More than twelve years ago, Artic Building Services decided to incorporate Asolvi’s field service management product, Tesseract, into its core services and company operations. Since then the partnership between Artic and Asolvi has gone from strength to strength.
Founded in 1998, Artic specialises in providing engineering solutions for building services within the public and private sectors. The company provides heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical, plumbing and security systems, major refurbishment works and even gardening services. Its broad base of customers ranges from large, multiple-site hospitals and universities with residential engineers to small, single sites serviced by mobile teams.
Artic utilises the expertise of a vast workforce that includes field engineers, engineering managers, helpdesk operatives, accountants and secretaries. While it prides itself on a diverse human skill set, what makes the whole operation run smoothly and efficiently is its field service management system, Tesseract.
Artic is responsible for looking after a full range of mechanical and electrical assets in the buildings of more than two hundred clients in the UK. It performs preventative and reactive maintenance on air conditioning units, boilers, chillers and electrical, water and sanitation systems. Twelve years ago, before Asolvi came on board, Artic arranged and organised the attendance of its engineers manually.
“We wanted to be more efficient and develop with the ISO 9001 standards,” says Donna Peacock, operations manager for Artic. “We were seeking new clients, and certain companies wanted to know why we were better. They wanted to see it. Tesseract gave us the edge we needed to rise above our competitors.”
Clients would notify Artic of problems by phoning or emailing its office. Artic’s teams would then look at paper road maps and telephone the engineers, deploying them on the basis of who was closest and their skill level. Artic would log on to Tesseract’s browser-based web portal and record the callout. Numbers and timings generated by Tesseract would allow Artic to track and monitor the status of the job. But manual operations and copious paperwork were still big features of the way Artic managed its functions. For example, engineers would be required to fill out a field service report pad, which the client would have to sign. They had to record the site name, the time they got there, the time they left, the problem, whether the problem was resolved, any parts needed and their mileage. Another form would also be completed if further works were needed.
“At that stage, Tesseract helped us track what was going on with a job and created purchase orders,” says Donna Peacock. “We required more from the database. We needed to completely streamline our processes for the benefit of both our clients and our engineers. Tesseract has accommodated that need. Over the years Asolvi has moulded the product to fit our requirements.”
A revolutionary overhaul of Artic’s field processes came with the introduction of Tesseract’s Remote Engineer Access. Artic phased out the use of field service report pads and rolled out personal digital assistants (PDAs) to its engineers instead. PDAs allow engineers to log in remotely, view calls for dispatch, enter their service reports, raise parts requests and close completed jobs, among other functions. Engineers can also access Artic’s task list, namely the serialised products they are required to maintain. This is where Artic encountered its first hurdle with the initial PDA models that were supplied.
“Our engineers have problems with signal while working on their allocated jobs,” says Peacock. “This means they had trouble getting online to record the data they needed to on the old devices. We needed them to be able to work offline.”
So Asolvi developed a system that allowed Artic’s engineers to work offline, and a new, more advanced line of devices was rolled out. Now the engineers can work in completely signal-less areas and still log all their information, which is recorded onto the system as soon as signal is restored.
“Some of our engineers loved the PDAs,” says Peacock. “Some took a bit longer to adjust. But now 98% of our engineers use the devices, and they’ve been really successful. Engineers can now have a job completed, invoiced and closed down in the same day, when before, using the paper system, it would take a week. Sometimes a week and a half. The PDAs have made life at Artic so much easier and more efficient, which in turn means we’re able to better serve our clients.”
In addition, the ability to attach core Artic health, safety and industry compliance paperwork to a given job has reduced bureaucracy within the helpdesk. The process has given clients compliant, fluid and real-time data capture for their sites.
To save clients having to telephone Artic’s offices, Asolvi has implemented Tesseract’s Remote Customer Access portal. Now clients can log onto the Tesseract system and enter the fault – be it a broken tap, a malfunctioning air conditioning unit or a toilet that won’t flush. They are able to track their own calls and monitor whether Artic are meeting their time limits by way of a ‘traffic light’ system. This saves time both for Artic’s clients and Artic itself.
Further integration of the Tesseract product now allows Artic to use satellite navigation to deploy its engineers. This means they are able to identify traffic issues and warn their engineers accordingly, which was impossible when they relied on paper maps.
Artic also uses Tesseract’s Customer Assets and Parts Centre modules to monitor and maintain its clients’ assets and generate purchase orders for parts. The company uses Tesseract’s Quote Centre to log quotes for potential new clients, enter client data and convert accepted quotes into new contracts, which are also managed through Tesseract.
Finally, Artic has developed a number of different reports within Tesseract. These help Artic with auditing and reporting to the board on key commercial orders such as invoicing, sales, quoted further works, budgets, profit and loss, outstanding calls and new sales prospects.
As Artic is a service company, its driving force – and the key to its success – is to keep improving the way it operates. Currently Artic is looking into several features it would like to incorporate into its operations. These include automated email reports to clients when jobs are complete and to managers so they know which jobs are outstanding. Artic is also looking to make some tweaks to its task and asset lists, and introduce a system for tracking and monitoring its fleet of vehicles.
“At present we are maintaining our vehicles by looking at a spreadsheet,” says Peacock. “We’d like to streamline this. We’d like to make sure all our vehicles are serviced, safe and up to spec through a live system instead. It’s one of the many things we’re looking into to make our processes even better than they are.”
Over the past twelve years, Artic has come to rely quite heavily on Tesseract and its processes, output and customer service have continued to develop and improve as a result. “The Tesseract system is not the only computerised service management system we have in place,” says Peacock. “But it is the hub of all our systems. We call it the ‘Alpha’.”
Tesseract has now been a part of Artic for so long that Asolvi refers new customers to Artic so they can see the entire system at work. Peacock says, “We will happily give them a demonstration. Show them why Asolvi is such an invaluable aid to any service company’s operations.”