State Cleaning Solutions – Field service optimisation

The challenge

  • Scheduling tech visits that vary from day to day, and can include emergency call-outs
  • Taking account of the different skill sets of a mixed group of technicians
  • Scheduling journeys that start near but not necessarily at technicians’ homes

We can setup all the operating parameters we need, and there are also special fields where we can record our techs’ skill sets and special abilities.

State Cleaning Solutions, a division of Ohio-based State Industrial Products, provides a range of cleaning, maintenance, and sanitization solutions to various industry sectors including schools, hospitals, hotels, and restaurants, using its own extensive range of chemical products.

press-state-industrial-truckstops-routing-scheduling1Its programs are supported by a team of field technicians, who cover 22 states with a fleet of Ford Econoline and Transit vans, serving thousands of customers. The techs visit customers for various reasons – to perform preventive maintenance, ensure the customer is experiencing superior results, to deliver product, and to respond to emergency.

Their visits may be planned weekly, monthly, bi-monthly or at other intervals, or arranged on an ad hoc basis when an unscheduled service call is received.

“Despite this complexity, in the past we adopted a very ‘vanilla’ approach to scheduling,” says division controller Fred Weimer. “We aimed to minimize the mileage traveled, but we didn’t optimise the routes in other ways. For instance, we weren’t taking account of rates, fuel consumption and so on.”

He was convinced that the company could make savings by streamlining the techs’ activities, but wanted to find a system that would take account of operational factors as well as journey efficiency – notably the skill sets of individual drivers.

The company also needed to be able to schedule journeys that started and ended near the technicians’ homes, not just at fixed depots.

The solution

  • The TRUCKSTOPS routing and scheduling optimisation system from Mapmechanics
  • Special fields in Truckstops that can record driver skills or other operating parameters
  • Support and backup from Mapmechanics

We found the Truckstops team very friendly and customer-focused. Dealing with them was a very pleasant experience, which we really enjoyed.

After evaluating four potential routing and scheduling optimisation systems, the company opted for Mapmechanics’ Truckstops. “We can set up all the operating parameters we need,” Fred Weimer says.

press-state-industrial-truckstops-routing-scheduling“Some techs are good at identifying additional chemical solutions to existing customers,” he says. “We wanted to allocate them to visits where that ability was most likely to pay off in terms of increased orders and customer satisfaction. Some are good at installing and at training new customers. Some have special skill sets appropriate to particular kinds of machinery – for instance, laundry equipment.”

“Truckstops meets this requirement because it has special fields where we can record our techs’ skill sets and special abilities.” State Cleaning Solutions has an agreement in place with its techs that they will travel up to 20 minutes on their own time before starting and after finishing their scheduled journeys – the equivalent of commuting for office workers – and needed to reflect this in the route plans.

Truckstops also fulfils this requirement, since it has the ability to schedule different start and finish points for each journey, adding flexibility to the use of home-based technicians.

The benefits

  • More efficient scheduling of technicians’ journeys
  • Ability to take account of individual techs’ skills and allocate them to appropriate visits
  • Provision to plan journeys that start and end near but not always at specific points
  • User-friendly product that can be implemented with minimal training
  • Good-value system bringing optimum return on investment

Truckstops has all the capabilities we need, even taking account of our special requirements. It’s also a very user-friendly product.

“Truckstops has all the capabilities we need, even taking account of our special requirements,” Fred Weimer says. “It’s also a very user-friendly product. We were able to get it working with minimal training.”

He says that Truckstops offered good value for money. “We looked at more expensive products, but they had bells and whistles that we didn’t need, and would still have had to pay for. The return on investment with Truckstops was much higher.”

While little support from Mapmechanics was needed, Fred Weimer says the company was unusually helpful when help was required. “We found their team very friendly and customer-focused. Dealing with them was a very pleasant experience, which we really enjoyed.”

Standing back from the project, Fred Weimer advises: “If you want true optimisation, you need to take a holistic approach. Take a deep look into your business, and use systems that take account of the nuances of your resources, work force and skill set.”