Rocla Solutions: New mobile tool simplifies the work of service technicians
Rocla Solutions Oy, a sales and marketing organization of Rocla’s electric warehouse trucks, forklifts and automated guided vehicles (AGV), offers maintenance services throughout Finland. The company’s service organisation employs almost 80 service technicians, who take care of approximately 26,000 assignments a year. Their assignments range from emergency repairs to spare parts orders and scheduled maintenance. The continuously changing work situations must be managed in real time and on the road.
Rocla service technician Antti Cederström grabs his smartphone from the pocket of his overalls to record that he is starting work on his assignment.
“My smartphone has the Service Tool app, which I use to accept assignments and report my work, hours and travel details. I can also use the same tool to access equipment specs and the service history, as well as to order spare parts and report all the tasks that were performed. This gives our service technicians, managers and customers real-time information about the status of the equipment,” Antti explains.
From a complicated and heavy ERP system to their own lighter solution
Rocla is investing in the development and introduction of new digital tools. As Rocla service specialist Jukka Hermiö can confirm, off-the-shelf solutions are not always ideal.
“We have tried numerous ERP systems for our service operations that have included additional tools for our service technicians. However, these off-the-shelf solutions were too complicated and hard to use, especially out in the field. In addition, none of these ready solutions were flexible enough to suit our own needs. We then began working with Sysart to develop our own lighter solution that would offer all the information and tools we need in an easy-to-use package,” Jukka says.
The result was a progressive web app, or PWA. The service works like any other website except it can be “installed” on a smartphone, so it can be used as a built-in app. The service is closely integrated with the Microsoft Dynamics NAV enterprise resource planning app.
“Thanks to the latest web technologies and cloud-based services, the app loads quickly and is easy to expand and further develop according to our needs,” Jukka adds.
Fewer overlapping systems and real-time information
According to field service manager Jaakko Liukkala, one of the biggest differences compared to previous systems is how the new tools can be used with different devices. Service technicians prefer to use the mobile version when visiting customers. The new system also makes it easier for Jaakko to manage all the assignments.
Every day I have to manage lots of different assignments in different locations and with different service technicians. The new interface is more visual, which makes it easier to get an overall picture of all our activities and to plan our work,” Jaakko explains.
The new system also saves service technicians a lot of time.
“Previously, both an internal and external invoice had to be created for each assignment, and we had up to three workbooks. Now, invoicing is fully integrated, so we only have to record the information in one place. Another improvement with the new system is that we can now check our inventories in real time. The new system also makes it possible to hand over a task to a colleague and to allow local service technicians to choose their tasks,” adds Antti Cederström from the point of view of one of the service technicians who relies on the new tool.
An agile and all-inclusive approach
What advice would Rocla service specialist Jukka Hermiö give to other companies thinking about a similar development project – would he have done something differently?
“We purposely began with an agile approach to development. In the first phase, we developed functions based on the information we had at hand. We then invited feedback from users to further develop the service. In fact, the main takeaway from this project has been the importance of listening to users instead of making assumptions,” Jukka confirms.
Rocla’s managers and service technicians agree that the success of a development project like this depends on getting users to influence solutions at an early stage.
“We really appreciate how we have been involved in this project, especially recently. It enables us to get real feedback about different possibilities in both the long and short terms,” says field service manager Jaakko Liukkala. “
How has it been working together with Sysart on this software development project?
“Our cooperation has been really smooth and flexible. We are happy with how Sysart’s experts have been involved in the project, not just doing what we say but genuinely brainstorming ideas with us. Sysart’s experts have been able to see things from an outsider’s perspective. We are very satisfied with the help we have received and with how successful we have been in developing our services together,” Jukka Hermiö summarises.
Rocla Solutions Oy offers a wide range of forklifts, including Rocla and Cat® electric forklifts, as well as diesel-powered Cat® lift trucks. The company also offers comprehensive services for the forklift sector, including maintenance, rental, inspection, training and information services.