Efficiency Tools for Aftersales: How to Implement Them Successfully

Equipment and raw materials are not the only things that machinery and plant manufacturers in Germany are lacking. The results of recent VDMA surveys show: The shortages of skilled workers are getting worse and worse. The ifo Institute speaks of an all-time high in Germany. How do companies manage to reduce the workload of the existing team and introduce employees to the new technologies required for this purpose?

According to the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), around 80% of mechanical and plant engineering companies were complaining about "serious or noticeable bottlenecks" in personnel in June 2022. According to the ifo Business Survey, the shortage of skilled workers is even having a negative impact on production, which was hampered by a lack of manpower at 43 % of companies.

The big challenges are yet to come

Prospects are bleak: Almost 40% of companies expect the situation to become even worse in the coming months. The situation poses major challenges for both employees and decision-makers in industrial companies. Those who do not act now will probably soon reach efficiency limits.

Companies in the aftersales sector are also struggling with the consequences of the shortage of skilled workers. On the one hand, the focus of the business model of machine and plant manufacturers is changing from product to service. On the other hand, customers want ever more comprehensive service - and preferably around the clock.

Many machinery manufacturers have already switched to selling the performance of their products rather than the products themselves. This shifts the workload from the plant operators to the manufacturers. But if there is a lack of skilled workers for service, maintenance and repair, the resources in the service departments are quickly used up.

Here's what decision-makers can do to support their employees

A lack of staff means more work for the present workforce. On the one hand, this affects employee motivation, and on the other, a high workload also has an impact on productivity. In the end, this causes machine and plant manufacturers' sales to fall, while costs rise.

Management and executives must therefore ensure that the workload is eased in everyday work, streamline as many processes as possible, and give employees more time for their actual tasks.

Thanks to digitization, the tools needed to do this are already available today - and for companies of all sectors and sizes. These include solutions that simplify spare parts management and provide service information digitally.

When it comes to choosing the right tools, the following questions are important:

  • How many resources are needed to implement the new tool? The IT department is also often understaffed.
  • What do employees in specific departments need to get their work done even if there are not enough team members? A list of minimum requirements can help here.
  • What needs to be considered in terms of data security? The software used must meet the highest security standards, especially in critical areas.
  • Does the tool serve more than one purpose? Ideally, management will choose software that networks different areas of the company and serves as a basis for new business models.

Furthermore, an important point is the acceptance of the employees who are to work with the tool. The more intuitive the software, the easier it is to get started and the greater the acceptance of new programs and apps among employees.

The requirements of future users also play an important role in determining which efficiency tool is the best and most likely to be accepted.

Service staff need knowledge on demand

Networked knowledge, intuitive software and use of modern technologies are best suited to support aftersales staff in their day-to-day work. The following four examples show how service teams can gain more time for their main tasks by using the right tools with the right features.

Easy access to information
Service technicians are always on the road and working at their customers' plants. On-site, they can do their jobs best when information about machines, spare parts and components is seamlessly available to them.

Remote workers need technologies such as augmented reality to support their customers in the best possible way, regardless of their location. Here, too, access to various service information plays a major role.

Networked information

Today, information for service is available in various places in the company and is becoming increasingly relevant for more and more departments and also for customers. To ensure that service technicians and support staff do not waste time searching for data or reconciling conflicting information, data sources such as ERP systems, web stores and online spare parts catalogs must be connected.

Intuitive search functions

Service software only makes work easier if the information sought can be found quickly and easily. Ideally, users don't have to read pages and pages of instructions to search a digital spare parts catalog, for example.

Well thought-out user interfaces and self-explanatory functions take service technicians or customer support to the machine or spare parts information they are looking for in the fastest way possible.

Intelligent assistance functions

In the consumer sector, artificial intelligence, algorithms and chatbots are already actively helping online shoppers find their desired product more quickly and rewarding the seller with a click on the purchase button.

Modern assistance technologies can also give service staff a helping hand. Tools that learn from their users and can use them to improve search suggestions for spare parts, for example, are a real help.

Quanos InfoTwin: Easy to get started, rich in functionality

For companies that not only want to alleviate the consequences of the shortage of skilled workers but are also right in the middle of digital transformation, the introduction of multifunctional software is paying off. One example of this is Quanos InfoTwin.

Quanos InfoTwin is a modular and standardized cloud solution for mechanical engineering that links information from technical documentation, spare parts management and other sources to create a digital twin for aftersales and service.

From this virtual image of their service information, manufacturers and operators of machines and plants can gain valuable insights into the condition of their assets. It also provides them with a reliable and centralized data basis for optimizing and expanding their service.

When implementing the out-of-the-box solution, no internal resources are wasted. Instead, it is immediately ready for use and can subsequently be expanded as required and used as the basis for new business models and smart services.

Quanos InfoTwin is also easy to use and offers various efficiency benefits that contribute to greater productivity:

  • New employees can be trained more quickly.
  • Data is available anywhere and at any time, yet is protected from unauthorized access.
  • Synchronization with other systems in the company ensures that the database is always up-to-date.
  • Easy-to-understand functions and clear user interfaces make work easier.
  • Search functions and smart assistants save service staff time.

With Quanos InfoTwin, you create a modern and future-proof working environment for your aftersales & service team. The easy start with the cloud solution ensures that your employees benefit from more efficiency from day 1 and can once again focus on the customers' needs and further expand the service offering.

With Quanos InfoTwin, decision-makers finally get a digitalization foundation that, on the one hand, complies with IT policy and does not use up IT resources and, on the other hand, contributes to increasing sales.

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