The VitalAire GmbH is a nationwide active service company, which is specialized in the respiratory home therapy. The 100 percent subsidiary of the French group AirLiquide has its headquarters in Norderstedt near Hamburg. More than 900 employees work for the VitalAire Group, including more than 400 in field service. The focus is on the areas of home respiration, sleep apnoea therapy, long-term oxygen therapy and monitoring.
Increase of efficiency through IT-supported resource planning
Within the scope of the oxygen-long-term therapy VitalAire delivers medical liquid oxygen with special transporters to the patient’s home. The special containers at the customer`s home are filled up by 130 drivers every one to four weeks. 15 specially trained drivers take on the delivery of the medical devices and also brief the patients. The medical device maintenance is provided by 55 service technicians. Several thousand orders pile up here every month.
In 2009, VitalAire was looking for a solution to centrally plan and control the assignments of the delivery drivers and the service technicians. The aim was to increase the efficiency of the operational planning and to dissolve the breakdown into regions to keep up with the rising order volume. Until then, the drivers had fixed tours and appointments in their areas. The service technicians received an order book with all due maintenances in their postal code area once a month and arranged their appointments with the patients by themselves. VitalAire opted for the graphical controlling and planning tool mobileX-Dispatch. The deciding factors were the smooth integration into SAP CS and SD as well as the understanding of mobileX AG for the special requirements of VitalAire.
Central Route Optimization for Service Technicians and Oxygen Provisioning
The rollout of the solution started in September 2009 with six dispatchers. Today, eleven dispatchers centrally plan the assignments of the service technicians and delivery drivers from Dortmund for all regions. The liquid oxygen drivers are controlled by 17 dispatchers based in Dortmund, Dresden and Stuttgart. Thereby, the maintenance assignments are generated from SAP CS, while the sales documents for the deliveries and oxygen fillings come from SAP SD. Due to a special adjustment of mobileX-Dispatch, follow-up appointments for further deliveries are automatically created after the first liquid oxygen provisioning. Nevertheless, the dispatcher can still make individual adjustments if required by the patient or the circumstances.
The route planning for the maintenances is taking place partly automatically as well. The workforce management solution recommends certain tours and dates to the dispatcher which he can take or modify. When carrying out first deliveries or exchanging the devices, the service technicians and delivery drivers individually arrange an appointment with the patient. Since the transporters with liquid oxygen are equipped with GPS devices, they report their position to the head office in real time. As a result, the dispatchers can plan the tours on a daily basis due to the position data if required or react immediately in case of an emergency.
In 2013 the automatic system of mobileX-Dispatch at VitalAire was optimized based on the experience of four years operational planning. As a consequence of the rapid growth of VitalAire the dispatchers of the liquid oxygen drivers do not control the service technicians, even though this was originally planned. Dedicated dispatchers have been employed for them instead.
After five years, VitalAire draws a positive résumé of the field service management project.
The planning of the service technicians with Excel tables wouldn’t be possible anymore to this extent. With the launch of mobileX-Dispatch we have certainly increased the efficiency of our operational planning. The central control system also enabled us to dissolve the territorial boundaries according to postal codes and to introduce an optimized route planning. Our service technicians can now finally concentrate on their actual task, which is the device maintenance at the patient’s home.
Image source: www.vitalaire.de