A field service engineer’s job can be a bit like looking for a needle in an enormous haystack. For example, trying to isolate the cause of a customer’s inexplicably high heating bill in the month of August. And for the longest time, companies made do, thinking the challenges of troubleshooting, such as scheduling inefficiencies and taking multiple trips to fix a problem were all part of the job.
Seattle-based contractor MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions turned that assumption on its head.
MacDonald-Miller serves customers throughout the Northwest United States, ensuring that their buildings’ HVAC and other systems are running efficiently. Last year, the company rolled out a connected building solution using Azure IoT, Dynamics 365 for Field Service, and ICONICS smart building software. Together they’ve armed MacDonald-Miller with targeted HVAC performance data, so its field services staff can take a much more efficient, surgical approach to solving issues in the field.
With this new system, when sensors in a furnace, air handler, or other component generate an alert in ICONICS, the alert is passed through to Dynamics 365 for Field Service, which automatically creates a trouble ticket for service staff. The ticket gives service techs a complete repair history and explains the nature of the current issue, so they can load the right tools and parts in their vehicle before leaving the shop for the day. And with Dynamics 365, dispatchers can more easily optimize each tech’s time in the field based on their location and expertise.
These capabilities have revolutionized the way that MacDonald-Miller’s field techs do their jobs, and have helped the company take a more proactive stance in meeting customers’ needs:
With its new facilities solution in place, MacDonald-Miller reduced time-to-completion for service calls by nearly two weeks. And having a better system for capturing leads and passing them on to the marketing team has helped increase profits and improve targeting of potential customers. Boston-based Nucleus Research found that these and other improvements accrued to a 282 percent return on MacDonald-Miller’s investment, with a payoff in just over eight months.
Perhaps most importantly, MacDonald-Miller set itself apart from the competition through a newfound ability to harness the Internet of Things and use it to help its customers be more energy efficient, which company CIO Brad Bussick says is critical in today’s market:
“Many of the new construction jobs we won last year we won because we offered an optimization component. No longer can a company walk into a bid situation and say, ‘We’re going to build your building’ and expect to land the job. You need an optimization solution, a way to analyze a building’s health in real-time to maintain energy efficiency over the life of the building. That’s good not just for building owners but for the planet.”
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