Green Field Service: Eliminate Onsite Visits and Cut Fleet Mileage

Last Fall in preparation for the Recognized Innovator Awards: Green Edition I blogged about Green Service and Support.  I hosted a panel discussion on the topic at our Vegas conference, and have had some very supportive comments and emails from members of all three associations (AFSMI, SSPA and TPSA) about my coverage of the topic.

This week I am publishing follow-up reports for AFSMI and SSPA on going Green. Even the current economic recession is unable to slow the adoption of Green practices: not only does going Green reduce the corporate carbon footprint, it offers significant cost savings as well. I call Green Service and Support a win-win-win proposal: Green Service reduces the corporate carbon footprint, increases service levels to customers, and cuts operating costs.

In the new report, I provide two Green examples in the field service realm. The first is about eliminating field service visits. In a recent AFSMI member poll, 44% of respondents said it cost more than $550 to ‘roll a truck’ for a field service repair. With costs this high, the ROI story for technology to eliminate field service visits can be very compelling.  From a Green standpoint, eliminating onsite visits keeps vehicles off the road, reducing traffic congestion and related pollutants.

An example of leveraging technology to reduce onsite visits comes from Allscripts, a leader in software, services, information and connectivity solutions for healthcare professionals. Allscripts customers include 150,000+ physicians, 700 hospitals and thousands of providers in clinics, post-acute care facilities, and homecare agencies. The healthcare and medical device industry has several unique challenges, including severe health impacts when critical medical technology is offline, and few onsite customer resources to assist with issue diagnosis: when Code Blue is called, physicians and nurses don’t stay on the phone with a TSE. As a result, Allscripts’ support issues had a high rate of onsite service to resolve.

To address this issue, Allscripts implemented proactive support technology from NextNine to detect and stop problems before onsite assistance is required. The impact was clear: Allscripts reduced support incidents by 25%, and dramatically lowered deployment and installation times for software service updates. Field service visits were impacted as well: 50 incidents of downtime were prevented in the first 90 days of deployment, and the number of avoided issues is expected to increase dramatically as the implementation matures.

The other area is optimizing field service schedules with real-time scheduling. Not only does real-time scheduling increase field tech productivity and lower the average cost per visit, it also reduces gas consumption for the field fleet, further minimizing traffic congestion and related pollution.

A great example of cutting fleet costs and emissions comes from Norway based TOMRA, whose North American operation services 13,000 reverse vending machines (RVMs) in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Maine, and Iowa. TOMRA’s patented recognition technology provides video surveillance of inserted items, ensuring correct deposit refunds and protection against fraud, creating the market’s fastest return process for customers. Customer response to the program has been strong, with RVMs receiving a great deal of use. But as may be expected, with direct use by the public, and some messy possibilities with partially full cans and bottles, field service costs were high. TOMRA looked to field service optimization to reduce costs of the operation.

After implementing real-time scheduling from ClickSoftware, TOMRA’s field service operation saw some impressive results. There was a 25% improvement in response time; a 12% reduction in fleet mileage the first year, with continuing reductions of 5-6% in subsequent years; a 12% increase in machines serviced per technician along with a 12% increase in service calls handled per day. Not only was there an environmental impact by cutting fleet mileage, but there were business impacts as well: TOMRA reduced the number of technicians needed from 75 to 65, with no reduction in the number of machines serviced.

Neither of these companies were primarily focused on Green–they were trying to cut costs.  But in these lean times, companies need to look at all impacts of projects–including Green impacts.   If you spell out Green ramifications of any planned project, it may help to gain internal approval for the project.  And, be sure to brag about Green successes. Add a session at your next user conference on Green Service and Support and be sure to mention Green efforts in recruiting efforts and new hire training, which may help seal the deal with Generation Y candidates.

If your company is looking at the Green impacts of Service and Support, I’d love to hear your story. Add a comment or shoot me an email; I will reply to all. And thanks for reading!

Explore posts in the same categories: Best Practices, field service, Technology

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2 Comments on “Green Field Service: Eliminate Onsite Visits and Cut Fleet Mileage”

  1. Daniel polonsky Says:

    I sure like this green trend.
    Maybe we can make nice revenues and still breathe clean air. Let’s just hope more will follow.

  2. Smart service Says:

    It’s a great post and well researched.


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