As field service tools become increasingly Internet based connectivity becomes an ever more significant challenge. We look at how Volvo Construction overcame their connectivity woes...
Volvo Construction Equipment was established in Great Britain in 1967. A division of the Volvo Group, it has established a reputation for market leading quality equipment and customer support.
A supplier to the mining and construction industries, Volvo provides an extensive range of equipment including wheeled loaders, articulated haulers, excavators, utility equipment and pavers.
The business operates eight customer support centres throughout Great Britain, supplemented by strategically located home-based engineers. Its headquarters are located in Duxford, Cambridgeshire.
Volvo Construction Equipment’s team of field engineers travel across the UK each day responding to customer queries – from initial fault diagnosis to servicing and updating equipment. These engineers are largely dependent upon access to internet-based tools, hosted on the company’s network, for diagnosis and configuration purposes. Yet visits can often take place in remote or inaccessible areas of the country with poor mobile signal.
Previously, engineers were provided with a single-network USB dongle that could be plugged into laptops for network access
Without access to the internet, engineers were often forced to return to the nearest depot – which could be up to 60 miles away – or in some cases, seek out a local café or restaurant offering free Wi-Fi.
This inability to complete the job on the first visit was also frustrating for customers unable to progress a project due to a broken down machine.
Richard Shelford, IT Operations Manager at Volvo Construction Equipment, said: ‘‘Engineers would often arrive at a job and carry out the initial diagnosis only to find that the network signal was too weak. From a customer-service perspective this was really tricky, as they would be forced to abandon a job and drive off to seek Wi-Fi access somewhere else.”
He added: “This process was proving hugely costly for us in both time and mileage but also for our customer whose downtime costs can run into tens of thousands of pounds.”
Volvo Construction Equipment was recommended to contact M2M Intelligence to see if they could suggest a more efficient way to operate.
M2M was able to supply a Multinet roaming 3G SIM which enabled field engineers to create a local hotspot with a Wi-Fi router in their van. The M2M-i Multinet SIM enables the router to connect with any available UK network so Volvo engineers are no longer reliant on a single provider’s ability to supply a constant signal in all areas of the country.
Volvo was able to vastly improve its customer service by eliminating wasted site visits and reducing equipment down-time.
A trial across eight vehicles was tested by senior engineers, with extensive experience of the industry - including first-hand knowledge of some of the challenges that the business was facing. Following a successful trial, the solution was quickly rolled out across the Volvo Field Service team.
Volvo was able to vastly improve its customer service by eliminating wasted site visits and reducing equipment down-time. This has also had a number of additional benefits in regards to productivity, cost savings, employee satisfaction and internal communications.
M2M’s Multinet roaming SIMs have ensured field engineers are connected virtually anywhere. This has had a major impact on productivity as engineers are now able to increase the average number of campaign updates, including diagnosis or configuration, each day.
The solution has also driven significant cost-savings for the business – both in terms of vehicle expense and staff time. Field engineers no longer have to drive back to the depot or a local restaurant to gain Wi-Fi access – and are operating more efficiently as a result.
Employee satisfaction rose
Increased productivity has removed many of the frustrations experienced by field engineers. Rather than facing obstacles around limited network signal or the associated stresses of having to find a nearby location with access, they can focus on the task in hand. This means delivering a speedier service to customers and getting equipment and projects back up and running as soon as possible.
Better internal communications
The business has also seen an improvement in internal communications. Staff can use internet-enabled video conferencing more frequently to communicate with product specialists and between different depots. This is allowing field engineers to tap into company resources – and quickly.
The company now has plans to continue a phased roll-out across the wider business, including product specialists and sales teams.
‘‘Almost immediately after trialling M2M’s solution, we knew we had to have it!’’ said Richard. ‘‘Our engineers were previously carrying out approximately two campaign updates per day. Using M2M’s solution, they can double that - so to say it’s had a big impact on productivity would be an understatement! To quote one of our own engineers, ‘it’s simply brilliant’.’’