Monday, 6:00 a.m.; you are a service manager, and have been with the company for 20 years; you're 45 years old, with greying temples; happily married, with two daughters: 13 and 16.
The alarm will go off at half-past six; you snooze a little longer; it was a nice weekend. Sunday morning: Late breakfast, a lovely mountain hike with the family, and then an evening meal with friends... it was lovely... but suddenly, at 6:05 a.m. your work phone rings. A young service colleague from China is on the line. He has been tinkering with the system for twelve hours, but there is no way he can get it to work. Unshaven, you jump into your car and drive to the airport. At the counter you use your company credit card to buy a vastly overpriced ticket to Hong Kong.
You're now facing 11 hours of “cattle class”. On Tuesday morning you land in Hong Kong and immediately take a cab to your location. Your young Chinese service colleague is still at a loss. You ask: “Where is the service manual?” There is nothing there. Cue dozens of phone calls and countless WhatsApp messages with the German head of development... finally, just before 10:00 p.m. local time, and just before the customer’s Chinese production manager explodes with rage, you finally get the system running again thanks to your 20 years of experience. You spend a short, restless night at the hotel before flying back to Frankfurt on Wednesday morning on flight LHL 797. Thursday, 8:00 a.m.; you get to the office with dark circles under your eyes. 450 unread emails and 8 fixed appointments are ahead of you... welcome to the world of "Service 1.0"
Scenario “Service 2.0”
Until your arrival at the location in Hong Kong, the story is exactly the same. But you find as-built service documentation in paper format next to the system. You know that your young Chinese service colleague will be unable to get the system running, even with the as-built service documentation. The system was in operation long before your young colleague even started working for the company. It takes you 8 hours to get the system running again, and then you spend the night at the hotel and fly back to Frankfurt on Wednesday; 11 hours in cattle class. On Thursday you're completely spent, but you somehow deal with your emails and appointments at the office...
Scenario “Service 3.0”
Once again, everything is exactly the same until you get to the location in Hong Kong. However, your young Chinese colleague had no difficulty getting the mechanical part of the system running again with the help of the as-built service documentation. However, he's a little stuck when it comes to the control system. Even though the HMI (Human Machine Interface) provides context-sensitive help, the young colleague cannot get the control software to work. It takes you 2 hours to get the system up and running again... surely your colleague should have been able to do that on his own. 8 weeks ago he attended an English face-to-face training course in Germany – could the English language barrier have presented a problem to the young Chinese man...? You spend the afternoon in the hotel pool, and fly back home on Wednesday, in order to deal with the daily madness on Thursday.
Monday, 6:00 a.m.; you are a service manager, and have been with the company for 20 years; you're 45 years old, with greying temples; happily married, with two daughters: 13 and 16...
The alarm goes off at 6:30 a.m.; you have breakfast with your family. You leave your house at 8:30 a.m. and drive to work. At 9:00 a.m. you chat with colleagues by the coffee machine about your weekend and then get to work. From 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. you have a weekly department meeting with your service colleagues. You get to your PC at 11:00 a.m. and find an email from your Chinese service colleague asking if you could do a telemaintenance session with him at 11:30 a.m....
...the story so far: Your young Chinese service colleague got to the system in Hong Kong on Monday afternoon local time and scanned the QR code on the system with his tablet, which then displayed the mobile as-built service documentation. He started repairing the system. But he got stuck when replacing the circulation pump in the system. He clicked on the AR link (Augmented Reality) in the mobile documentation and aimed the camera of the tablet at the system. His tablet immediately displayed the CAD model of the system with the circulation pump highlighted in red. He tapped the assembly and was then shown step-by-step in the mobile documentation how to access the pump, how to remove it, and how to reinstall it. So, that’s one thing done. The system is running. But your Chinese colleague was unable to adjust two minor special functions in the software since the last firmware update... so he opened a telemaintenance ticket for today at 11:30 a.m.
You, the service manager, start your telemaintenance desktop client at 11:30, and in a few seconds you are connected to your young colleague in Hong Kong. You both have the same view of the system as provided by the camera integrated into a pair of data glasses. You use your digital pen to circle the special function on the HMI that requires adjustment on your colleague’s data glasses, give him two hints and a suggestions via Voice over IP (VoIP), and the system is running perfectly again after fifteen minutes. You say goodbye to your colleague and exit the telemaintenance session. A glance at the clock shows it is 11:45 a.m., time to go and have lunch in the canteen. Your colleagues are already waiting in the corridor.
The afternoon is fairly quiet and things go as planned.
Monday, 4:00 p.m. – KVP service meeting with the Managing Director Dr Meyer
“Dr Meyer, I cannot thank you enough. Two years ago you and the documentation manager decided that we should provide our content to users in the field with our XML editorial system in a modern way. That was the right decision. We have transformed our documentation department from a cost centre into a profit centre.
Service deployments have been falling for two years, our customers have dramatically fewer system downtimes, and customer satisfaction has increased by 70% since the last Marketing survey.
Instead of writing dozens of folders of documentation, we have instead broken the information down into small easy-to-comprehend chunks (topics). These have been designed to answer exactly one user question and therefore resolve exactly one problem. No matter whether our service technicians are online or offline, and no matter which mobile device they use: they always have exactly the right information to help them do their work efficiently, quickly and effectively. So we can be sure that our people complete their task within a single operation, and the system works again. That lowers service costs and satisfies our customers. And at the same time the paper documentation required by the standards 'tumbles' out of the Content Management System.
Dr Meyer, we have managed to implement Service 4.0 successfully in a user-focussed way, and we have thereby generated a considerable competitive advantage for our customer.
Any young person would say: 'Service 4.0 is cool', but experienced middle-aged managers with slightly greying temples say: 'Service 4.0 is sexy' ;-)”
A relaxed working Monday at the service department draws to a close...
You can find the full video of the “IN22 expert lecture – mechanical engineering in 2025” (presented at tekom) in the protected section of our smart space information portal (go here to register).