Thursday, June 28, 2007

HVAC Maintenance and Mobile Handheld PDAs

Access Heating & Air Conditioning came to my house today. Poor them...they did not realize that I work at MobileDataforce and we design, develop and deploy mobile handheld PDA HVAC software applications. They must think I am the most obnoxious customer they have ever had.

"Using a paper form and clipboard I see."
"How do you know what job to do next?"
"They tell me on the radio."
"How many jobs do you do a day?"
"As many as they tell me."
"How do they tell you?"
"I go to the office in the morning and they say - here and hand me a job."
"What about jobs 2-7?"
"I call them on a radio and say I am finished. They say about time now go here or there."
"Do you ever need to review past work orders or maintenance forms?"
"Yep - most of the time the customer has the last one duct taped to the side of the furnace."
"If not?"
"I call the office and ask them to look in the file and read it to me."
"Why three separate forms?"
"One for a service agreement, one is a maintenance checklist and the third is an invoice."
"What happens when you give all that paper work to the office staff?"
"The invoice is put into the computer, the other 2 forms go into a notebook/file folder."
"How long does a service call take?"
"With a customer like you? Too long."

I refrained from explaining how we mobilize HVAC operations regularly. It makes so much sense to combine the 3 forms into one mobile software application on a handheld computer. The service agreement, maintenance inspection and invoice could be integrated easily into one electronic form on the rugged handheld computer and the data could be synchronized wirelessly directly to the office computer system.

The service technician could query past visits with a simple online request. Digital signatures and a mobile handheld computer could be used to capture digital signatures and a mobile printer used for the invoice. The invoice could even be emailed to the customer rather than using more paper.

Service orders could be dispatched electronically to the service technicians handheld computer rather than trying to call and read all the information, which the service technician scribbles on a paper tablet while drinking his coffee and driving through the rain in rush hour traffic.

Oh my...I have a lot of work to do.