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Turning IoT sensor data into action

With the explosion of IoT, HVAC-R service teams are eyeing down sensors to create new revenue streams and elevate customer experience. It’s a great opportunity, but difficult and often manually intensive to translate the data into informed actions. This is not unique to the HVAC-R industry, as McKinsey & Co reports:

“The biggest barriers companies face in extracting value from data and analytics are organizational; many struggle to incorporate data-driven insights into day-to-day business processes.” — McKinsey & Co

So how do HVAC-R teams bridge the gap between collecting data and applying it?

Alarms must be intelligent

An SMS or email alarm is sent when a threshold has been exceeded on a sensor. Imagine an HVAC-R service company receives an alarm every Saturday from the motor in commercial refrigerators running longer than normal. This should be expected as customer traffic is increased on the weekend. After a while, the trust in the alarms decreases to the point that the alarms become noise rather than a helpful diagnostic tool. Alarms must be configurable to take into consideration other variables in order to be relied upon and receive the attention required to trigger action.

Equipment data needs to be in context of history

When a service technician receives an alarm, several questions will come to mind: When was the last service? History of repairs? Is this a recurring issue? If so, perhaps it would be more economical to the customer to take a different approach to the solution.

Action should be suited to the customer

Commercial customers will have unique needs with varying service level agreements. Understanding the history of the customer and the promises you’ve made will elevate the customer experience and ensure your valuable contracts receive the special attention they deserve.

Context must be accessible and action automated

You must be thinking, to find the context as discussed above sounds like a lot of manual work. You’re right, it can be. This is a critical bridge to further ignite the adoption of connected devices, particularly when using sensors for a Product-as-a-Service. In order to eliminate that manual work and create a trusted, reliable workflow we need to see the world of CRM, scheduling, and operations software pull in the IoT data rather than operate in separate spaces. Luckily, we’ve done just that.

— Shelby Eberle