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Service Engineering: New technology makes all the difference

HEFTY investment in state-of-the-art information technology has enabled Capital Cooling to provide unparalleled levels of customer service and speed of reaction.
Service Engineering: New technology makes all the difference
As one of the nation’s fastest growing providers of reactive service in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector, Capital Cooling has over 100 key maintenance contracts with household name clients and responsibility for nearly 20,000 premises in the convenience, forecourt, CTN, hospitality, food service, fast food, leisure and education sectors. Last year Capital Cooling handled some 50,000 service calls and the company’s growth shows no sign of waning.

Much of this success is attributed by managing director, Alister McLean, to its investment in IT: “The majority of our customers are storing, preparing and displaying perishable foodstuffs. In the event of equipment failure they want assurances that service and repairs are carried out quickly and efficiently to minimise the potential loss of goods and interruptions to normal trading,” he said

Fundamental to the company’s service organisation is its national service centre at Broxburn, five minutes from Edinburgh airport, which is home to 70 support staff.

Regional call teams receive service calls via telephone, fax and email 24 hours a day. All calls are logged onto the company’s service management system, enabling operators to monitor their status and provide real time progress reports. Speed and accuracy of communication between the service centre and field based service engineers is of paramount importance.

Handheld PDAs

To this end, part of the company’s investment in IT, totalling in excess of £500,000, has been to provide each of its 80 regional service engineers with hand held PDAs and vehicle satnav systems. The PDAs are PSION Teklogix Workabouts using the SiCLOPS service management software system.

Service requests are allocated to engineers by the call centre via the PDA, with details of customer, premises location, equipment type, priorities and fault symptoms. The call report also provides details of previous service history for the equipment, which may help with fault diagnostics. The tap screen PDA and user friendly, menu driven software provide engineers with an overview of workload and priority of commitments, allowing them to plan their working day to maximum efficiency.

The PDAs also provide email access for faster lines of communication and internet access, allowing remote interrogation of Capital Cooling’s website and other manufacturers’ websites for technical support information.

Once the service call has been completed, the engineer is able to file a report back to head office, to maintain up-to-the minute status reports and a precise job history.

Details of component stock used during a service call are also communicated, allowing replacement parts to be issued, via a courier service, to replenish van stock. This, in turn, creates the benefit of ensuring that vans are well stocked with the appropriate components to achieve a first-time fix, thus reducing the number of second calls. The totally paperless system also allows the customer to sign off the service call, on screen, closing the job immediately. The introduction of these IT initiatives has not only improved job allocation and speed of response, they have also significantly improved the accuracy of reporting.

Capital Cooling uses the data generated by the reporting process to provide its customers with prompt and precise activity reports on specific premises or for their entire estates. The company also uses the reports to monitor its own achievements against several key performance indicators to highlight areas where additional training or alternative procedures may further improve customer service. Capital Cooling’s investment in IT shows no sign of slowing; the PSION hand held PDAs incorporate a bar scanning facility. The company is in the process of introducing bar coding of all assets and components, which will be scanned by engineers in the field. Through the reporting structure this will further enhance the speed and efficiency of management information and provide automatic replenishment of van stock.

Embracing new technology

The man in the field does not always embrace the introduction of new technologies and working practices, aimed at improving customer service and company performance, but in this case, it would appear that everyone is a winner. Alex Borland, one of Capital Cooling’s engineers based in Berkshire, said: “This system makes the working day so much easier. Job allocation has become a simpler process and the information provided on each service visit is invaluable. Stock control is much simpler and communication via PDA has eliminated paperwork, freeing up the time available to get on with my job as a service engineer”

Capital Cooling 01506 859000

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