Category

Service Technology

Elevator Out of Service

An Elevator Pitch: IoT Improves Elevator Service

By | Internet of Things, Service, Service Lifecycle Management (SLM), Service Technology | 3 Comments

The Risk of Market Commoditization

For companies that operate in a commodity market, competing on price alone is usually a stressful and futile business strategy. When the only protection a company has against competition is lower price, an aggressive new entrant offering an even lower price for the same product or service can disrupt the business overnight, luring customers away from an established business that had nurtured customer loyalty for decades. Indeed, low-cost products and services often mean subpar quality and poor customer service, and by the time the newly-recruited customer realizes it, the damage has already been done and is difficult to reverse. As the old adage goes, it costs much more to regain a lost customer than to keep an existing one.

McKinley Elevator Corporation is a family-owned business that specializes in elevators, accessibility lifts and car lifts for homes, public facilities, and businesses. Even with reputation for top-notch customer service, the company is constantly at risk of losing market share to lower-cost competitors, and under pressure from elevator manufacturers seeking to drive down cost in a highly commoditized and price-competitive market. Read More

Airstream by Ralph Goings (1970)

Get Real: How to Build a Useful Augmented Reality Application

By | AR/VR, Internet of Things, Service, Service Lifecycle Management (SLM), Service Technology | 2 Comments

Gauging Value in AR Service Applications

You know I have been very vocal in criticizing augmented reality (AR) applications that, in my opinion, demonstrated too little business value.  You have heard (or read) me referring these as righty-tighty lefty-loosey systems.

From time to time, clients and attendees of my public lectures challenge me for guidelines to help them gauge the potential business value of AR applications. If a simple air filter replacement procedure isn’t useful, then what is? Read More

Righty-Tighty, Lefty-Loosey

Augmented Reality and the Righty-Tighty, Lefty-Loosey Demo

By | Service, Service Technology | One Comment

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) technology seems like a natural fit for personnel performing intricate assembly, maintenance and repair jobs. AR technology is used to annotate physical objects by superimposing physical objects, in real-time, with virtual information from documents, databases and sensors to assist technicians in performing complex tasks. For example, the AR annotation layer could highlight a part to be replaced, identify special tools needed for the task, prescribe detailed work instructions, and display warnings about potentially hazardous materials and activities.

Unlike virtual reality, which replaces the physical world, AR adds information that augments and enhances the real-world experience.

Work on using augmented reality in industrial settings dates back to the 1990s. The renewed interest in applying AR in service and maintenance tasks stems from two converging trends. Read More

Augmented Relaity

Virtual Reality is Awaiting its iPhone Moment

By | Service, Service Lifecycle Management (SLM), Service Technology | No Comments

I have been involved in developing, evaluating and selecting tools and methods for field service and failure diagnostics in complex equipment for many years. Among the many technologies, virtual reality (VR), the technology that was heralded and then flopped in the 90s, seems to stage a comeback, thanks to significant improvement in hardware and visualization technologies, and eye-catching products like Google Glass (discontinued earlier this year), Oculus Rift (acquired by Apple in 2014) and Microsoft’s Hololens. A client sent me links to articles on virtual reality that appeared in a recent issue of The Economist and asked for an opinion.

The longer article, titled Grand Illusions, offers some historical perspective and discusses numerous opportunities for virtual reality applications, mostly related to gaming and gaming-like areas. The article cautions readers to “curb your enthusiasm”, citing multiple technology, human physiology and social barriers. Read More

Section perpendiculaire du moulin des Verdiers (Jean-Jacque Lequeu, 1778)

Who Needs Service Manuals?

By | Service, Service Lifecycle Management (SLM), Service Technology | 3 Comments

A Bit of Perspective

I want to start this blog post with two personal stories that exemplify the difficulty to provide service personnel highly relevant and effective service information.

Some years ago I was advising a leading industrial equipment manufacturer on various topics related to product service lifecycle management and service operations. We were nearing the launch date of a new machine, but as the project had experienced multiple setbacks and some of the milestone dates had slipped, the service documentation wasn’t going to be ready in time. The product release rules dictated that service information be available at launch time, but delaying the launch for that reason would have been prohibitive.

Management response to the problem was simply to omit certain sections of the service manuals. Traditionally, manuals included a hefty Theory of Operation section, rich with illustrations and photos. To make up for the lost time, the Theory of Operation section was eliminated, and the number of graphic illustrations in other sections was reduced. You can probably guess the end of this story: there was not a single complaint from service technicians about the missing information, nor was there a noticeable degradation in field service performance. Apparently, service technicians did not find this information very useful. Read More