Great Cx with IoT-enabled transparency and digital documentation

Jun 8, 2015 12:00:00 AM


To remain competitive and competitive in the present “era of the customer,” machine manufacturers need to deliver the best possible customer experience throughout the lifecycle of the machinery they build and deploy. The internet of things (IoT), cloud technology, mobility, and modern ERP provide the backbone to make this effort practical and efficient. In today’s blog post, we walk through an optimal customer experience scenario early in a machine’s lifecycle, when it is manufactured, installed, and managed for best performance.

Customer experience as competitive distinction

In machine manufacturing, the customer mind set has changed to demand an efficient, enriching customer experience. Customers’ own clients are looking for prompt, responsive, reliable, always-on service and flawless products. They are looking to machine manufacturers to provide them with such an outstanding customer experience—both to remedy some long-standing pains, but also to benefit from the leadership that demonstrates how this can be done well. Their tolerance for complications and delays is lower than ever, but, if you can meet or exceed their expectations for the customer experience, your chances for building strong customer relationships that can withstand competitive challenges are also very high. If you want to survive and stand out from the field of equipment manufacturers, this is a powerful strategy to pursue.

Challenges of machine manufacturers’ customers

Early in the machinery lifecycle, frequent customer challenges have to do with accommodating the arrival and installation of the machine and getting it up and running in the shortest possible time. Technicians need to be trained in operating the equipment, and they also need to understand how to perform maintenance tasks and adjustments. They also have to know how to obtain and install spare parts.

Traditionally, machine manufacturers’ delivery lead times were not always accurate, and delays not infrequent. Training required key employees to step out of their regular jobs to learn from an instructor. Documentation to do with machine specifications, operation, maintenance, troubleshooting, repair, and spare parts usually came in form of reams of paper. Using it required reading, memorization, and searching with the help of a printed index—all time-consuming tasks that tended to disrupt the flow of productivity.

Io T E M1

By making smart use of the IoT, mobility, the cloud, and their back-office ERP, PLM, and other systems, machine manufacturers can create a superior customer experience. It might look like this:

Creating a great customer experience already before the installation

When the machine is still in production, the manufacturer can communicate with customer stakeholders to confirm the agreed delivery date or negotiate changes. From the ERP system, the manufacturer uploads machine configuration data and documentation to the machine cloud that will be accessible to the customer. The manufacturer notifies customer contacts to download the machine app to their devices. Initially, they will use the app to manage—or at least, confirm and approve—the installation of the new machine and receive machine master data and documentation.

The machine manufacturer and the customer can schedule the installation dependably for a certain date. The installation includes setup and activation of the IoT-connected sensors that broadcast data streams about any aspect of the machine’s functioning to the machine cloud. As soon as the machine runs and the sensors are on, the customer can review the data through the graphical, role-optimized reporting capabilities that are part of the machine app. The shop floor manager uses the app to verify that the machine produces within the tolerances and at the proper performance level. Technical engineers can navigate the app’s machine visualization to learn about available spare parts. The machine’s QR code or GPS coordinates can also display engineering information when an engineer with a mobile device is in the vicinity of the machine. The shop floor manager and engineers subscribe to the machine app’s notifications, so they find out about updated documentation or revised maintenance manuals ready for download as soon as the manufacturer saves them from the ERP system to the machine cloud.

Optimizing machine performance

When the shop floor manager wants to review the machine’s performance for her weekly reports, she queries the machine app for KPIs that she set up when operations started, for instance, the number of units of each type produced, throughput, quality assessments, overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), and unplanned downtimes. The app provides the data from the machine cloud. Because the OEE is below the target level, the shop floor manager goes a level deeper and reviews more detailed component data, which have never been available this way before. She identifies a component that appears to be causing the problem. To investigate further, she downloads that component’s data into Excel for further analysis together with other factors that might also impact OEE. Data is stored in the machine cloud in an analytical database, with multiple dimensions and measures, which makes it ready for analysis in a pivot table.

The shop floor manager pinpoints the OEE issue to a certain part that can be adjusted to accommodate the planned production runs. She meets with the machine operators to inform them about this action, and uploads her spreadsheet to the machine cloud for future reference.

Machine Manufacturing 3

As you see, nobody has to review stacks of printed documentation. Instead, the machine app provides contextual, easily navigated information. Data from the machine’s IoT-connected sensors verify performance levels and make it possible to answer machine-related questions. In the cloud, machine data remains available for analytical purposes and to support timely maintenance and machine innovation—scenarios we will look at next.

If you want to explore how you can deliver a great customer experience to your clients, let’s talk. Get in touch with me orcontact To-Increase


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About Author
Luciano Cunha

Luciano Cunha

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) For Luciano, being responsible for To-Increase’s global sales and marketing means unleashing the company’s insight, innovation, and creativity to tell our story and help customers achieve their goals. On the road much of the time, he travels the world to meet with customers, understand their challenges and ambitions, and find the most effective ways to help them advance. Luciano develops and mentors our marketing and sales team, and creates strategies to help the To-Increase worldwide partner channel thrive and grow.
Making Customer Needs the Main Business Driver Luciano and his team have daily conversations with the To-Increase research and development organization to bring customers’ requirements and concerns into the road maps and design of our solutions. Luciano brings his insight to the marketing group to make sure the company’s communications resonate with customers and speak directly to their experience.
“I’m awed by customers’ innovative spirit in taking business management technology past its limits and by their generosity in letting us participate and empower them. I hope to transform our organization to become even more customer-centric than we are today. That means making more resources available to spend productive time with both our customers and partners, so we can ensure that we place into customer businesses effective solutions that fit the evolutionary stage of their operation and the way their people and processes work.”
Empowering a Global Channel
Because To-Increase only sells through partners, readying the channel to be successful in helping customers is a business-critical effort. Luciano aims to meet partners where their interests are. Partners who consider the relationship with To-Increase strategic can rely on our industry specialists to work with them as they plan their growth and serve customers. If partners prefer a less collaborative relationship, they still receive the rich To-Increase expertise and resources to ensure they win the business, perform a successful deployment, and retain a satisfied customer. In working with partners and their customers, Luciano brings to bear his experience of many years of creating successful, customer-focused business development and marketing strategies in many of the world’s countries and regions.
Enabling Customer Success in Challenging Business Environments
Looking into the near future, Luciano expects that customers will continue to expect To-Increase to help them make business sense of unfolding trends and technologies. For example, the internet of things (IoT) will thoroughly revolutionize manufacturing, engineering, and supply chains. Big data will be meaningful and valuable when decision-makers can use technology solutions to transform it into actionable business intelligence that supports key roles and business processes. Mobility will help companies become digital enterprises and move business processes forward from any location, at any time. Team To-Increase harnesses innovation to help customers translate the promise of these technologies into business results.
Before his current role, Luciano for several years was one of To-Increase’s global industry directors, responsible for our industry solutions. His experience also spans more than 17 years in IT and manufacturing management roles. These positions took him into various areas at IBM Brazil, serving as product manager for several software development companies, and included working in senior management at a manufacturing organization in the U.S.
Luciano is married with two young children. Away from work, he enjoys participating in a soccer class together with his son and daughter as well as taking relaxing walks in natural environments with his family.

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