IFS Field Service Management upgrade best practices: Eickhoff customer story

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Live blog coverage from the IFS World Conference 2018 breakout session, “IFS Field Service Management upgrade best practices: Eickhoff customer story.”

Eickhoff was founded in 1864 as a foundry and a manufacturer of mining equipment. It’s been family-owned for five generations. €300m turnover on average, with 1100 employees. They have 7 subsidiaries, and also produce gearboxes, and gearboxes for wind turbines, in particular.

Their machines work in difficult conditions, very deep underground – or high in the sky, as the turbines are. The wind turbines are designed to have a 20-year life-span – so you need to support them for that.

A few years ago it became clear that they need to change the way they handled maintenance. They were using a mix of commercial and home-grown solutions: 13 in total. A single phone call could involve using many – or all – of them to book and organize work. An integrated system would make this much easier. In particular, they wanted a single data store – rather than replicating the data through multiple systems, through copy and pasting.

56 million parts in the database

Asset management was very important – many of their machines are unique, and the field workforce needed to be able to find out exactly what they were dealing with as soon as possible. However, they are not a per-minute business – the schedule by shifts. In total, they ended up with 500 requirements.

Their products are often in places with limited or no connectivity at all, deep underground with no access to GPS, WiFi or any form of cellular connectivity. The machines themselves can contain 12000 components. They actually 56,500,00 parts in the database. An aircraft has 4m parts…

Each of their parts is modeled in IFS FSM, allowing the engineer or customer to quickly identify the part. They also do reverse searches – working from parts and identifying which machines it can be used in.

The IFS FSM process

Their first meeting was in August 2013, with IFS Field Service Management selected and contracted a year later. They went live with mining in May 2016, and then upgraded to IFS Field Service Management (FSM) 5.6.3. They launched the customer portal in June last year. They chose to use their own service portal, still built on the IFS toolbox.

In October they took IFS FSM 5.7. Right now they a preparing to go live with the gear boxes department. They are going to be part of the early adopter program of IFS FSM 6.

One of the motivations for moving to IFS FSM 5.7 is the advent of the European GDPR regulations. IFS FSM 5.7 supports the data management it requires of anyone holding data on European citizen. Then IoT functionality was important, too, as was the model-based predictive maintenance. Even the enhancement to the screen layout, with more space for information, got very positive feedback from the users.

IFS FSM 5.7 prepared them for the future.

Managing weekday upgrades

That said, updates are always to be approached cautiously. They went through a process of testing with demo data, followed by a copy of the real data, before finally moving to the live data. They don’t do the update at the weekend or on a Friday. The do it Wednesday morning, with plenty of notification for the users, who can plan to do something else with the time.

That way they can get immediate feedback as soon as the system goes back up, and coach users through the new functionality. They can also deal with issues one by one as they arise, rather than watching issue stack up over the weekend or hit en masse on Monday morning. In extremis, they could roll back to the previous version.

Their main lessons:

  • keep it as standard as you can. Don’t invent the wheel again, use standards. They have five, small customizations.
  • data quality is key. Put the time in. To identify the data you need, find the right file types, and again use standards
  • communication – keep in touch with both your users and with IFS. No fake news for your users – just plenty of explanations

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