Elemic Deploys Toughbook U1s to Field Engineers

Elemic Co. Ltd., a Tokyo-based company, provides maintenance for commercial electric water heaters. As a service organization, it is important that Elemic responds efficiently to customer requests. Previously, customer requests were sent to headquarters and faxed to service engineers. However, this process was prone to human error, and fax delays were common. Service engineers would also have to phone in additional onsite requests to headquarters which delayed the estimate process by a day.

In April 2009, Elemic introduced a customer relationship management (CRM) system that allowed maintenance tasks to be carried out in a prompt and reliable way. The Elemic Field Service System is a SaaS platform applying FieldBase, a CRM package made by TDC Software Engineering Inc.

Elemic evaluated a variety of notebooks and PDAs to run the FieldBase software. It was important the solution be simple and easy to operate, because many of the engineers were not technically savvy. After careful consideration, Elemic chose the Panasonic Toughbook U1 rugged handheld PC as the mobile device to be used onsite by service engineers. Elemic was looking for a mobile terminal that was compact, light weight and able to survive drops and splashes of water. The company recognized that standard notebooks were not suitable for this environment, and the screens of PDAs were too small to use comfortably. PDAs also had operating system restrictions since they did not run a full Microsoft Windows® OS, limiting software development.

With these considerations in mind, Elemic deployed Toughbook U1s with built-in barcode readers and wireless WAN. The Toughbook U1s are wirelessly linked to headquarters and automatically receive service requests and manage business tasks, including the necessary work order forms. Elemic also utilizes the Bluetooth® function to connect to mobile printers. This allows the service engineers to create a work slip and issue the paperwork to the customer onsite. In the warehouse, the company uses the built-in barcode reader to maintain a real-time inventory of products. This access to current inventory data allows Elemic to keep the right stock on hand.

As a result of the Toughbook U1 and Elemic Field Service System, business efficiency has significantly improved. Elemic can quickly issue transaction slips and has eliminated the process of faxing work orders. Customer satisfaction has also improved, providing more prompt and appropriate responses to address customers’ situations. Paper use is expected to be reduced in half and office supervisors’ overtime is down by an average of 70 percent. Through these cost savings and improvements in efficiencies, the investment has already paid for itself, delivering strong return on investment (ROI) to Elemic.

You can find more information on the Elemic Co., Ltd. case study on the Toughbook Global Site here.  A video about this Toughbook U1 deployment can be found below.