Bonded Filter – Field maintenance optimizationMay 27th, 2015
- Scheduling a fast-growing US-wide network of home-based HVAC technicians
- Adding new bases and customers while maintaining tight control of the operation
- Automatically scheduling “night out of town” trips when travel exceeds 80 miles
- Planning visits that vary in frequency according to each customer’s needs
It enabled us to take on a large number of new sites and routes, and still manage them systematically and efficiently.
Bonded Filter Co., of Nashville, Tennessee, manufactures the patented PleatLink® range of air filters, which are used widely throughout the United States in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment for commercial premises – stores, warehouses, movie theaters, and other public spaces.
Unlike other companies in this field, BFC offers a service to its customers under which it renews its filters on a regular cycle (typically every 90 days), saving customers from having to call out local engineers to do the job on an ad hoc basis, and ensuring continued high performance from the equipment. The service is provided throughout the 48 contiguous states. Filters are also shipped to other states and territories.
To provide the regular filter replacement service, BFC employs a team of over 70 technicians, who are based at major population centers throughout the contiguous states, and serve 23,000 customer sites in total. Working from a local storage base in each area, they replace the filters of customers across that area, making about half a dozen calls a day – sometimes up to ten.
“In the early days we only employed seven or eight field technicians, so we could plan their movements on paper,” recalls Gary Mudd, BFC’s chief operating officer. “But as we added more routes, the scheduling became more complicated and time-consuming. If we’d continued on that basis, we would have needed a whole army of schedulers by now.”
- The TRUCKSTOPS vehicle routing and scheduling solution
- A later upgrade to the current version, with enhanced interface and new features
- Webinar-based training and backup from MAPMECHANICS
Truckstops gives us really useful visibility of future product demand.
To solve the problem, the company introduced Truckstops; and to ensure that it was used to good effect, new staff member, Bryan Grigsby, was appointed to organize the scheduling. Initially he spent some months on the road as a technician to learn the requirements first hand.
He proved that the product could be much more efficient than the old paper system. “Truckstops has enabled us to take on a large number of new sites and routes, and still manage them systematically and efficiently,” he says.
“It’s particularly effective at complex tasks like planning ‘night out of town’ trips,” adds Gary Mudd. “These can arise when a technician has to travel more than eighty miles to a call point or group of calls, and it is more efficient for him to stay in the area overnight than to return home and then go back there next day.”
Truckstops also takes account of replacement cycles that vary from one customer to another, ranging from 30 to 90 days, and it can be set up to allow slight variances in the strict schedule (within agreed parameters) if this produces a more efficient result.
Now the company has upgraded to the latest version from Mapmechanics, gaining the advantages of its more modern interface, richer range of features and expanded backup service.
- Efficient automated scheduling of a nationwide network of technicians
- Ability to take account of new customers and contracts when they are taken on
- Visibility of future product demand, helping with forward production planning
- Integration with related systems such as in-cab GPS navigation
- More efficient use of Truckstops following online training by Mapmechanics
Mapmechanics provided us with really useful formal webinar-based training.
Gary Mudd says that the scheduling has now become so reliable that BFC is able to take account of its predicted requirements when working on the factory’s production plan. “It gives us really useful visibility of future product demand.”
Bryan Grigsby praises the exceptional support introduced by Mapmechanics. “Until they came along, all I knew about this software was what I learned from my predecessor. They provided us with really useful formal webinar-based training.”
The gains have ranged from color-coding different customers on a map to much more wide-ranging improvements. “I used to run a separate solution for each of the thirteen weeks in a quarter,” Bryan says, “but they showed me how I could combine all thirteen weeks into a single solution, which is much more efficient all round.”
Integration with other company systems has been particularly effective, Gary Mudd reports. This includes integration with the SageQuest GPS navigation system fitted in its vans, allowing technicians to call up details of their next visit on their windshield display automatically without having to type anything in.
He sums up: “Making contact with Mapmechanics was a refreshing discovery. It gave us the confidence we needed to move forward with Truckstops, knowing we were using a proven product that would only get better.”