For ServiceMax and PTC, IoT Opens New Business Opportunity

Through a partnership with PTC, ServiceMax is giving technicians a head start on addressing service calls by allowing them to remotely tap into data regarding a machine's health or status.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Sep 26, 2016

When Athani Krishna co-founded ServiceMax nine years ago to provide equipment manufacturers with a cloud-based software platform to manage fleets of field technicians and work orders, he says most maintenance operations were carried out in a manner similar to driving a vehicle with the windshield blacked out, relying only on the rear-view mirror to determine why a given machine or system had failed. But now, as manufacturers begin to integrate sensors into equipment to monitor mechanical intricacies and enable more proactive, preventative and even predictive maintenance, things are beginning to change not just for equipment manufacturers but also for companies that they rely on to execute maintenance services in an effective and efficient manner.

"The most exciting shift in our business model is that if you can instrument your fleet of installed products and really understand how to keep them up and running, you can sell reliability itself instead of selling the machines," Krishna says. "But if that happens, the manufacturers will still need to track the health of the machines and will still need field workforces. Plus, if manufacturers move into outcome-based contracts, the revenue will be coming from management of the contracts. Being able to [help them manage field workforces]—we see that as part of our roadmap."

A technician uses the CFS app. (Photo courtesy ServiceMax)
Last week, ServiceMax reported that a partnership that it forged early this year with manufacturing software provider PTC has resulted in a number of successful joint deployments. Through the partnership, companies that use ServiceMax's Connected Field Service (CFS) platform to manage their field technician teams, as well as PTC's ThingWorx IoT platform to manage networks of sensors used to monitor equipment components and performance, can now pull that sensor data into CFS. By doing so, field technicians can access that sensor data through CFS, via iPads or laptops, as soon as a work order is issued.

Armed with this new visibility, technicians are, in some cases, able to rely only on phone support to walk an end user through the steps required to fix a problem they otherwise would have needed to address through a site visit. In addition, by analyzing sensor data, some joint customers are beginning to deploy preventative maintenance programs, in which technicians call or visit customers as soon as sensor data shows a given machine is likely to suffer a failure in the near future, thereby helping the customer to avoid down time.

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