IBM and SAP are teaming up to create industry-specific accelerators so clients can digitally transform their businesses. These new solutions will provide a clear roadmap to making systems and processes function more efficiently and improve the customer experience.

Together, we’re offering our second co-designed, industry-specific offering for industrial machinery and components (IM&C) companies to improve their customers’ overall equipment effectiveness. These businesses build machines used everywhere — from agricultural equipment to paper mills.

The IBM Cognitive Field Services (CFS) solution aims to help reduce maintenance and service costs while maximizing field technicians’ performance. This is especially important because a large percentage of total lifetime cost of equipment lies in maintenance and repair.

Traditionally, when there was planned maintenance or an unplanned breakdown of industrial equipment, work orders for the field technician would be reactively entered and prioritized  in the service management system. Field technicians would then do a diagnostic, complete the order for the system, and, if needed, replenish available spare parts. This manual and time-consuming process did not include the best recommendations for resolutions, resulting in repeat work orders. The billing and invoicing were also previously disconnected, delaying the businesses’ cash flow.

With the new CFS solution, IM&C businesses can now analyze near-real-time operational data to support optimal planning and scheduling of maintenance services, helping to maximize field technicians’ performance by delivering the right information into their hands. The ability to handle unplanned work orders means higher margins and customer satisfaction for the business, plus a more efficient workforce.

For example, a technician receiving a work order would receive a better recommendation on what they need to specifically repair. After making necessary changes, they can then document how the issue was resolved and close the work order. Over time, the data collected from the technician’s use improves how precise the recommendations are over time, better preparing them to “fix it right the first time.”

CFS is based on innovative solutions from IBM and SAP, including SAP Leonardo, SAP Cloud Platform, and SAP Hybris solutions, as well as IBM Cognitive Advisors and Services, to prescriptively and more accurately prioritize the technicians’ work order based on machine learning. All of this builds on SAP S/4HANA and deep industry insights from IBM Services and the SAP industry business unit.

By offering complementary sets of capabilities and industry-specific solutions, IM&C clients can schedule maintenance accordingly and field technicians can maximize their performance. By optimizing the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), businesses can increase customer satisfaction, and proactive spare part sales based on CFS recommendations means additional revenue growth and more opportunities to upsell and cross sell.

This groundbreaking new tool for IM&C companies will address the entire life cycle of the after-market service process.

Manish Chawla is global general manager for Industrial Products at IBM, which includes the Manufacturing, Resources and Construction segments. Manish is accountable for setting strategy, developing industry solutions, driving marketing, sponsoring key alliances, and nurturing skills and domain capabilities across sales and delivery. With more than 20 years of experience in these industries, Manish is currently drives Digital Re-invention with Industry 4.0 / Internet of Things and IBM’s AI solutions. His clientele has included Air Products, DuPont, Merck KGaA, Lubrizol, Petronas, Shell, BP, Inpex, Reliance, BHP, FMG, Adani, ABG. Manish joined IBM in 2008, previously working at BearingPoint US (formerly KPMG Consulting) and Accenture in India and the UK. Manish holds an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India and a Bachelors in Engineering from Delhi College of Engineering, University of Delhi, India. He lives in Delhi, India, with his wife and two daughters.

Stefan Krauss is the general manager for Discrete Industries at SAP. Together with his team, he is responsible for the integrated management of the Aerospace & Defense, Automotive, High Tech, and Industrial Machinery & Components industries, spanning development, solution management, sales and marketing, value engineering, partner management, services, and support. The mission of this unit is to deliver industry cloud solutions that help SAP customers sustainably innovate and grow their business, operate safely, and develop their people.