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The new challenges facing field service companies

The new challenges facing field service companies

Monday 25 february 2019

Maintenance service providers work on the building stock to install, maintain and repair technical equipment such as heating, air conditioning, ventilation, plumbing, low and high voltage electrical networks, as well as elevators, building entrances, alarm systems, fire detection systems, etc.

This ecosystem of building maintenance is divided into two parts : residential buildings (private or collective) and tertiary buildings. Each has different maintenance issues, but both are characterized by the combination of preventive interventions (such as annual maintenance of a domestic boiler or monthly maintenance of a central heating system on a 300-unit condominium) and curative interventions (e. g. a breakdown of the air conditioning system or a water leak).

The sector is therefore characterized by a certain distance between the technical teams in the field and the administrative teams who stay in the company's headquarters (the back office). Hence facilitating communication between mobile and stationary personnel in maintenance service companies is a major challenge that will enable them to improve their productivity.

Today, customer expectations are higher than ever. Maintenance service providers must not only grant a high quality service, but also know how to evolve and adapt to a complex environment in which there is an increasing number of stakeholders in an intervention. Thus, over time, companies in the sector have seen the emergence of new challenges in managing their interventions.

Incorporation of new technologies

The first challenge is about the use of new technologies. Modern tools now exist to facilitate comunication between teams, nevertheless, service delivery companies have some technological backlog to catch up on. The main transformations in the sector showed up about ten years ago. It includes the large-scale wireless network, 3G network expansion, and cloud computing, which allows permanent comunication even on the move. At the sector's scale, this is a fairly recent change. Many service providers did not immediately realize that these new technologies could significantly improve their day-to-day work. For example, the distribution of interventions is still often done through the distribution of paper intervention vouchers. However, companies can now integrate new technologies in their activities at a rather affordable cost, sometimes minimal, and the ROI is is often very significant.

As a result, new practices using modern technologies have emerged. When properly mastered, they can provide a real competitive advantage to service providers. For example, cloud computing is increasingly being used, until becoming the standard for some service providers. They have understood that having the latest technology allows improved performance, without having to worry about updates and delays. It also allows secure storage of information.

Data management

Among the changes in the sector, it is noteworthy that the number of stakeholders involved in an intervention is increasing: owners, tenants, trustees, managers, trade union councils, guards or technicians... All these players produce and consume data that must be centralized and shared. The challenge is to obtain instant live sharing in order to avoid time-consuming re-entries. Hence the digitisation and abandonment of paper have become essential to facilitate both internal and external communication. It is essential to turn to intervention management softwares that allows both planning and monitoring of interventions, but also invoicing and quotes.

For some of the maintenance service companies, the main challenge is to find a technological tool to manage maintenance contracts. The recurrence of interventions requires the creation, updating and recording of a large amount of information (maintenance and service ranges, equipment fleet, maintenance plan, frequency of visits, time scheduled for preventive tasks, etc.) that must be stored and used in order to automatically produce and plan maintenance and check-ups.

Team management

Another challenge facing maintenance companies is aging teams: 50% of maintenance employees are over 45 years old. To recruit and attract new technicians, offering a connected and modern work environment can be a differentiating argument. It is also necessary to emphasize that teams in the field are now quite comfortable with the use of mobile solutions and are for the most part equipped with smartphones. Technicians, therefore, expect to find tools such as professional mobile applications in their jobs. Applications have also evolved to be more intuitive and user-friendly so they don't require any specific training.

Maintenance providers can also turn to the use of augmented reality. It is a modern and powerful solution to develop knowledge sharing between different generations of workers. Therefore, the integration of augmented reality can notably allow coaching and remote monitoring of young technicians, allowing them to be autonomous much more quickly than before.

The integration of these new solutions, called CMMS (Computer Assisted Maintenance Management) also leads to managerial change. The latter is in addition to changes in the market, regulations and customer requests. It is, therefore, necessary to integrate teams enthusiastically in the implementation of new tools. Appointing an interlocutor for the implementation of a new tool can reassure teams and make it easier to respond to their fears. It is necessary that the technicians and the back office understand the added value of this solution. The willingness to evolve and adapt to change will distinguish companies that are successfully transitioning from digital to those that have a negative view of technological change.

Adopting a powerful and modern tool for the management and monitoring of interventions is essential to meet the expectations of customers and new employees.

That's why Yuman's vision is to provide technical teams with a new way to work, collaborate and organize by creating an easy-to-use maintenance and intervention management application that managers and technicians love using.

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