Most mornings I spend some time reading technology blogs and articles to stay informed on the latest advancements in technology. Technology is advancing faster than ever before and keeping up with the latest advancements requires constant monitoring.
I learned the importance of this a few years ago while calling on a customer, HP.
At that time, printer technology was advancing every 18 months, making printers manufactured before the technology advancement must be sold at significant discount or be discarded. HP tried to keep in pace or, preferably, the leader in printer technology. They were reasonably concerned about having a ship load of printers leaving their manufacturing plants in Asia and becoming outdated before arriving at their retailers.
Keeping Pace or Becoming Leaders in New Technologies
Those companies who are able to understand how the newest technologies can grow their business through increased sales, increased efficiency in operations, and lower cost (to name a few) will have significant advantage over their competitors who fail to keep up with technology because they will become market leaders and experts in their industry.
An article I read this morning titled, “How Evrythng (sic) could give any physical object a life online” (http://thenextweb.com/insider/2012/02/20/evrythng-internet-of-things/) is an example of technology that is now under development that may have a significant impact on Service Companies (Plumbers, HVAC, Handyman, Pool Service, Carpet Cleaning, Residential Cleaning, Commercial Cleaning, Security Services, etc.), particularly in tracking inventory in company service vans because technology does not yet exist to remove the “human element” in the process. To track inventory accurately, a company has to rely on all technicians remembering to add all parts used on every job to an invoice or inventory software system. This human element guarantees inaccurate data regardless of whether a company uses a “carrot” or “stick” approach with its technicians.
Reducing Technician Travel to Pick up Parts
In many service companies, the parts are a small percentage of the overall cost of most jobs, i.e. a leaky faucet that uses only a single, inexpensive washer ring to eliminate the leak. In this instance, the cost of the washer is insignificant in the total amount charged to the customer for the service call. However, the cost of the part as a percentage of the job cost is not the only factor important to a service company. Knowing what parts need restocking on service vans to prevent the technician from having to make a very costly trip to the company warehouse or vendor, is in many cases, a bigger issue. Additionally, technicians who are paid hourly, rather than commission, have little incentive to reduce trips for needed parts.
Tracking Inventory on Company Service Vehicles: Removing the Human Element
Removing the human element will most likely be accomplished when very small, inexpensive digital devices can be attached to parts that can then be automatically read by digital detectors on company service vehicles that are integrated with a software inventory system. I believe this technology will be developed, most likely sooner than later. “Evrythng” (http://evrythng.com/) just may be the technology to do it.