Just a quick look at your life can produce countless examples of how technology is streamlining processes and making life easier. Instead of buying stamps and envelopes to pay bills, you can now do it simply online. Instead of hiring someone to do your taxes, online programs can quickly do the job. Even the bulky phone book has been replaced by online search engines.
The same phenomenon is occurring in material handling service departments across the country: field service automation software is streamlining age-old processes and simplifying complicated operations.
Cutting Out the Middle Man
In most service departments, there is constant communication going on between field technicians and dispatchers. Techs are getting marching orders for their next call or reporting back to the dispatcher on their previous one. Field service automation programs streamline the process. Service technicians can view information on their next stop via their computer. They can also use the same program to report back to the office when a job is done. This allows distributors to cut down on the number of dispatchers. Two or three people can now do what used to require five.
This type of software also allows service technicians to log hours, parts, miscellaneous, and notes instantly to the work order. This means that they don’t have to spend non-billable time at the end of the day recreating what happened. It also means that invoices can be produced faster. Parts usage is noted in the system and removed from inventory. Similarly, if a technician needs to quickly locate a part, the software will show them the location of the closest warehouse that has the part in stock.
PM checklist and work orders become signed paperless electronic documents that can be automatically filed.
Keeping Tabs on the Customer
Recent innovations in field service automation are enabling technicians. Most of these programs offer a feature that allows a technician to quickly pull up a customer’s work order history. For instance, if a customer says that a technician did transmission work a month ago and now the transmission is broken again, the technician can quickly find out the validity of the claim. It eliminates the need to call the office and sift through records. The software also allows technicians to run credit checks on customers. That way they can avoid extending maintenance credit to a customer who isn’t keeping up with their equipment payments.
Much like the Internet has revolutionized banking, bill payment, the media and advertising, mobile field service automation is revolutionizing the way service departments operate.
|Meet the Author
Ron Rogers is president of EBS, a provider of computer solutions for equipment dealers and distributors in Houston, TX and on the Web at www.ebs-next.com.