- Industry Trends
The job profile of service technicians is changing - and with it his perspective. While technical understanding and hands-on skills are still in demand, modern technologies such as IoT and predictive maintenance require new skills. Optimizing equipment while taking the overall process into account, collecting, managing, and evaluating data, and integrating machines into corporate IT are all topics that will be part of the service technician's daily routine in the future. Companies must respond because service is crucial for customer satisfaction.
Currently, the world of service is changing rapidly - in line with the machines that need to be serviced. Until now, machines were either independent or directly coupled in a production line. With the Internet of Things (IoT), this is changing. Machines are being networked and communicate with each other, with other areas of the company and with external partners such as the machine manufacturer. Accordingly, the focus of service and the requirements of customers are changing.
It is no longer a question of looking at an individual machine and keeping it running, but the machine is viewed in the context of the entire process. As a result, the service technician automatically slips into the role of a process optimizer. The job description in service will therefore differentiate in the future and be divided into various manifestations of the profession.
In addition, there will be more manual jobs, working on-site at the customer's plant as before, but also more and more specialists who work via remote connections, support the technician on-site, but also keep an eye on the "big picture". And this can be done ever more often remotely, so that the service technician has the prospect of being able to contribute his experience remotely after a few years in the field.
In the past, a service technician was a problem solver whose most important task was to keep the customer's machines running, to modernize them and, if necessary, to adapt them to new requirements. Optimizations primarily concerned the machine in question. In the future, this perspective will broaden - just as the machines are integrated into larger networks, the requirement profiles in service will broaden.
This means that holistic approaches are increasingly coming to the fore, which see the machine as part of a higher-level hierarchy - just as IoT machines communicate with other machines, data sources and data sinks, as well as upstream and downstream processes.
Six job profiles are presented here as examples that will be indispensable in service and support in the future:
One of the most important advantages of digitalization is the consistency of data: once information has been created, it is always passed on and can be reused in many places. Among other things, this creates transparency that makes it possible to track and document production processes in real time. This requires data from the machines, which flows into the corporate IT and must be integrated accordingly. The Service IT Manager works with the customer's IT department to establish these data flows.
The Service Business Analyst defines the content, sources, and targets of these data streams. He or she develops and implements concepts for collecting the data - which in certain cases includes defining the necessary sensors - as well as for evaluating and disseminating this data in the formats required for further processes.
Predictive maintenance, for example, is based on data from the machine. It makes sense for the machine manufacturer to define which sensors are useful at which points in the system in order to monitor the condition of the machine and sound an alarm if necessary. For example, a defective bearing can be detected by vibrations, but also by the bearing temperature. In an environment where other sources of vibration are also present, a temperature sensor is likely to make more sense, while in other application scenarios vibration measurement might be more appropriate.
Other sensors, such as those that track the progress of jobs or specific dimensions on workpieces, might be the responsibility of the Service Business Analyst. They do not record the micro level of the assembly status, but the macro level of the production processes. Which machine is running at what capacity, where are bottlenecks and open resources that could be used differently? The data is primarily used to optimize production planning and monitor the process.
Business key figures such as throughput time or utilization of production capacity are obtained, while at the same time creating the transparency that enables optimal detailed planning. For this purpose, data from production is delivered to other, upstream, and downstream processes and processed there. For this purpose, they must be aggregated, consolidated and converted into the correct formats.
This job description has the greatest overlap with the current Service Technician. He has experience in repair, rebuilding, and commissioning. On top of this comes his knowledge of the processes that are to be implemented with the help of the machine and its mechanics. He thinks along with the machine's environment, so to speak. In this way, he can incorporate higher-level information and networking in the processes for optimization.
If we take the leap away from the individual machine, we come to the area of process optimization. Here, production as a whole is considered and the mapping of the processes to the equipment. The goal is to establish stable series production that reliably spits out high-quality products with the least possible effort. The basis for this is always the data from the previous areas.
Receiving, understanding, classifying customer inquiries, assigning resources, analyzing, and documenting - this is how the tasks of the Customer Care Specialist could be summarized. Understanding is almost the most important step - is a service technician needed on site, can the problem be solved remotely, or does the customer need help to solve the problem himself?
Analysis is also important - what led to the customer inquiry, can weak points of the machine be identified based on recurring inquiries about the same assembly, is operation unclear at a certain point? In this way, the Customer Care Specialist is not only the first point of contact for the customer, but also a valuable source of information internally for optimizing processes and products.
The focus of their work is customer satisfaction, with the optimal efficient processing of customer inquiries coming in second. Although this is more of an inside job description, the employee needs real-world experience to understand the customer's problems and challenges and to know quickly what resources are needed. In that respect, this is an interesting field for seasoned service professionals who want to reduce their travel.
The Customer Experience Manager works in a deeper and less problem-oriented, but rather optimization-oriented way. What does the customer want to achieve, what does he need to achieve this goal, and how must his tools - in this case the production facilities - be designed to achieve this goal?
This is where the greatest cross-cutting knowledge is required; analysis requires a deep understanding of processes and requirements, rather than detailed technical expertise. Nevertheless, the Customer Experience Manager must know what is technically feasible and how to achieve better results.
This description of job profiles shows how the integration of machines into corporate IT is changing the perspective - just like taking a photo with a zoom lens, service must be able to understand, analyze, and optimize all aspects of manufacturing, from delivering a spare part to optimizing globally distributed manufacturing process chains. In this respect, the service employee of the future is still a problem solver – however, the problems have evolved, are to be seen in larger contexts and affect further areas in the company.
As the job profile becomes more differentiated, employees' knowledge will also focus on certain aspects. For the other areas in which the employee is less well versed, he or she needs a way to obtain information quickly and efficiently. The basis for this is service information systems and documentation that is up-to-date at all times and individually adapted to the customer and his equipment.
Quanos SIS.one, our software for digital spare parts catalogs, service information systems (SIS) and service portals provides everything you need as a manufacturer and operator of machinery and equipment to digitalize and optimize your after sales service. Quanos SIS.one enables you to consolidate all relevant service information on your machines and plants from the source systems, link them, and make them available to every user via a user-friendly interface, regardless of whether they are maintenance staff, service technicians, support staff or your customers themselves.
In this way, your service technicians have access to machine- and customer-specific, up-to-date information at all times. As a result, they need less knowledge, but are informed on site at the appropriate time about required spare and wear parts, repair, and maintenance instructions, as well as maintenance measures, adjustments, and modernizations that have already been carried out.