At last week's Field Service Medical 2012 Conference, discussions centered on how medical device manufacturers could accomplish two apparently conflicting goals: 1) improve the quality and speed of service; 2) reduce the cost of customer support and tech pubs. These topics were repeated throughout the conference, which was well-attended by over a hundred representatives from leading medical device manufacturers across North America.
One recurring issue was the need to provide service technicians with the right documentation, at the point of service, so they can quickly repair equipment. Technicians spend too much time searching through paper catalogs, manuals and multiple databases to find answers to their service and parts questions.
Attendees told us that internet portal solutions haven't solved the problem because, even here, information is often out-of-date or requires special knowledge about how to use a content management system. Furthermore, for security reasons many customers block service technicians from accessing the internet while they're onsite. As a result, before going on a service call engineers will copy data and documents to their laptop and hope they picked the right information to perform a repair. But many times technicans overlook some document or bulletin that turns out to be important. In those situations the technician must call the OEM hot line (support center) to figure out what needs to be done, how to do it and what parts are required. This delays the repair and increases the burden on customer support (as well as downtime for the customer’s equipment).
OEMs are looking for a better way. Until they can consistently deliver accurate parts and service information to field engineers and technicians they know they'll be at a disadvantage. On the other hand, if they can give technicians a mobile technical library 1) they will provide better, faster service and 2) decrease the number of inbound calls to the hotline.
Toshiba America Medical Systems (TAMS) addressed this problem by implementing Enigma InService EPC, allowing field engineers to work onsite, without a network connection, and still access a complete bill of materials, troubleshoot a problem, and locate relevant, up-to-date service manuals and spare parts. Once these engineers connect with Toshiba’s ERP system they can complete any parts orders and deliver valuable feedback to the engineering department for ongoing improvement of products and support materials. As a result, TAMS service technicians perform with greater efficiency and productivity.
Enigma has always believed that the key to improving customer support, reducing repair time (MTTR) and improving quality (FTFR) is to ensure service technicians have a complete and accurate technical library of parts and service information—all the time, online or offline. Furthermore, OEMs must be able to update that data whenever it changes and keep it safe from prying eyes in a highly competitive environment. Enigma has the software tools and the experience to dramatically improve field service operations.
The attendees at Field Service Medical 2012 were extremely focused on the goal of increasing field service productivity and efficiency. We look forward to helping more field service organizations, such as TAMS, deliver on these goals.