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Field engineer productivity has improved by about 10% and dispatcher efficiency by around 20%, said Swisscom which is Switzerland's biggest telco.
The old scheduling system worked out travel times simply based on straight line distances between one job and another. As a result, accurate scheduling depended on local knowledge of the terrain, said Urs Basler, Swisscom's senior project manager.
Swisscom wanted to reduce that dependency and also took the opportunity to standardise and automate much of the work order and scheduling process across four business units, all of which used different information systems ranging from paper to laptop PCs.
Swisscom worked with software firm LogObject, service provider mobit, and Motorola. Swisscom trialled the mLogistics package on mobile computers from HTC, BenQ, Nokia, Hewlett-Packard, and Sony Ericsson before settling on the Motorola MC70 with GPRS/EDGE, but without Wlan capabilities.
All helpline calls go first to a call centre which tries to resolve them. If that is not possible, field engineers receive information about their job schedules, the materials needed and the problem itself, as well as whatthe call centre has already done on the MC70s in real-time.
The MC70s allow the engineers to time-stamp when they arrive at a customer site, start and finish a job. This information is sent back to Swisscom to aid scheduling for the rest of the day.
The mLogistics application learns from experience, said Basler. "The dispatchers do not need such a good understanding of geography and do not have to guess how long it will take engineers to travel from one location to another.
"We also now have much more information about where our engineers are, which job they are working on, and can provide them with much more information about the job. This is improving efficiency and productivity, and as a net result, our customer relations," Basler said.