The Internet of things is coming, and medical device manufacturers that follow these steps can leverage its benefits to improve their service programs.
For today’s medical device manufacturers, quality product support is a major competitive differentiator. Access to diagnostic equipment data is key to creating proactive service programs that help manufacturers pull ahead.
But having the data is only the start. You need to make sense of the incoming information if you want it to work for you. The Internet of things (IoT) is where it all comes together. Machines communicate through sensors and trigger alerts based on the data they’re receiving.
Manufacturing businesses can use IoT intelligence to monitor equipment performance, so they know exactly when something needs repaired and drastically redesign their service operations to increase profits and improve customer satisfaction.
But getting everything set up and running smoothly doesn’t happen overnight. Here are four things you can do to prepare your medical equipment service department for the future of IoT:
Focus on Strengthening Preventive Maintenance Programs
IoT allows you to take your preventive maintenance operations from reactive, set on regularly scheduled intervals, to proactive, set on an as-needed basis.
Manufacturers that construct equipment with IoT sensors know when repairs are needed before problems escalate into more expensive issues. For example, sensors in a faulty or outdated part activate a work order as soon as something’s not functioning as it should. As the work order is generated, parts are ordered, and a preliminary service call is scheduled. When the parts arrive, a service truck is dispatched to the site to perform the preventive maintenance. Each of these steps is done automatically in seconds, with no human interaction required.
Strong, proactive preventive maintenance programs informed by IoT prevent equipment downtime because the service tech can get onsite before problems manifest to the customer.
Shift to an Outcome-Based Services Model
One way to prepare for the future of IoT is to shift your service model to one based on equipment performance outcomes. In other words, change the model from break-fix to customer-centric service.
Lee Smith, division general manager for service lifecycle management at PTC explained on how IoT is leading this shift in an Industry Week article:
These smart, connected products are redefining the way world-class manufacturers are thinking about their business model, especially as it relates to servicing their products to avoid the failure and improve the performance . . . What happens when we look at service through a new filter, as something that adds value throughout the customer relationship instead of resolving problems?”
Using IoT data and alerts to schedule proactive service visits, medical device manufacturers can provide a holistic service experience to the customer rather than just engaging in a single transaction through the initial equipment sale.
Embrace a Software Best-of-Breed, Collaborative Framework
While the model of investing in a broad enterprise management suite to manage all business needs used to hold some water next to a best-of-breed, integrated software approach, the emergence of the cloud has virtually eliminated past advantages of the suite solution.
Best-of-breed software providers are experts in their area and can push updates through the cloud quicker than trying to customize a cumbersome suite solution. Integrating various systems to meet each of your business need—service management, ERP, dealer management, etc.—is much easier (and smarter) with today’s flexible software options.
The pace of change has significantly accelerated, driven first by mobile and next by IoT, and will likely require more frequent, ongoing IT improvements and integrations. You don’t want to be in a position where your entire service business is running on an outdated system that’s difficult to update or replace.
Appoint an Internal Project Leader to Review Incoming IoT Machine Data
IoT sensors provide an endless flow of data from device to manufacturer. With this influx of data, companies receive insights into how equipment can be modified or upgraded as well as when it needs repair or maintenance work.
But organizing and interpreting the massive amounts of data IoT equipment sensors reveal is a huge job. Companies need to make sure someone’s assigned to the task so they don’t get buried in data.
According to an Industrial Distribution article, the IoT will fuel the use of data to make strategic decisions, particularly when it comes to manufacturers’ ability to decide how to make equipment better and more efficient for the customer:
2015 will see that data put to use in a smarter way that makes things operate more efficiently. Even smaller companies in the industry will invest more in 2015 to improve their software operations.”
Conclusion: Prepare for the Influx of Machine Data with a Focus on Service
Rather than struggling to meet high sales quotas just to stay afloat, medical device manufacturers are discovering the benefits of loyal customers, gained through effective service and preventive maintenance programs.
As connected technologies continue to provide more data than manufacturers know what to do with, companies need the right tools to organize that data and take advantage of the opportunity in service. Customer demands are rising and if companies are not able to keep their equipment running smoothly, they’ll find someone who can. Commit to providing the best service possible by preparing your business for the future of IoT with these steps.
|Learn more about the industrial Internet of things at MD&M East June 9–11, 2015, in New York City.|
[image courtesy of EMPTYGLASS/FREEDIGITALPHOTOS.NET]