Like many organizations worldwide, Carel is a product company with ambitious plans to grow its services business. In Carel’s case, the products in question are control systems for air-conditioning, refrigeration and heating equipment in homes and businesses worldwide.
Traditionally, it sold its products through Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and left the servicing of products up to them – but in recent years, the firm has become an OEM itself through acquisition and is working hard on a corporate strategy to become closer to its end-customers and to capitalize on the opportunities for growth that a thriving services business could drive.
With that in mind, the Padova, Italy-based global company recently established a new After-Sales & Service organization, headed by Riccardo Bianchi. He explains:
What’s interesting to us at Carel now is that after a product is sold, there’s a whole lifetime that happens for that product that can go on for 10, 20 years, sometimes more – and there is value in this period for us as a company, in terms of maintenance, customer service, data science, product development and so on.
A great deal of the data relating to the performance and condition of a product in this period, as it operates out in the field, comes from Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, he says. As a result, Carel’s service offering must cover a wide range of activities: commissioning repairs and contract work; remote operation and monitoring of systems and components; and subscriptions for dedicated remote systems:
Since we have millions of products and hundreds of thousands of connected units out in the world, managing all that data and using it to service products wouldn’t be possible through human effort and manual processing alone – so as we continue to grow our services business, we had a real need to bring some automation into the picture, to keep everything under control.
A 360 view of service requirements
That led Carel to ServiceMax, which launched ServiceMax Asset 360 for Salesforce in September 2020. This new product is built on Salesforce Field Service, and brings in ServiceMax’s asset-centric approach to help customers keep critical assets running in the field.
The thinking behind this tie-up is that plenty of organizations are thinking beyond the standard break-fix model, and now prioritizing uptime for assets and the provision of a better experience for customers. According to Bianchi, ServiceMax Asset 360 will assist Carel in its goals of:
...up-levelling our service, focusing on service profitability, customer experience and uptime. Starting from asset management, it will bring in our maintenance operations in the field and help us manage our depots and warehouses for repairs, spare parts and so on.
It’s early days yet for this project, which Carel is carrying out alongside implementation partner TechEdge. The contract was signed with ServiceMax in the fall of 2020, with work beginning in December. A roll-out in Carel’s home ground of Italy is imminent, with 26 other countries worldwide coming on board by the end of this year.
Once complete, this project will enable Carel to set up a ‘control tower’ at its Italian headquarters that covers its entire worldwide service operations, Bianchi explains.
We will have a much closer view on the activities of our colleagues all around the world, collaborating with them, sharing information on asset procedures and speeding up daily work and activities. The control tower will have lots of screens displaying metrics and dashboards, fed by information from customers and colleagues, to keep global field operations visible and under control.
We’re also planning to show regional trends, with screens showing maps of the world with their specific trends in requests, contracts and IoT monitoring.
That will be important in terms of consistency, he says. The products that Carel sell are the same from region to region, as are the procedures to monitor and repair them. A web portal from ServiceMax will bring customers into the picture, keeping them up-to-date on the maintenance of the Carel equipment they have in their homes, offices, factories, shops and data centers and enabling them to collaborate with the company.
As Bianchi puts it:
Every customer is different and has their different needs, requirements and expectations. Data and visibility are the key to us making sure that all of these are met for every customer, every time.