Excell Refrigeration found its niche with supermarkets and other commercial enterprises, installing and servicing large refrigeration systems. Recently, the company was faced with adding a person in its office to handle its growing business. Doing so would represent a 25% increase in the company's non-revenue-generating workforce.
Excell President Glenn Taylor and Service Manager Mike Driscoll began developing a strategy to become more efficient. After confirming that their back office software included mobile capabilities, they researched devices for a mobile initiative. They were convinced that rugged devices were the way to go. According to Taylor, "Refrigeration repair technicians need rugged devices that can withstand abuse."
Excell chose the Recon handheld from Tripod Data Systems (TDS) because it offered the necessary ruggedness in a compact footprint. To allow technicians to receive their work orders wirelessly, Excell added GPRS (general packet radio service) using one of the Recon handheld's two CompactFlash slots.
Also chosen was the Printek MtP400 mobile thermal printer. "Not only has the printer been dropped from 4 feet up, it rolled 6 feet after the fall," says Driscoll. "Accidents happen, but these devices keep on working despite them." The MtP400's print format and font capabilities were also key selling points. "Our previous field documentation was full-page format," Driscoll explains. "The 80-column format on 4-inch paper allowed us to just shrink down our old forms without major changes."
Excell's technicians like the new setup for its ease of use and efficiency. Choosing from dropdown menus, they can quickly enter the parts they use. At the end of the call, the work completed is recorded and a receipt is printed. "We're a time-and-material business," says Driscoll. "We need the flexibility to print receipts for our customers that accurately reflect the work done. This speeds billing by automating the captured information and speeds payment by reducing questions and exceptions."
Driscoll cites an ROI figure of one to one and a half years. No matter what the payoff, Driscoll and Taylor are happy that they achieved their goals and had a fast and easy rollout. "We picked two of our more computer-savvy techs to test the solution at first," says Driscoll. "Once the bugs were worked out, we rolled it out to 12 field techs. Even those who are not avid computer users have found it easy to use and beneficial." And as a final benefit, Excell did not have to hire an additional administrative employee.