Magazine Article | July 13, 2007

Mobile Delivery Solution Saves Manufacturer $500,000 Per Year

Source: Field Technologies Magazine
Integrated Solutions, July 2007

Applied Biosystems is an Applera Corp. business based in Foster City, CA. Pharmaceutical companies, healthcare organizations, and research labs worldwide depend on Applied Biosystems instrument systems and services to do their work. The company has an install base of approximately 180,000 products in nearly 100 countries. To service these systems, Applied Biosystems employs field service engineers who provide service installations, repairs, upgrades, planned maintenance, and other requests from customers. These engineers respond to several service calls per week, with some SLAs (service level agreements) requiring rapid response.

The majority of Applied Biosystems' engineers were equipped with mobile phones and notified of service calls via voicemail, manually typed e-mail messages, or short message service (SMS) one-way. This process was time-consuming to dispatchers and added to the time it took for engineers to attend to customers. Additionally, since this was a manual process, there was no detailed tracking of dispatch message status, escalation process, or ability for the field tech to confirm message receipt. Each service event required multiple calls from the dispatcher to the service engineer and vice versa.

Applied Biosystems realized it needed to remedy this situation and looked for a wireless automated dispatch and response system to streamline the service process. After considering a number of choices, it eventually chose the Antenna Software A3 Messaging Service on mobile phones. "Some key factors in our decision to select Antenna's messaging service were the availability of real-time status monitoring, guaranteed domestic and international message delivery, call handling escalation, and project management vendor support," says Sarah Mertz, business analyst at Applied Biosystems. The new messaging solution leveraged existing internal applications and resources that include the SAP service module foundation and business process development. Antenna's product was integrated to provide an end-to-end managed solution.

Applied Biosystems began its rollout with a pilot program, after which the solution was rolled out to all of its engineers. In each country, the company had to work with the different cellular carriers to ensure they could support two-way messaging and foreign characters. Currently, the A3 Messaging Service is deployed in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia.

With the messaging solution in place, engineers automatically receive text messages containing all the relevant information needed to contact the customer when a service order is released. There is an automated escalation process in place so appropriate action can be taken automatically if an engineer doesn't respond to a call within the designated time frame. Now Applied Biosystems can monitor the entire dispatch process in real time.