Servitization is a transformation journey that takes place in various areas of a company: organization, human resources, business model, field services, research and product development, and more. The introduction of new digital technologies is one of the areas you will have to face.
This work can be divided into steps. The first digital step towards servitization is certainly making your products “connected products”. Once this is done, you will also need to manage connected products in their after-production life cycle.
For the provision of advanced services it is essential to know in what conditions your product is running: its operating status, its wear levels, its operating parameters, etc. You must also have this information continuously and in real time. Traditional VPN-based remote control systems, for instance, are not enough for this purpose. The product must always be connected and constantly send its operating data to a central system. It is therefore necessary to insert the appropriate IoT technologies (embedded board or gateway) into the product.
To start, the data currently available on the PLC could be enough. In the future, in a process of continuous improvement, you may want to add additional sensors, to collect data needed to provide a better service. If your product does not have a PLC, you need to investigate which sensors could be added to measure the minimum variables needed for service delivery.
Once the Connected Product has been created, you will have to think about its management. This is a new need for a manufacturing company, not satisfied by any of the traditional information systems.
Managing a connected product in the after-production life cycle means:
Thanks to IoT technologies you have created a connected product, you have started selling it, customers have installed and activated it, the product sends its operating data to your central information system, the data is transformed into useful information for your company, and you keep track of all the most important events concerning the “after-production” life of the product.
At this point you can declare the first step completed. You can also record some important achievements:
The main value of this first step, fundamentally, is to have new information available.
You are therefore ready for the second step: creating value from services. We will see it in a future post.