Lift maker buys 11,000 Microsoft handhelds for worldwide roll-out

Lift and escalator manufacturer Kone is deploying 11,000 Microsoft XDA Pocket PC phones to its field engineers. The move is one...

Lift and escalator manufacturer Kone is deploying 11,000 Microsoft XDA Pocket PC phones to its field engineers. The move is one of the largest roll-outs of Windows mobile devices in Europe.

Kone has begun rolling out the devices to more than 400 technicians in the UK and expects to have completed a global roll-out in two years.

The Helsinki-based firm has 25,000 staff worldwide and its UK customers include Heathrow Airport, hospitals and shopping centres. It installs 5,000 elevators a year and services 500,000 pieces of equipment, said Jim Haugsland, Kone's manager for global field mobility.

The initial deployment of Microsoft XDA and XDA II Pocket PC phones will be to 11,000 technicians, with plans to extend the roll-out to the sales force later.

The devices, which use pen input, allow technicians to receive general and emergency work orders and file details of completed jobs. "This was all previously done by voice over the mobile phone and on thousands of bits of paper. We are virtually eliminating paper," said Haugsland.

Kone said it would also save money by combining its support for mobiles and handhelds by standardising on a single device.

"We wanted to set a new standard of service delivery for our industry, enhance the safety of our people, and bring cost reductions and efficiency gains," said Haugsland.

Kone ran a trial with 360 field technicians in Finland between September and January. During the trial, a team of 10 users evaluated Microsoft devices against handhelds based on the Symbian operating system, and helped to make it easier for staff to access company information through software developed by TBS.

User benefits
By swapping mobiles for Pocket PCs, Kone's technicians can receive work orders and file completed jobs remotely. Kone can also track its elevator technicians in the field. In addition, the system meets customers' demands for real-time information on orders and fixes, which they can now obtain through an extranet.

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