Fear Not the Robots

Learn How Robots Are Tightening the Screws of Field Service Operations 

For decades, scientists have been predicting that dire consequences will occur as a result of our growing reliance on technology. Robots, in particular, are a deep worry for many, who say robots will replace not only every worker on factory floors and construction sites – but they will also replace pilots, physicians, attorneys, journalists and people in many other professions.

In his 2015 book “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future,” author Martin Ford provides many examples of how robots (or robot-like technologies) are wreaking havoc on the world economy – causing low employment, income inequality and falling demand for goods and services.

While a robot uprising worries Mr. Ford and many other people, we recommend taking a step back and looking at how robots are transforming many industries today – including field service – and thinking about what we can expect in the not-so-distant future.

It’s true. Robots are everywhere.

Some robots we don’t see every day because they’re on factory floors and inside tunnels. Those are generally the robots we think of when we hear the term robot: they have moving parts, such as limb-like structures and swiveling heads. But others are behind the scenes, helping us through checkout lanes in grocery stores, guiding us through airport check-in, and spitting out $20 bills from ATM machines.

If you find it hard to wrap your head around the idea that those types of behind-the-scenes robots are actually robots, perhaps envision what makes those behind-the-scenes, so-called robots work – big data, artificial intelligence, software – and consider that the term robot is often used interchangeably with those terms.

The important roles that field service robots play.

Field service operations have for quite some time enjoyed robot-like precision in handling mid-office and back-office tasks such as scheduling, dispatching, setting workflows, optimizing routes, tracking the whereabouts of technicians via GPS and invoicing. Robotic precision in the back office has also enabled technicians in the field to perform their jobs with speed and efficiency: registering time and materials, checking inventory, and getting customer approval of work completed.

Think of some of the other ways that field service organizations are “robiticizing” their operations: Drones are increasingly being deployed to check the status of hazardous situations; their view from high above a job site eliminates the need for huge trucks and ladders and hoist systems to monitor the workings of equipment and processes on the ground. Robots traverse difficult terrain to deliver job-site equipment or to perform search and rescue missions. Robot-like vehicles are driving pilings for structural foundations. The list goes on, and the list of robotic capabilities will grow.

But don’t fear robots; embrace them.

Let robots do your dirty and dangerous work in the field, such as identifying where gas leaks are occurring and carrying monstrously heavy steel beams and girders to steep hillsides. Let them fetch soil samples on hazardous waste sites to keep employees safe from exposure. With their bird’s-eye view, let them gather data for you. Let technicians peer through devices like AR glasses and be guided by the seemingly limitless intelligence within these devices to enable them to complete their complex tasks the first time and every time.

Just as robot-like devices such as the Roomba (a handy little robotic vacuum cleaner) don’t replace us – rather, they help us keep our floors tidy – robots in the field will make technicians’ work safer, more efficient and more precise.

Robotic technology investment can tighten the screws of your operation.

An investment in robotics by field service organizations can be an all-around win:

  1. Technicians in the field appreciate the ease with which they can carry out dangerous tasks, leading to more job satisfaction and less turnover.
  2. Mid-office and back-office staff will perform more efficiently and with fewer errors, causing less stress and frustration.
  3. Customers will appreciate the presence of technology that ensures their equipment and systems run flawlessly.
  4. Executives realize improved productivity and higher margins. 

Robots are a reality in today’s global economy, and they are sure to appear in public spaces in more complex shapes than we now see. Over the next two decades, we’ll certainly see more robots that mimic the way humans walk and pick up objects. There will also be more behind-the-scenes robotic brains in ATMs, kiosks and other such structures. While some job displacement may occur, we all need to stand down from our fears of a robot uprising. We need to remember that robots are sophisticated machines, here to help us perform better.

Let Gomocha show you how FMP360 can help your organization get robot-ready.

Robots are unlikely to replace human engineers entirely, but they have the potential to dramatically improve the safety and effectiveness of field service operations. While we firmly believe there will always be a need for humans in the field, we have roboticized the digitalization of field service to ensure that our customers are ready for the future. If your human engineers are working with spreadsheets and/or paper forms of any type, we want to demonstrate how our robotic approach to a digital field service operation can prepare your organization for the future. Schedule a demo today. We’ll even customize the demo to mimic the dynamics of your unique organization.