PTC: Providing Proactive Support with Intelligent Smart Services
“For us to maintain low costs and high customer satisfaction while providing improved response times, we need a better, faster way to resolve issues beyond dispatching onsite technicians,” explains Mark Hessinger, Executive Director of Worldwide Service at Gerber Scientific. Gerber faces a continuous need to train new personnel as they are brought into the service organization. A change in strategy for service allows Gerber to build a stronger technical support organization and a more efficient process to bring new field service engineers up to speed. “We have a lot of tenured employees in North America and Europe,” observes Hessinger. “In seven years, the loss of man years will accelerate, so we need to retain product knowledge before it becomes a greater issue and impacts our customers.” Hessinger and his team realized that they needed a solution to remotely connect to their products and identify, diagnose, and resolve issues. Ideally this would happen before their customers even become aware of a problem, reducing the dispatch of onsite technicians or improving first-time fix rates when onsite visits are required. By collecting data from their products deployed in production, the company could begin addressing the aging workforce issue by capturing and retaining information. Collecting information on consumables and parts could automate consumable resupply, optimize spare parts inventory, and enable Gerber to provide true preventive maintenance. “We do not have mean time between failure data because we don’t know how many hours our customers are actually using our products,” says Hessinger. “Some customers use our products a few hours a day, while others use them 24/7. Obtaining actual usage data will help us better plan our spare parts and the consumables required for run times.” Other capabilities identified to help build a business case for their initiative included minimizing product downtime, automating software patch distribution, offering value-added services, providing engineering with product usage data, and delivering remote training on product capabilities for distributors and new technicians.
PTC: Reducing Mean Time to Repair by 50 Percent with SmartConnect
Varian has a variety of medical instruments and cancer treatment systems that support today’s leading-edge treatment modalities with Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT). These treatment systems are deployed at more than 1,000 hospitals and clinics worldwide. Traditionally, system and equipment problems have required one or more service technicians to diagnose and resolve issues at the hospital site, resulting in higher costs and lost patient treatment time. For a typical treatment device, the loss of one day’s treatment time can result in 35 patients missing their treatments, which is something hospitals and patients cannot afford. Problem resolution can be complicated if incorrect or incomplete information has been provided by the operator, and also in cases where the problem cannot be recreated once the technician is on site. Operators of the Varian Acuity™ imaging system, an integrated simulator and verification tool for testing patient treatment plans, occasionally require expert assistance. Image quality optimization, solving operational problems, and tuning system performance can cost time and money for Varian and their customers.
PTC: Reducing Unscheduled Downtime and Customer Efficiency
Leica Microsystems attributes its success to providing innovative products and superior customer service. To extend its leadership position, the company began exploring a more proactive service approach for its line of confocal microscopes and tissue processors. The Leica Microsystems project team began searching for a global software that would allow for the shift from a reactive to proactive service company. Their initiative focused on downtime avoidance and the prediction of potential problems across the globe, targeting issue prevention. As a result, customers would not only benefit from minimal product downtime, but from faster service and increased productivity. To obtain approval and funding for the initiative, the team would need to prove to management that this service strategy shift would result in optimized instrument uptime and reduced costs of service.
PTC: Improving Instrument Recovery Time and Reducing Downtime
While in the midst of developing SYMPHONY®, a fully automated slide staining system for standard Hematoxylin and Eosin (H&E) staining, Ventana realized that they required a remote service solution to ensure that customers received an exceptional level of service. However, with a tight timeline to develop and launch this new product, there was some reluctance to integrate additional software. “There was some internal reluctance toward implementing the remote service technology with our SYMPHONY instrument given the short timeframe,” explains Greg Dameron, Director of Development at Ventana. “In fact, the executive team informed me that if the software would delay the SYMPHONY launch by even one day, then we would not implement it at all.” The company began evaluating commercial remote service offerings, seeking a solution that would provide value to customers without disrupting system stability. “Our products are based on stability, so we needed the remote service technology to be stable as well,” says Dameron. Ventana sought to reduce instrument downtime to fewer than 24 hours by remotely monitoring all field instrumentation on a 24/7 basis. This would enable the abilities to remotely diagnose and repair issues, provide “over-the-shoulder” troubleshooting and training for users, and track inventory to automatically replenish reagents in real time. “We felt strongly that delivering remote service would help us achieve a response time that we could not otherwise meet,” says Dave Flaten, Vice President and General Manager of the Primary Staining business unit at Ventana. “We believed that it would become an integral part of the product line.”
PTC: Maximizing Clinical Availability and Performance with System Connectivity
For over 30 years Elekta has been responsible for introducing many market leading, critical technological advances in radiation oncology. Elekta’s Linear Accelerators support a range of pre-configured and optional delivery techniques, providing the physician with the flexibility to tailor the treatment to suit the needs of each individual patient. Remote access was unavailable on complex devices and Elekta was unable to understand machine performance based on real data, which meant the company could not respond immediately to customer problems. This, in turn, meant that Elekta was unable to detect and solve problems on the spot, restricting the company to a reactive service model. A typical patient treatment schedule could require daily treatment for a period of 4-6 weeks, making machine uptime extremely important. Given the complexity of the device and the amount of data that would need to be collected, it was obvious that an automated solution was required. The infrastructure would need the ability to manage the data volume from the devices and also provide a platform that would scale in both size and complexity. “When a customer buys a service agreement, what they are buying is system uptime. They are buying the ability to consistently deliver treatment… patient to patient,” says Martin Gilday, Vice President of Services at Elekta. “Service is not simply a single engineer with a trunk load of parts, but a full portfolio of technical expertise delivered via multiple’s a big change in the way that you think about service.” Elekta’s success has been built upon innovative engineering, which led to a culture of in-house work. As the company matured and grew, it realized that this was not necessarily the most effective way of working. With the complexity of the product itself, internal engineering expertise would be crucial to solve the company’s service challenges. While the product itself was unique, the methodologies and best practices of accessing and servicing the product were based on industry standards. When customers have service issues that need to be resolved, machine data must be collected and interpreted, and engineers need a deep level of skills and understanding. An integrated solution that brought the data, knowledge, and skills together in a highly connected environment was required. “Customers see connectivity as providing efficiency gains,” says Bruce Fullerton, Vice President of Service and Support. “Their key performance indicators are based around how many customers they can treat in a given space of time.”
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