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How biotech firm Luminex manages field service

Technicians at Luminex work remotely, but their schedules, spare parts for repairs and customer site visits need to link to tech support and the CRM

Luminex, the US-based medical test equipment provider, has used ServiceMax since 2013 to support field service engineers. Among the machines it provides to the healthcare sector is Aries Sars-CoV-2 Assay, which is used for coronavirus lab tests.

When it started on its journey to manage its field service workforce, the company wanted a way to create more interdepartmental visibility, especially between sales and service. The commercial teams did not have a view of scheduled and completed service activity and the service teams did not have an effective way to communicate new opportunities to sales.

At the time Luminex had recently begun using Salesforce, and saw an opportunity to capture each customer interaction, from the service history to order and shipping history to what entitlements they carried. This marked the start of Luminex’s digital journey, as Steve Nava, senior director for global field service at Luminex, explains.

“We began in 2013, to eliminate paper and enter the digital  world, using ServiceMax to record service inventory control,” he says. ServiceMax also enabled Luminex to manage asset tracking across its installed base of customers. When combined with the Chatter functionality in Salesforce, he says Luminex was able to log issues associated with customers’ devices.

As well as integration with Salesforce, Luminex has also integrated ServiceMax with its ERP system. Nava says that when a customer issue is logged in the tech support centre, a record is created, which details the customer’s problem and the serial number of the equipment experiencing the issue.

He says the call is then dispatched in an automated fashion, where ServiceMax finds the right engineer based on skillset and the engineer’s vicinity in respect to the customer site. “ServiceMax determines who gets an alert and puts update on Chatter, so everyone is aware of the work order and can then coordinate and schedule a site visit with the customer.”

When designing the ServiceMax system, Nava says Luminex worked closely with its field service engineers. “There were numerous things from my own days in the field that I thought would work in the solution, but the engineers asked for changes because they knew those parts of the operation better than I did.” 

Documenting and managing work

Every action in the field, integrates with the CRM and ERP system. “Data flows upstream, for billing or entitlement, and invoices are sent out,” says Nava.

After building out all their requirements, Luminex deployed iPads to all its engineers. The mobile device allows technicians to update service level agreements and project estimates on or offline, as well as access the company’s knowledge base, to help them research equipment questions.

“Access to service history, entitlements, SLA status, and dashboards has helped engineers make the most out of their days,” he says. “The techs simply break out their iPad, conduct their business, debrief, and capture the signature. The customer receives an immediate report that details cost, so they can see what that service is costing them.”

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All onsite customer work is documented in ServiceMax. The system lists parts used to fix the problem, labour time and travel costs. The technician’s iPad is also used for the customer to sign off the work. All of this information is then uploaded directly into Luminex’s systems.

He says the system has made technicians more productive as they can handle more customers a day.

Documentation and dispatch is all handled by the system. “They don’t have to do admin duties as they are all done in real time,” says Nava.

IoT and usage-based billing

Nava says some of Luminex’s equipment supports remote monitoring and service, which means there is less need for field service engineers to make site visits, which saves time and money, but, he adds: “At some point there is a human involved and so we will use ServiceMax to support the customer.”

While the internet of things means companies can collect vast amounts of data from equipment at customer sites, Nava says: “Big data is only good if you can optimise service. But that is the harder part.” This is because the service operations is regarded in most organisations as a cost centre. So there is generally limited scope to invest in building it out to take advantage of the greater level of metrics the company can obtain through the internet of things. 

Nevertheless, Nava believes that going forward, ServiceMax provides a foundation on which businesses like Luminex can build out pay per use services, where a highly efficient field service function has a direct link to the revenue potential of the service.

Read more on Customer relationship management (CRM)

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