The COVID-19 crisis is proving to be a critical time for field service organizations. Also, Lion needs to deal with all field service and commissioning challenges in the last year. We ensure support and production continuity for our customers, partners and other stakeholders by innovative technologies such as remote visual support. This blog will explore the three primary ways remote support is being used in field service by Lion.
Field service challenges due to COVID-19
Ensuring business continuity and the safety of our employees and customers is our top priority delivering essential services across industries such as cement, offshore & marine. These are essential for the continuity of our customer’s operations and processes; COVID-19 represents a unique challenge.
With so many people currently at home – whether on a voluntary or mandatory basis – customers are experiencing more issues than usual and need far more support. Lion provides them with audio and video support, but more importantly, we can assist some of our customers by dialling into the control systems. Our Lion engineers can help them on the spot or guide them to the right solution by having access to their operational control system—support from a safe distance but quite effective in solving problems together.
Maintaining high standards
At the same time, the service level commitments towards our customers remain the same. Repair and service demands are even higher due to the lack of skilled engineers within the marine, offshore and cement industries. This increases the need for engineers dispatches. Maintaining service is crucial. Therefore Lion can travel towards our customers, under the current rules and regulations of the Netherlands and the country of requested service.
On the other hand, if long-distance support is feasible. All parties involved should consider this first, mainly because travel times are longer due to testing and quarantine of the field service engineer before and after arrival. This also generates more cost per service visit. Therefore the importance of planning services and maintenance is during the covid-19 crisis essential.
COVID-19 brings a new reality to field service
Because of COVID-19, field service organizations are discovering a whole new reality, as does Lion. Many embrace the home model’s work as they seek to reduce site visits to minimize human-to-human contact. That’s especially true in high-density, high-risk areas like New York City, London, Rotterdam, Dhaka or Shanghai. It’s a paradigm shift in field service delivery and a profound psychological change.
Lion is also working with limited resources. Some engineers are sick or in isolation, while others face severe travel restrictions. Therefore we had to update many of our procedures.
This new situation requires fast implementation of new technologies – by employees who wouldn’t necessarily embrace new tools under normal circumstances. Technologies that would ordinarily take several months to be adopted are now being implemented within days. The lessons we learned and the tools we implement now radically change in comparison with a year ago. Highly efficient control systems are implemented at our customers bulk handling systems to support them from a distance. We can assist our customer in real life via our screen to solve the potential issue. As a last resort, our field service engineer will travel towards the customer for direct field support.
Do you need any assistance, feel free to contact us? We are happy to assist you with the possibilities.
Visual support: the key to overcoming the challenge?
The same video technology that enables teleconferencing, e-learning and telemedicine is now enabling Lion and our customers to overcome the challenges of COVID-19 for field service delivery.
The concept of Remote Visual Support couldn’t be more straightforward. In a nutshell, it’s about overcoming the visual gap in standard service delivery, putting everyone on the same page – or the same screen.
The engineer or agent sends the customer a link – via any channel – to begin a live video streaming session from their mobile phone or tablet camera. The expert takes a good look at the issue to identify the root cause. Next, they provide AR annotations to show the customer exactly what they need to do. Finally, the expert visually confirms that the issue has been resolved. That’s a vital step. It reassures the customer, while the expert can be confident there won’t be another call about the same problem anytime soon.
Here are three different ways field service organizations have implemented visual assistance to ensure business continuity during the COVID-19 crisis.
Remote support is essentially the same process that allows Lion Engineers to assist customers under normal circumstances. The customer reaches out with an issue. Our engineer will send a link to begin a live video stream and requires access to the PLC or HMI onboard. He identifies the problem and guides the customer step by step through the resolution process.
This keeps dispatches to a minimum by enabling a work from a home model for field service departments, ensuring engineers and customer safety. It allows all stakeholders to continue providing support in high-risk areas and to customers in quarantine. It also maintains and enhances customer engagement, elevating customer experience even during a crisis. At times, we like to show our support even when the times are difficult, as we are aiming for long-lasting relationships.
Onsite engineer support
In some cases, onsite support is an unavoidable event. That’s why Lion incorporated social distancing into our field service processes, maintaining a gap of at least 1,5 meter / 6 feet between the engineer and the customer throughout the visit.
With onsite support, we added a preliminary visual inspection step. This is an online meeting to discuss the situation before the dispatch. It guarantees that when a visit is required, the engineer arrives fully prepared – they know what the issue is, what parts and tools they need and whether there are any special requirements, like access issues, to consider.
Reducing the need for follow-up visits
When providing field services, we need to be aware of follow-up visits, said to account for around one (1) in ten (10) cases, are unacceptable to most customers in the current situation since they effectively double the risk of COVID-19 exposure for both the engineer and the customer. Research indicates that 63% of consumers expect no more than one engineer visit. Onsite support means the engineer can reach out to otherexperts back at HQ or to another more experienced colleague and receive guidance right there on their smartphone or tablet screen.
Onsite support also means offering advice and assistance to outsourced teams and junior engineers, reducing the need for follow-up dispatches because visual tools enable involved stakeholders in carrying out quality assurance in real-time.
Business continuity for field service organizations through COVID-19 and beyond
According to a new LinkedIn survey, 44% of senior leaders are somewhat or very likely to make remote work policies permanent. With many engineers currently being introduced to working remotely using Visual Assistance, the effect of COVID-19 on field service delivery could prove to be seismic.
Are you in need of assistance for your bulk handling project in the field? Please feel free to contact us here.
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