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Can Remote Device Monitoring benefit Field Service organizations

We all at some point of time would have come across "Remote device monitoring" or Machine to Machine Communication as an advanced way to interact with remotely located devices or equipment. Organizations have leveraged this breakthrough technology in various ways to pro-actively monitor the functioning of the devices and to take remedial actions before a major fault occurs. Remote Device Monitoring has seen wide spread usage in industries as diverse as Security management to monitor and control surveillance equipment and alarms, Transportation fleet management, provisioning of utilities such as oil, water or electricity, Production management in Manufacturing.

However, the application of RDM in healthcare was what left me thinking of how close this concept is reaching us i.e. the customers. 

Doctors and hospitals are using this technology to track critical health parameters of their patients such as heart rates, blood pressure and weight. The base technologies for setting up the telephonic transmission of this information to the web interfaces of your family doctor or hospital are available from many vendors. This aids in real-time transmission of data over phone line to web-based system.

This process of receiving data can be scheduled for a remote follow-up or for frequency based checks. This is becoming revolutionary in monitoring pace maker devices and to alert the patient if the device is not functioning properly.

Now coming to my area of Interest i.e. customer service. Today Field Service management apps which are integrated with your CRM application are bringing in Remote Device Monitoring [1] to increase customer delight. 

Scenario:
You have a Product installed at one of your company locations, installed by a vendor X. You are entitled to Warranty for the first one year and subsequent Service Maintenance Contracts. This covers your quarterly Preventive Maintenance check-ups and Emergency Maintenance Services by the vendor. However, imagine a scenario where an un-called for fault occurs and you are not prepared for the downtime. You immediately raise a Work Order with your vendor by calling up on the call center or by using the customer portal and the Field Engineer comes and rectifies the issue based on a pre-defined Service Level agreement.

Alternative:
The Service Provider use Remote device monitoring, setup a Machine to Machine network around your equipment and use a modem to facilitate this communication to their secure servers

There are various operational parameters of your device that the vendor can measure and capture (Taking some broad examples):
- Appropriate Level of consumables such as coolants, solvents, ink etc.
- Inventory levels
- Desired outcome based on electric wave transmissions etc.

I just took some broad un-related examples to drive home a point that the facility to capture data is tremendous. 

Once this is done, any deviation from these defined operational parameters will trigger a timely communication to the Service Providers data base. The CRM system installed at the vendors' location will automatically create a Work Order for an engineer to visit your site and resolve these contingencies, even before the actual problem occurs. Subsequently, remote monitoring can be scheduled, which may replace a manual visit for Preventive Maintenance check-ups.

Benefits:
- Immediate notification of faults and malfunctions before problems escalate
- Automatic recording of consumables
- New or improved service level / service models
- Increased uptime of the equipment
- Reduced labor costs by avoiding multiple visits to the customer location reducing time and material expenses for the engineer
- Can monitor how the customer is using your product for future recommended action

References:
[1] http://www.servicemax.com/about-us/press-releases/ServiceMax-Spring12-release.html

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