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As an SAP specialist for Aftermarket Service in the Industrial Machinery & Components industry, I am having lots of discussions with our customers. Each day I am learning new aspects about the challenges they are facing in their Service business. In this blog, I will discuss some of these challenges and how companies can manage them using innovative digital technologies.

Manufacturers of industrial equipment are facing major challenges in aftermarket service. Customers have increasingly higher expectations for the Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) and are asking manufacturers for a guarantee of excellent performance. Often, an OEE target is defined in a service contract. On one hand this is good for the manufacturer when looking at long-term customer retention – but on the other hand, this creates the challenge of ensuring this OEE through perfect service.

Manufacturers are also facing new competitors in service. Previously, it was natural that the equipment manufacturer also provided equipment-related services like maintenance or repair. Now, new competitors are arising such as: other manufacturers who now offer multi-brand equipment services, service providers, and the customers’ own maintenance departments.

Fortunately, new technologies are now available to help industrial equipment manufacturers in optimizing their service – but they must be proactive in leveraging and integrating these technologies into their processes. With that, each service employee will have a “Super Brain”.


Let’s put ourselves into the shoes of Sally, a service employee working for a manufacturer of complex machines, who exemplifies the concept of a “Super Brain”. It goes like this:


Sally is responsible for many machines, all running on different customer sites. Through IoT she monitors her machines remotely and has a comprehensive view on their condition and health. Predictive maintenance allows her to look into the future by notifying her of potential issues that might jeopardize the OEE. She doesn’t have to wonder what needs to be done to prevent these issues - as cognitive capabilities will provide her the right recommendations based upon learnings from the past, the knowledge of thousands of engineers, and dependencies and patterns a human being wouldn’t recognize.

Sally only needs to select the recommendation provided by the system. For example, Sally is alerted that a spare part needs to be exchanged on the machine to prevent an issue. She then prepares this field service job - ensuring that the right field service technician will be on site at the right time equipped with the right parts and tools.

Sally selects Tom as the best suited technician to exchange parts. Tom then travels to the customer’s site, leveraging a mobile app that provides him with all the information that he needs to do his job most efficiently. Upon inspecting the machine, Tom identifies more issues and gets support through cognitive capabilities that tell him how to best fix them. After successfully completing the job, Tom provides his valuable feedback and learnings. This input is used by the cognitive capabilities to improve future recommendations.


The result: a perfectly prepared and executed field service job that prevented an issue and thus resulted in an optimal OEE of the machine. All of that through good service employees, an end-to-end field service software solution, and the “Super Brain” – cognitive advisors and services.


Is this story too good to be true? No! It can be made reality: with the new IBM Cognitive Field Services (CFS) solution. CFS is based on innovative solutions from IBM and SAP including SAP® Leonardo, SAP Cloud Platform, SAP Hybris as well as IBM Cognitive Advisors and Services, to prescriptively and more accurately prioritize the right services based on machine learning. This all builds on SAP S/4HANA® and deep industry insights from IBM Services and the SAP industry business unit.


Could that solution also help you to overcome your challenges in Service? If you have this impression, then learn more about this solution here:

SAP News Center

Digital Transformation with IBM and SAP

YouTube video

I am happy to hear from you what you think about this innovative solution.


Ulf Guttmann

Ulf Guttmann focuses on solution management and go-to-market for SAP’s Industrial Machinery and Components Business Unit. With over 26 years of SAP experience, Guttmann is well versed in the aftermarket service, enterprise asset management, and IoT solution areas.