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The leap into service business challenges equipment manufacturers – one doesn’t necessarily need an in-house expert team for a successful transformation

Equipment manufacturers have always provided also services. However, the transformation of manufacturers into service providers is accelerating. The buyer of the device is already beginning to assume that digital value-added services will be provided with the product. A service model that brings a steady income stream enables rapid growth in revenue for the equipment manufacturer. Some manufacturers are switching to a subscription-based model with their devices, whereby the customer no longer owns the equipment but pays a monthly fee for the product and its upkeep.

However, the transition from an equipment manufacturer into a dynamic service provider is demanding. In principle, a service provider needs different capabilities than a device manufacturer. While previously the manufacturer's contact with the customer might have ended entirely after the sale’s completion, the service business requires constant correspondence with the customer.

Every device needs the internet

Implementing a service model requires a line-of-sight to the customer’s device. For maintenance and servicing it must be possible to monitor the status of the device and collect data from it. Is the battery still OK? How many operating hours there has been since the last service call?

Wireless firmware update capability is one of the most basic requirements. Upgrading physically from a USB stick is not only clumsy but also a cost issue if the manufacturer needs to employ an extensive service and support organization to perform the physical update.

A network connection is required to remotely monitor the device. It is a “wireless cornerstone” upon which service models can be developed and built.

Implementing Internet connectivity is easier than ever today. A key factor in development is 5G mobile technology. It allows devices to connect to the network at high connection speeds or, alternatively, requiring very little power.

However, equipping devices with network connectivity is rarely part of a manufacturer’s core competence. The challenge is emphasised by the fact that networking is becoming more and more complex.

Help with challenges of all levels

The Internet of Things (IoT) is facing new regulation in the EU, for example in terms of data security and eco-efficiency. In addition, the development process itself places new preconditions on implementation. For example, the miniaturization of electronics and the need to localize the network functionality of the tiniest devices must be considered in the design.

Utilizing expert assistance in the design and implementation of network-connected devices may now make more sense than ever. You don't have to reinvent the wheel.

Etteplan has a wealth of network design experience from numerous development projects, which benefits equipment manufacturers regardless of their maturity level. Etteplan also maintains hundreds of thousands of tiny IoT devices as part of its customers' digital services.

“One vendor may wonder what the best way to set up a network connection would be. Another may need support with implementing functionality over an existing connection. The third wants to build a business case on top of previous levels. We can help our customers in all these situations” says Eero Kaappa, Etteplan's Business Development Director.

Etteplan can assist device manufacturers in designing Internet connectivity, either on a turnkey basis or in support of the manufacturer's R&D team in the event of a change. A customer who takes advantage of Etteplan’s Dynamic Delivery Teams service does not have to worry about where to find a sufficient number of specialists for a limited period but can focus on carrying out the transformation.