Verisae CEO Jerry Dolinsky talks exclusively to Kris Oldland about why IoT is the future of field service. However it is not something we can jump straight into by just flipping a few switches he warns…
From within the opening salvo of my conversation with Verisae CEO, Jerry Dolinsky it is clear that the Verisae mission isn’t a humble one. His view of the world is of one that is changing, and one which is doing so rapidly – and he sees Verisae sitting firmly at the heart of much of that change.
“Our vision is that we want to connect up every facility and every asset and connect those assets to every service team around the world via IoT products,” he explains – without doubt that he and his team can in fact achieve this feat.
However, IoT is just one part of their overall strategy.
Our vision is that we want to connect up every facility and every asset and connect those assets to every service team around the world via IoT products
The first of these is a rich asset management and facility maintenance solution which boasts a particularly healthy client list including the likes of supermarket giants, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose, Tesco and Co-Op within the UK alone.
On the back of this platform they then stepped into the IoT space, initially working alongside Sainsbury’s on an IoT suite that is to date monitoring over 70,000 pieces for equipment, checking units for condition – whether it be for food quality, food safety, or simply because a unit is consuming too much energy.
The final piece of the puzzle is mobile workforce management, which very much sits in the model of traditional scheduling, dispatch and mobile tools as well as optimisation from both product and resources perspective etc.
Given their broad range of offerings, Dolinsky is perfectly placed to share an opinion on how technology is driving service forward.
Is there a particular technology taking the lead in the evolution we are seeing, or is it more the coming together of many technologies developing at once that is the major driving factor in change?
“There are really four compelling things that are forcing change,” Dolinsky asserts.
“Firstly there is the lowering cost of mobile and BYOD, where I no longer need to go and spend $3000 dollars on a rugged mobile device for mobile field work.”
“Then there is big data – I just had our user conference in the UK three weeks ago where we brought all our customers together and the next day we brought a number of their contractors and OEMs together. What we got back from the customers was they are continually looking to do things better, faster, cheaper.”
“That was the message they wanted us to take to the OEMs and contractors.”
Then there is big data – I just had our user conference in the UK three weeks ago where we brought all our customers together and the next day we brought a number of their contractors and OEMs together. What we got back from the customers was they are continually looking to do things better, faster, cheaper
Of course in any sector there are early adopters and laggards. However, at least within the sectors that Verisae are primarily operating in (retail, utilities and telco) the need to embrace technology has become requisite believes Dolinsky.
“Lets focus on the grocery sector within the UK – which is highly competitive with everybody across the corner from each other,” he begins.
“What do you need to do? You need to offer the highest level of customer service, you need to reduce food loss due to equipment failure, you need to ensure that the quality and safety of the food is of the highest standards and you need to get the longest life out of my equipment at the lowest operating costs.”
“So I think that everybody at least from that sector, has seen the implementation of automation technologies as imperative for a while but because of the competing capital costs it was just never affordable to do.”
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Of course in retail as with many other sectors there is a complicated service chain which can involve end users (the supermarkets themselves for instance) but also OEMs and third party contractors.
However, the same pressures exist for all three further driving the need for IoT and automation, although amongst the contractor and OEM communities take up for such technology appears to be somewhat slower.
“OEMs and contractors know it is a very competitive market. Supermarket giant can push back and say ‘You’ve got to reduce costs’ – the only way the can make money is to reduce overall operating costs.” Dolinsky explains
“I had 90 of these service providers in a room who all did business with my customers and what they simply said was margins are getting tighter while our customers are expecting more. Yet when I asked them what tools they are using todaymany of them said they were still paper based. If you have 100 techs out there using paper – how are you going to get it better, faster cheaper?”
“The only way to do that is to automate things.”
Indeed, good implementation of technology can yield better service standards for the customer whilst reducing the cost of providing maintenance. Something Dolinsky was able to demonstrate with a real-life example.
“Refrigeration units within a Sainsbury’s grocery store need to hold a set temperature for different produce, in order to keep the food inside fresh across it’s shelf life. “
“So how we automate things here – for both sides the contractor and the owner of the equipment, is through a rules engine that is monitoring the temperature and basically says when that fridge goes above a defined threshold what do you want to do?” He explains.
They can then frame up all the telemetry data, what’s happening with compressors and things that could be going wrong, and the person behind the screen could recommend a temporary fix or control change without the expense of an emergency site visit.
“The local store receives that message and they can have a look at the unit and see if the door has been left open or they are restocking – both of which would cause the temperature to go up. If that’s the case an engineer doesn’t need to be sent out – they can resolve the issue right at the location.”
“Alternatively if the guys on site can’t see an obvious reason why the temperature is rising then the system will send it to an individual who can connect remotely to the unit.
“They can then frame up all the telemetry data, what’s happening with compressors and things that could be going wrong, and the person behind the screen could recommend a temporary fix or control change without the expense of an emergency site visit.”
“Just like you would change the temperature on the thermostat in your house for example.” The system would then continue to monitor the issue, but corrective action could be taken in a more planned way. Especially useful if the issue occurs overnight when the store is closed.”
So there is a clear benefit for contractors and OEMs turning to technology to help them not only meet their clients growing expectations but also reduce their own expenses. But it is not just a case of switching on an IoT button.
The technology must be introduced systematically if it is going to work.
Again Dolinsky has a real-life example to hand just to illustrate this point. This time it is from the other side of the Atlantic as we take trash compactor manufacturer, Bace as a case study.
“They came to us and said we want to move into IoT,” Dolinsky begins.
“I said great we have a solution for you where we can monitor your trash compactors, tell if it’s working or if it’s not, how full it is etc”
“The first question we asked them was ‘can you tell us where the units are?’ Can you tell us the physical location, how many are there, the model numbers and the year they were manufactured?”
We use a term that we make big data small. Having a report at the end of the week that tells you what’s wrong and why doesn’t provide a lot of value. It has to be real-time to change things and get the right technician with the right parts where they’re needed as effectively as possible.”
“So first off we got them working with our asset management solution, so they can track the overall life expectancy of that piece of equipment and the overall maintenance cost of it.”
“The next question we asked them was ‘what is your mobile workforce management solution?’ The response was that the engineers were still all on paper. So again advised them that we’d also need to get them automated before they could move to IoT.”
“We use a term that we make big data small. Having a report at the end of the week that tells you what’s wrong and why doesn’t provide a lot of value. It has to be real-time to change things and get the right technician with the right parts where they’re needed as effectively as possible.”
What is clear is that IoT is set to have a profound place in the future of field service and for those companies not already embracing it – the need to find time for putting together a development roadmap to enable you to an IoT enabled future is becoming more pressing with each passing day.