Smart Machines Improve Efficiency and Accuracy

Smart machines improve the accuracy and efficiency of field service work by pinpointing problem parts and highlighting potential equipment malfunctions in data. Like mobile workforce management helps dispatch workers in a more intelligent way, smart machines can prevent downtime by notifying techs of problems before they arise. Automated stock and inventory sensors can let field service workers know if replacement parts are available so they can have the parts they need on-hand to achieve a first-time fix. These may seem like small things, but having smart machines in place lets workers have the ability to be more productive, provide better service, and maybe fit in an extra service call or two. All of this is good for improving your field service business. Even though some companies may envision a day when robots are dispatched in lieu of human techs, for now smart technology and people can have a beneficial relationship without one putting the other out of work.


Topics: Field Service

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