Field Services

Field services: in-service support excellence whilst keeping costs under control

How should teams be organized on the field? Which organization, processes, and information systems should be used to plan out activities? How to effectively link supervising of the installed equipment with managing maintenance operations? From how performance should be managed from the analysis phase to implementing recommendations, Argon can help you to turn your field services into a key performance driver.

Context and challenges

In the context of providing in-service support for installed equipment, whether for the business or for customers, the organization and control of field service activities play a major role in fulfilling the terms of the service contract (operational availability of equipment, recovery time, etc.) and in controlling costs (payroll and subcontracting, spare parts, customer penalties, etc).

The main levers used to achieve service excellence and to control costs are:

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  • The organizational structure of the field service teams
  • The teams’ level of technical specialization by supported customer technology and by type of maintenance (corrective or preventive), with corresponding impacts on the load factor of the staff and maintenance productivity
  • Team zoning: the size of the zones determines compliance with contractual deadlines for the refurbishment of equipment, load factor of the teams, and sensitivity to periods on-call at night and weekends
  • The degree of centralization when planning and scheduling teams (global vision vs proximity of the teams)
  • Processes and IT systems for the scheduling, control, and tracking of operations
    • The S&OP, preserving the geographical balance between maintenance capacity and changes in workload (new contracts, trends and seasonality of technical incidents, changes in maintenance policy), coordinating a tradeoff between compliance and service levels 
    • The scheduling of maintenance operations (prioritization of orders by customer impact, optimization of technician itineraries, etc.)

These processes rely on CMMS-type tools, enhanced by planning/scheduling modules of the relevant field service activity, technologies for the real-time localization, tracking of and communication with technicians (PDA, GPS, etc.), and by organization, processes, and IT systems:

  • Capacity to monitor the equipment network, detect incidents, understand their impact on the service delivered, center analyses around the root causes, and take remote action on the relevant equipment, contributes towards more efficient service and a drastic reduction in the number of maintenance operations in the field. To achieve this, choosing the right supervision tool that matches the capacity of the equipment to be remotely operated is crucial
  • The structuring and scaling of teams helps to optimize the balance between those skills applied and the responsiveness of operations launched in the field
  • End-to-end incident management process (from the time of occurrence to its resolution) facilitates control of ongoing operations in line with customer service offerings
  • Performance techniques and management:
    • Finding the right balance between preventive, predictive, corrective, and curative maintenance, and revising the maintenance policies and task lists accordingly
    • Standardizing and making operation times more reliable, usually by applying Lean Six Sigma approaches
    • Managing performance: service levels, effectiveness, and efficiency of the resources used

 

How can Argon Consulting help you?

  • Diagnostic: cost-service performance, maturity of processes and IT systems support  (supervision, planning, scheduling and tracking, maintenance policy, and performance management), suitability of the organization of field teams and support functions
  • Identification of areas for improvement (organization, processes, IT systems, and performance management) and quantification of service-related and economic challenges
  • Team mobilization around a roadmap for change
  • Support in the deployment of the transformation plan

Case Studies

Improvement of management practices of maintenance interventions and spare parts stock management