Topcon, a leading manufacturer of optical equipment and precision measurement systems and technologies, wanted to turn its service delivery into a profit center. But first, the Japan-based company had to figure out how to more efficiently manage a complicated patchwork of systems for tracking customer requests, warranties and other processes.

“In the past, our teams used a paper-based system to input data into CRM and service management systems scattered across the enterprise,” says Yuichi Yamauchi, senior manager of research and development in the engineering support department at Topcon. “As a result, it was difficult to pull information in a timely fashion.”

The company has produced surveying equipment since its 1932 founding, and after WWII it advanced into the field of ophthalmological equipment, which remains Topcon’s core business. The company has expanded those operations worldwide through M&A and alliances, and has also developed construction machinery control technology, precision GPS receivers, precision agriculture, and mobile control technology.

Topcon’s ophthalmology devices are used for examinations, diagnosis and treatment, as well as for refraction and eyeglass lens processing at thousands of locations, including clinics, hospitals, and eyewear retail stores all over Japan.

“In our eye care business alone, we employ about 40 service technicians throughout Japan,” Yamauchi says. “Until recently, we used a variety of systems to track service requests.”

Eyeing a More Agile Service Operation

In the past, Topcon technicians would travel to eye care customers such as optometry clinics and retail eyeglass outlets to compile reports and service requests by hand. Service techs would then travel back to their service centers and laboriously enter their handwritten notes into Topcon’s service management system.

But with thousands of devices to service and thousands of warranties to manage throughout Japan, relying on a variety of different service management systems wasn’t sustainable. It impacted technicians’ responsiveness and productivity, and it also made it more difficult for the company to track repairs and warranty coverage and to determine the status of devices being serviced, Yamauchi says.

On top of all that, as devices sent back for service traveled along stops during the servicing process, the team—from field service to service company or manufacturing company—would spend time entering or retrieving information. All the while, Topcon had to demonstrate compliance with stringent medical device regulations in order to keep track of when and how devices were serviced.

Yuichi Yamauchi, Topcon

“If we have to deal with a variety of systems, it’s not only a loss in terms of time, it also adds additional costs to our process,” Yamauchi says. “We needed not only a field service management solution for our eye care business in Japan, but one we could scale across our global businesses as well.”

In 2015, the company decided to standardize its Japanese service operation with ServiceMax, a decision that has helped Topcon improve its service delivery.

“We’ve been able to improve our service lead time by 39 percent,” Yamauchi says. “Topcon’s American operations reported a 10 percent increase in service revenue.”

Every aspect of service delivery can now be tracked by just one service management system, Yamauchi says.

“With ServiceMax, it’s easier to track warranties and devices that have been sent back for service,” he explains. “All interactions and requests are kept on record in one single place, as well as how they were followed up. It’s now possible for us to easily share all of this information with everyone on the team.”

Early Successes Fuel Future Expansion Plans

As Topcon continues to expand around the world, the next task for Yamauchi and his team is to determine the best way to incorporate ServiceMax into the company’s worldwide operations.

“We need to help increase efficiency and productivity of our distributors,” says Yamauchi. “For example, we’d like to know what’s going on in Europe as soon as possible, but there are differences in service procedures from region to region that make sharing information hard.”

ServiceMax, he says, helps reconcile these difference to ensure that everything related to service delivery is tracked within Topcon’s global service management system.

The goal is continued global growth, Yamauchi says, and by improving the responsiveness, productivity and profitability of service delivery, ServiceMax is helping Topcon do just that.

Images courtesy of Topcon

ABOUT Nevin Thompson

Nevin Thompson is a journalist, copywriter and a content strategist who works in a variety of different verticals.