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  • Service Portals 

Mechanical and Plant Engineering:
Service Digitization

Digitizing a company’s service operation will help to increase customer satisfaction, lower costs, and provide further sales opportunities; a service portal is a necessary requisite.

For a long time, most companies in the mechanical and plant engineering sector did not consider their service operation worth a great deal of attention. While they offered their customers repair and maintenance services, they did not have a strategy for developing those services. This is beginning to change, and for good reason. In many cases, the provision of technical services now offers greater sales and profit potential than the sale of machines and equipment – mainly because companies are currently investing less in new machinery. A recent study by the consulting firm Bain & Company confirms this trend.

Service is a Factor of Success

Good servicing is also a crucial success factor for excellent customer relations. Mechanical and plant engineering companies that succeed in providing an outstanding service in this area not only set themselves apart from their competitors, but also increase customer loyalty. And they obtain various opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling. However, responding to customers’ needs is becoming ever more challenging as digitization is on the increase. Expectations with respect to servicing have risen substantially. Most customers assume that they will be able to communicate with the manufacturers on all types of analog and digital channels, and do so at any time.

Digitized Service Processes

Mechanical and plant engineering companies can respond by comprehensively digitizing their service processes. Not only will they thereby ensure efficient communication with the customers and a speedier flow of information, the new technologies also allow new digital services to be set up and marketed. But only a minority of companies have so far taken the opportunity of realizing the potential involved, as indicated by the “Service Monitor 2015” survey conducted by Esslingen University. One example: 56 percent of respondents stated that they always or regularly use paper forms; 32 percent use this method frequently or occasionally. That is not the way to do things in this day and age.

The Service Portal Provides the Necessary Basis

New digital servicing models have multiple effects. They increase customer satisfaction and customer loyalty because they help to fulfil their high expectations. They speed up processes and reduce costs because information is transmitted and processed without any media discontinuities. And they open up new opportunities for increasing sales and profits by offering added value that customers are prepared to pay for. The technological basis for all servicing models is a web-based service portal that integrates seamlessly into the existing system landscape. That is where all the data is made available and processed and the hub through which all processes are organized.  Some examples will illustrate the types of things that can be realized.

With digital machine data management, machines and equipment that a customer operates are mapped in a web portal, automatically enhanced with a variety of data. Apart from the master data of each asset, this can include images, technical specifications, or manuals. In addition, it is also possible to maintain machine performance records and to document maintenance activities. This provides a comprehensive picture of the machine that is helpful to both the customer and the manufacturer.

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When machine and equipment data is managed digitally, all the maintenance measures –  the six-monthly oil change, for instance – can be organized and managed in an automated manner. The automated process covers everything from the creation of a quotation and the placing of the order to the scheduling of the work and finally the invoicing.

Sensors fitted to machines and equipment continuously capture large volumes of data. The collection and analysis of this data facilitates continuous monitoring of the current condition of each piece of equipment. And potential failures can then be reliably anticipated through the use of predictive analytics. This allows maintenance measures to be initiated automatically in good time, thus preventing unplanned downtimes.

Digital machine data management also allows warranty claims to be managed in an automated manner. In the event of a defect, the customer can complete a warranty claim form with just a few clicks and send it to the manufacturer without any media discontinuity. Not only does the manufacturer then have the particular claim form directly in their system, it can also be processed there. Digital records of warranty claims can also help to identify a machine’s weak points, and this knowledge can be put to good use in the Engineering Department.

Manufacturers can use the data organized via a digital machine data management system as a basis for presenting tailor-made re-engineering proposals to customers. This benefits the customers as it helps them enhance the performance of their machines in a systematic manner. The manufacturers, for their part, thus establish a channel for cross-selling.

Digitale Maschinenverwaltung Keyvisual

Digital Machine Data Management: Key to Digital Services

Digital machine data management allows manufacturers to digitize their service operation, increasing customer satisfaction and opening up new sales opportunities.

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Monique Stoltenberg
Inside Sales