Building a Global Experience Through Connected Service
The Internet of Things (IoT) is bringing a new level of connectivity that is evolving the forklift service call and changing how companies approach equipment maintenance. Today’s connected service technicians, armed with new technology and increased connectivity, are helping to make service calls smarter and more proactive.
As more data is gathered on forklift performance and operation, supply chain managers can expect service techs to arrive on-site already understanding the issue and prepared with the right parts to make the repair. Service providers are working closely with customers to create a connected service experience that increases visibility into the process, reduces downtime, sets the stage for predictive maintenance and changes how organizations structure maintenance plans.
For global companies, there is an opportunity to build on this connected service platform to create consistency across global operations. This can be a challenging endeavor, given that it is not uncommon for each region or location to have its own unique maintenance plan, service metrics, parts delivery mechanisms and pricing structures.
Here are five steps you can take to help ensure the benefits of service connectivity extend across your global organization.
- Make the connection and collect the data. Connectivity is the infrastructure that supports your global service experience. It’s more than just service and maintenance personnel using laptops or tablets. It’s about connecting your assets/forklifts through a forklift fleet and operator management or telematics system that gathers data on the status, performance and usage of your forklifts. It is also about creating a channel and process through which this vital forklift information can be gathered, shared and analyzed within the maintenance program and across the organization in a globally standardized way.
- Know your assets. When managed, shared and utilized properly, the compiled data—which can include event codes, operator performance and forklift health and utilization information—can provide a deeper understanding of your global fleet and maintenance issues. What are the conditions and ages of the forklifts within your fleet? How often and in what ways are these forklifts being used? What are the most common maintenance issues? Are there regional differences? Global similarities?
- Create consistency. The key thing to remember here is creating consistency…when possible. Given that different regions around the globe have their own set of unique challenges, issues and cultural norms, it would be difficult to have one overarching maintenance plan that meets the needs of each region. However, there are areas where consistency can exist (e.g., oil changes, trouble-shooting guidelines, planned maintenance checklists) while also allowing flexibility for localization. The gathered data about your fleet and maintenance issues will help you create consistency where possible and identify localization needs.
- Identify goals. A good global service and maintenance plan should address the problems you are trying to solve or the issues you wish to address. It should be guided by a mix of global and regional goals. For instance, a globalized goal could be to reduce unplanned forklift downtime or the mean time to repair (MTTR) across all locations; while a localized goal could be to decrease safety problems or improve call/fix ratios in a region where this might be an issue. Gathered data about your fleet and operations can help uncover problem areas and issues, while assisting with the identification of goals.
- Pick the right partner. This step, among all the others, could have the biggest impact on the success of your efforts. It is vital you have a partner that can help you create a global service experience and achieve your goals. This means a partner with global capabilities (e.g., standardized processes, strong resource network, regional market and regulations knowledge) that can align with your corporate initiatives and localized needs. This could be the company that manufactures your forklifts and/or manages your maintenance and service program. Regardless, they need to have the infrastructure and local support to help you create and maintain a consistent maintenance program while also working with you to analyze gathered data so actionable information can be used to strengthen and expand your efforts.
As greater connectivity evolves forklift service, it is providing an opportunity for organizations to create and manage a more standardized global service experience. By following a few important steps now, companies will be better positioned to leverage connectivity and Big Data to provide consistent levels of service for their entire worldwide fleet, regardless of location.