K2 was a Silver Sponsor at the 2017 AHAM (Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers) annual meeting, April 30 – May 2 in Washington D.C. AHAM is celebrating its 50th year as a trade organization, representing an industry that has grown to $33B in value.It was particularly interesting to note that many manufacturers are studying how to best provide safe and secure connectivity for their appliances – in order to increase customer satisfaction, anticipate failures and reduce truck rolls. The Supplier Interest Group – which monitors appliance shipments for the U.S. and Canada – now plans to track connected devices on an annual basis. K2 is a thought leader in this area and is in the process of deploying connectivity on a variety of appliances. Multiple skills are required to provide useful information from a connected device, including networking, security, and data analytics. K2 plans to contribute to the AHAM connectivity knowledge base and will continue to work with interested manufacturers to enable useful connectivity solutions.
Many appliance manufacturers are now saying they are “working on connectivity” or that they have developed an in-house solution. There is no doubt manufacturers are making progress with connectivity, but it is a complex , multi-dimensional task that is neither well understood or properly resourced. True connectivity should meet the “three legged stool” test and include these criteria:
Leg 1: Appliance elements that are included in the home device:
Bluetooth connectivity – to enable sensors to send information to the onboard Wifi hub.
Wifi connectivity – transmits data from multiple sensors to the appliance “cloud” via an internet router.
Networking – controls what is sent to the cloud the security of that data and the safety constraints that have been programmed (water on/off, burner on/off, and so on).
Leg 2: Corporate elements to guide the diagnosis and resolution:
Knowledge base – consists of user manuals, service data, and customer information that are integrated with the appliance data to reduce time to resolution.
Engineering data – consists of more detailed technical information that is also integrated with appliance data to identify and correct specific problem areasCSRs – essential to customer satisfaction is prompt recognition of a customer, their service history and an artificial intelligence based set of questions to identify the source of trouble and dispatch appropriate resources.
Field techs – are equipped with diagnostic and customer information, which they use to requisition appropriate parts before departing their depot. Armed with this information, they will measurably reduce the cost of spare parts inventory and the number of truck rolls required to satisfy the customer.
Leg 3: Cloud elements that manage the appliance data:
Predictive analysis – uses algorithms to indicate current or pending service issues.
Communication – collects and consolidates information from large numbers of devices to determine probabilities of failure.
Decision trees – are created from field data and knowledge bases to guide system interrogation and customer interviews – with the objective of minimizing mean time to diagnosis.