Mobile & Tech

Remote Monitoring: Transform Your Service Operation

If you’re looking for a technology that can help you not only increase efficiency, but also set yourself apart from your competition, this is the article for you. What’s the technology? M2M (machine-to-machine). How can it be used to transform a service operation? CareFusion’s use of M2M-enabled remote monitoring provides a clear example for any company looking to take field service automation to the next level.

CareFusion is a $3.9 billion spin-off of Cardinal Health’s clinical and medical products business that manufactures and supports a variety of healthcare products, including infusion pumps, medication-dispensing technologies, ventilators, infection prevention products, and surgical instruments. In addition to the hardware CareFusion manufactures, the company develops software to run with many of its products. As CareFusion’s customer base grew to more than 25,000 customers worldwide, the company’s service organization of 1,500 field technicians struggled to keep up. Like many of your organizations, CareFusion’s model of service was to send a field technician on-site when a piece of equipment needed to be repaired or replaced or if a customer was having an issue with software. “As the business expanded, we had to hire more and more people to run around and do repairs,” says DennySimmons, manager, engineering program management at CareFusion. “We were constantly hiring to keep up with the service calls, and we knew we needed to find a more efficient way to handle the service.”

Avoid Unproductive Field Technician Trips

Further, while upholding SLAs (service level agreements) is likely important to all of you, CareFusion’s business is a little different because of the life-and-death nature of its equipment. The mission-critical nature of medical equipment leads to pressure in the industry to have near-perfect uptime and immediate problem resolution. As the business continued to grow, CareFusion began to experience issues in its call center. In 2004, its average call time was 45 minutes — 30 minutes in excess of the 15-minute benchmark. In addition to the lengthy call time, CareFusion ran into numerous instances where it was sending field technicians on-site to do jobs that could have been handled remotely. “Many of the issues the techs went on-site to fix were software-related, like attention notices or alarms that could be identified and resolved remotely — all things that didn’t require the expertise of a field tech to repair,” explains Mitch Henyan,director of engineering management at CareFusion.

Another issue CareFusion faced was the expense of sending field technicians on-site to install software on the equipment each time a new version was released — especially as the number of customer locations grew. “The software industry has changed over time — at one point,very few software patches were put out because they had to be manually loaded on-site,” explains Simmons. “As we’ve moved into the PC world, this has changed to the point where updates come out every month. We were feeling the need to evolve to be able to put out more updates, but feeling the pinch of how cost-prohibitive it was to do so manually.” To put that in perspective, at the point that CareFusion decided to seek a technology solution, it was costing the company up to $2 million each time a major software upgrade was released and needed to be installed at each customer location.

To read the rest of this article, including all the benefits remote service in the cloud can provide, head over to Field Technologies Online (subscription required).

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