When it comes to field service and enterprise asset management, geospatial information systems (GIS) provide a wealth of information at your fingertips. Beyond simple location data, GIS plays a role in a healthy field service business as well as keeping apprised of such details as how asset location changes over time.
The ability to extend that data to field technicians and crews, allowing for real-time feedback and/or updates to assets, is critical to field data accuracy. At the same time, we understand the importance of ensuring the accuracy of an asset database, whether that’s an internal database or a third-party solution like Esri ArcGIS. Enabling automated approval workflows before updates are made directly to the database helps alleviate errors, while empowering field technicians with the tools they need to provide feedback about what they’re seeing vs what the database depicts.
With all this knowledge and experience on the subject, we thought it was time to share it with the greater field service community. Here are the 7 best uses of GIS data for field service and asset management.
1. Heat Map of Territories with High Customer Demand
If you’re like most service companies or organizations that maintain internal or customer-owned assets, resource capacity planning is a going concern.
With the help of GIS and field service management automation software, it’s easy to generate a heat map of customer locations visualized on a map.
Heat maps allow you to determine how to distribute and adjust technician territories based on customer demand. Better service capacity planning is a key aspect of effective mobile field workforce management.
2. Audit Work Order History
Being aware of what is happening in the field is half the story. The other half is understanding the history behind a completed work order.
Effective work order audits may include:
- Checking technician tracks for such things as stops throughout the day or along a route
- Reviewing status changes (arrival, departure, etc.) to ensure such things as customer invoicing accuracy
- Knowing when a work order was completed and where the technician was located at the time
The insights gleaned can be used for many different purposes, from identifying which technicians require more training to debriefing on improvements that could be made to the overall process.
In the case of asset-intensive industries with complicated regulatory and compliance requirements, the data can be used to confirm what happened, when and by whom.
3. Redline Esri Asset Updates in the Field
A key aspect of enterprise asset management is accurate GIS data. For this, many field service companies leverage Esri ArcGIS.
Being able to redline asset updates to reflect changes in the field increases efficiency, while ensuring the data is as accurate as possible.
At the same time, we know updates to a source of record such as your Esri asset database are not implemented lightly. That’s why we recommend associating automated approval workflows to escalate reviews and sign-offs at various levels of an organization as a great way to keep things in sync.
4. Optimize Routes to Reduce Travel Time
It seems that as technology progress marches forward, some things do stay the same. Field service companies still strive to reduce windshield time. Route optimization software is not new. It’s rather old news in the realm of field service software. However, it is evolving to be more sophisticated at being able to take different factors into account.
For instance, Field Squared allows you to select clusters of job and run them through an automated route optimization routine that recommends the optimum route to minimize travel or windshield time.
5. Spatial Proximity Analysis
With so many assets—internal or customer-owned—to keep track of and work orders to complete, how do you know up from down or right from left? The answer: spatial proximity analysis.
Basically, spatial proximity analysis is where technicians spend their time in relation to an asset.
If you have many technicians at a site conducting scheduled maintenance on an asset, you can correlate the GPS breadcrumbs against those assets.
6. Thematic Mapping with Assets
Tying into spatial proximity analysis is thematic mapping. Thematic mapping of assets is one of my favorite methods by which field service companies have the opportunity to produce a data-backed cost-benefit analysis of their operations.
The process includes attributing a theme to the same or similar assets in order to quickly visualize differences. Typically, this is best represented on a map, which adds a layer of location data to the analysis.
Let’s take an oil and gas services company as an example. To visually represent higher producing versus lower producing well sites, you would simply associate an alternate color.
The color difference is a quick visual cue to the operations manager or executive management about how different wells are performing. The data can be used to make more informed decisions about the longevity of the well site. You can ask yourself questions such as,
- Which wells utilize the most resources?
- Which wells are the lowest producing?
- Should a lower producing well be decommissioned?
Thematic mapping not only includes the use of color, you can also use an icon to differentiate assets. It should just be visually different, allowing you to easily pick out the assets on a map.
7. Demographic Map Overlays for Prospecting
Employing GIS map overlays like those provided by Esri ArcGIS, have so many uses that we could (and maybe will) write a blog post focusing on the subject.
What we find particularly useful for field service companies is using demographic map overlays for prospecting purposes. This type of information enables sales and operations teams to see where there may be opportunities for new clients. This map shows projected population changes in the U.S. You can easily leverage this information to chart future territories.
All in all, our list of the 7 best uses of GIS data for field service and asset management are just the tip of the iceberg. There are a plethora of additional uses to consider as in your field service and asset management strategy.
Want to read more? Check out Field Squared’s Enterprise Asset Management capabilities.