The Next Generation of Using Location in Field Service
Field service optimization has come a long way towards minimizing travel time, thus leaving more “wrench time” available for performing more tasks per each field engineer’s day. While this is great news, it does indicate that it’s time for us to ask what can we do to get more tasks done within the same amount of “wrench time”. In other words: can we help service engineers complete jobs faster?
Well, we can, and we do. Field Service Mobility solutions, such as ClickMobile, speed up work in many ways, including reduction of paperwork, automation of reporting, and delivering the required knowledge and documentation – right information at the right time.
And yet, some interesting opportunities remain. One category of such opportunities has to do with the question: If we had a location technology that was far ahead of GPS in terms of signal availability? What if we could identify locations inside buildings, within “urban canyons:” (where high-rise buildings block GPS signals), and within large factories and facilities? Quite a few technologies are under development, ranging from WiFi “hot spot” triangulation, through miniaturized inertial navigation, to the next generation in satellite navigation. The European Space Agency’s Galileo project (http://www.esa.int/esaNA/galileo.html) will be Europe’s own global navigation satellite system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. It will be inter-operable with GPS and GLONASS, the two other global satellite navigation systems. As part of the Galileo initiative, ClickSoftware has received funding for a two-year research project aimed at exploring the field service applications of high-availability, high-accuracy location data.
So what could we do with this information? One example is identifying the locations, within a facility, of equipment, access panels, underground pipes etc.: The first service call may take some time to figure out these locations, but subsequent calls will benefit from guidance right to the spot where the service needs to be provided. This also applies to one team marking a location (e.g. in case of leakage) for another team to fix. We have already identified quite a few other cases for using such location data for making field service more efficient, but undoubtedly there will be many more benefits we haven’t seen yet. Please take a minute to think about it:
How would you use location data during the performance of service tasks?