What’s New in the Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators in 2017

two machinist worker technicians at work adjusting lift with spanners in elevator hoist wayAccording to the NEII, passengers across the US travel more than 2.55 billion miles on elevators and escalators each year. During that time, eighteen billion elevator trips and 105 billion escalator rides are taken, surpassing both rail and air travel combined.

While these numbers are quite remarkable, think about what it says in relation to elevator and escalator safety. One of the safest forms of transportation in the world, the elevator and escalator industry works relentlessly to advance safety for riders and employees alike. The elevator industry has one of the lowest accident rates of any form of transportation, due in large part to the constant diligence in improving both the equipment itself and the safety codes and standards that govern the industry.

The safety code for elevators and escalators, ASME A17.1/CSA B44, is updated every three years to ensure that the requirements represent the latest safety and technology available. The code sets standards, which govern elevators and escalators on safety across a full range of industry products and applications.

What’s new this year?  With three years between updates, there are always many revisions and additions to the code. In the 2016 edition of the code, several major changes and updates went into effect. To read them all, click here.

As elevator and escalator equipment ages and new technological advances are made, the codes that govern safety are also modified. FIELDBOSS LIFT software can help you to ensure the greatest level of safety for the public and your technicians by keeping you on top of maintenance, inspections, violations and more.

Contact FIELDBOSS for more information.

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Elevator Safety: Who is Responsible for What?

gettyimages_162494716In our last newsletter, we wrote an article entitled “Who Is Responsible for “Out of Service” Elevators?in relation to the Elevator Reliability Act. The proposed bill put the onus on the contractors when an elevator goes down. If we look at the big picture, there are many factors that ensure an overall safe and effective elevator system. With the astronomical number of elevators, which is growing steadily every year, there are bound to be outages, downtime and, although rare, accidents. So who is accountable for all these elevators?

  • Equipment manufacturers must install elevators and escalators that meet the strictest safety requirements.
  • Building architects and designers must design the envelope in which these machines sit, meeting all of the fire safety, seismic, environmental and structural conditions needed for a safe system.
  • Maintenance service providers must perform the monthly and/or yearly safety tests and inspections, and follow the Maintenance Contract.
  • Building personnel must keep elevator cars and lobbies free of debris or other hazards.
  • State, municipal or third-party inspectors provide an unbiased perspective, making sure the equipment is in safe operating condition and that the MCP is in order and being adhered to.
  • Finally, the building owner has the ultimate responsibility to see that all of these players are performing their jobs properly and that the equipment is safe for its riders.

Elevator safety and maintenance is a team effort. A comprehensive, connected field service management software can help contractors, inspectors, and building owners keep their elevators moving and their riders safe.

Contact FIELDBOSS for more information.

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Canada’s Prompt Payment Act: Why it Needs to Pass

atologwiAs employment in the construction industry contributes to 6.4% of Ontario’s workforce, delayed payments are bound to negatively affect our Canadian economy. A prompt payment act would benefit the 1.3 million people working in Canada’s construction sector. Many countries around the world including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. have implemented a prompt payment legislation so why has Canada not yet taken the plunge?

Over the last decade, these delayed payments have grown immensely leading to job losses, slowed projects and small business bankruptcies. Largely affected by overdue payments are Canada’s trade contractors. While they wait for payment, they must still pay their staff and suppliers. This causes an increase in construction costs to customers. This results in a reduction in the amount of hiring and training that a firm can take on leading to declining growth across the sector and limiting the long-term availability of skilled labor.

Since 2015, the Canadian government has created a new legislation to resolve the issues in regards to prompt payment. Bill S-224 or the Prompt Payment Act was created in order to promote consistency and punctuality when it comes to payments. The new legislation aims to not only help contractors, workers and their families, but it aims to help stimulate the overall economy.

As the legislation was introduced, there has been immense support for the bill including the Contractors Division of the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) and the Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada (MCAC). Support from these associations that both happen to also be a part of the National Trade Contractors Coalition of Canada (NTCCC) helped take the bill to the Senate so quickly.

To read more about Canada’s Prompt Payment Act, or to express your support, click here.

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8 Questions Every Field Service Manager Should Be Asking

cashflowField service management software has transformed the field service business. The process of scheduling field service appointments and dispatching techs to jobs has been streamlined to allow for a more efficient and effective process. Connected mobile software has made it easier for service technicians to access the information they need on site. However, having access to field service management software is not enough if your team isn’t asking the right questions to get the most out of the software. Here are 8 questions every field service manager should be asking:

  1. Where are my field service technicians?

In order to send the most qualified and available field service technicians to each service call, field service managers have to know where their staff is. Using field service management software, technicians can geo-map their location on their mobile device giving schedulers/dispatchers a comprehensive overview of who is available at any given time to answer a service call. This ensures that customers’ requests are met as quickly and efficiently as possible.

  1. How much time is needed to complete the service call?

Service technicians can easily record the start and end times by pressing the respective button on their mobile device. They can even add break times. An accurate log of time spent on a service call synched in real-time so that management has a precise record of how much time a job has taken. The customer can then sign off confirming how much time was spent on the task. This KPI is not only helpful for field service managers trying to organize an efficient field service schedule but is also useful to refer to this information in order to give customers a rough idea of how long a particular service call might take.

  1. Is the customer satisfied with the service?

Plain and simple, customers want the best quality in the shortest amount of time. Call back rates, or first-time fix, is one of the most vital metrics in measuring field service performance. Having to make a second appointment was more frustrating for 61% of respondents than waiting time for appointments and technician not arriving on time. In today’s competitive environment, just showing up isn’t good enough. The technician must have the parts, the skills, and the information to solve the problem on the first visit. A poor first-time fix number not only reflects poor field service processes, but is also an indicator of disgruntled customers, likely customer attrition, and reduced service profitability. The ability to measure and manage your call back rate is the first step to improving your field service processes, achieving operational excellence and having satisfied, loyal customers.

  1. What is our Return on Investment (ROI)?

By tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), field service managers create a precise expense analysis that offers them detailed insight into the ROI. Using this data, they can adjust processes in order to maximize workflow by optimizing logistics, managing inventory and auto-scheduling the best technician for each job. All of this amounts to increased first-time fix rates. And, once again, companies with high first-time fix rates perform better on KPIs like customer retention, service level agreement (SLA) compliance and customer satisfaction than their counterparts with lower first-time fix rates.

  1. How can I increase the number of field service appointments per day?

Field service management software has given schedulers/dispatchers the power to implement intelligent workforce scheduling. Using a system of connected devices can ensure that service technicians with the right skills are sent to field service calls. The same software also makes it possible for them to maintain a real-time inventory overview, find the easiest route to the job site, and know the location and history of the equipment. With all this information at their fingertips, service technicians can work more quickly and efficiently, which results in a substantial increase in service calls per day and, of course, revenue.

  1.  How else can I increase the first-time-fix-rate?

Sometimes, having the right parts and the best people available on a field service call are not enough. Service technicians can not keep track of every issue and all possible solutions. Should they run into trouble while on a service call, a connected field service management software that is equipped with checklists and notes and photo’s from previous service calls can help the tech determine the next course of action. This is very important for field service companies as decreasing your call-back rate will increase your revenue.

  1. How can I sell more service contracts?

Often technicians find themselves at a job when a customer approaches and asks for a quote on a new job or a new piece of equipment that needs service. Empower your field techs to communicate sales opportunities right on their mobile device. With the click of a button, a new case can be created and sent off to the sales team for immediate follow-up.

  1. How can I best manage the knowledge we have?

Service technicians are the key to quality field services. It is critical that knowledge be shared and made available to them. It is just as essential that knowledge be centralized and secured so that employees who retire, leave the company, are off sick, or busy on another job do not take all their valuable knowledge with them. By linking field techs with each other and with back office personnel, mobile technology keeps everyone within the organization in sync, transcending the limitations of geography. A comprehensive field service management software helps build easily accessible knowledge bases so field workers can access information anywhere, anytime, regardless of their location.

Field service companies know that technology is propelling the field service industry in a new direction. How quickly and efficiently they implement these technologies and processes into their business practices will determine how profitable they become and how satisfied their customers are.

Contact FIELDBOSS to learn how you can take the necessary steps to keep pace with the transformations in the field service industry.

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Who Is Responsible for “Out of Service” Elevators?

big-bang-theory-elevatorIt may be funny to watch the cast of the TV comedy “The Big Bang Theory” detour around a broken elevator by climbing up and down several flights of stairs for the last 10 seasons, but no one living through downed elevators is laughing.

In last month’s newsletter, we wrote about a private member’s bill proposed in Ontario, Canada that aims to tackle the major problem of unreliable, broken-down elevators. The proposed act has caused a lot of discussion and debate around the topic of who is responsible for the timely repair of buildings elevators.

While the proposed bill is making its way through the lengthy path to legislation, the Ontario government is trying to get to the bottom of what is causing the high number of elevator outages or otherwise poor service and, most importantly, to find the best solutions. In order to do so, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services has ordered the provincial safety agency to commission the necessary research. The Technical Standards and Safety Authority – TSSA – is now calling for bids to do the research and report on potential solutions by mid-October. The winning bidders must find out how bad the problem is, the causes, and report on legislative and non-legislative steps municipal, provincial or federal entities should take to deal with the issue. The winning bidder will also be required to investigate what, if anything, other jurisdictions such as New York, London or Singapore have done to address the problems.

Although the proposed Bill was not meant to target independent contractors, the Canadian Elevator Contractors Association has identified numerous shortcomings of Bill 109, which essentially frees property owners from a number of responsibilities to building tenants, and places an unfair onus on elevator contractors.

For example:

  • Old elevators with obsolete components may take longer to find parts so having 14 days (and in some cases 7) to fix a problem might be unrealistic.
  • Building owners who fail to pay contractors: The proposed Bill 109 states: “The contractor responsible for maintaining an elevator that becomes unavailable for use because it needs repair shall ensure that the elevator is repaired.” The bill does not define what “contractor responsible” entails. With most elevator contracts, some or all causes of breakdowns are not included in the contract and the building owner must pay extra for these situations. Who then is responsible if the owner has not authorized or paid for the repair? As currently written, the bill does nothing to alleviate the situation; in fact, it just confuses it more.
  • Building owners who fail to budget and invest the money in upgrading their elevators soon enough results in the elevators becoming more unreliable and taking longer to repair as they age.
  • The causes of many elevator shutdowns are often outside of the control of the elevator contractors, such as flooding. In situations like this, a 2-week turnaround is just not possible since a substantial portion of each elevator must be replaced or rebuilt to satisfy TSSA’s safety requirements.

No matter what city, state or country you live in, elevator safety and maintenance is the responsibility of both contractors and building owners.

 

FIELDBOSS LIFT can help Ontario contractors cope with The Elevator Reliability Act by:

  • Staying on top of maintenance projects by auto-scheduling the dates into your companies schedule and dispatch system. When it’s time for maintenance, it will not only alert you to the job but have all the client and asset information ready to go.
  • Elevator contractors can better negotiate with building owners by offering a real time link to the maintenance service schedules and tasks agreed upon for maintenance that the device actually requires for proper operating conditions.
  • Staying accountable! Contractors can offer building owners real time notifications when maintenance is being performed and can send photographic or video evidence that tasks are complete and payment is due.
  • Documenting everything. In the event that a problem does occur, the documentation and reports that FIELDBOSS LIFT stores can act as proof that you and your staff did everything in your power to assure that the elevators were running properly.
  • Storing data, like information on how to operate equipment, user manuals, regulatory documents (such as OSHA standards), warranty and vendor information – virtually every piece of data you can think of. Having this info at hand is crucial in times of outages and mission-critical situations. Just pull up your elevator’s record and you are all set!

Collaborating with building owners on maintenance contracts that make sense for the device and for the contractor will help balance the onus of responsibility while at the same time allow contractors to get proper budgets to maintain equipment and earn an appropriate profit for the skills, risk and investment they take on.

Contact FIELDBOSS and learn how not only to protect your customers in times of crisis, but your business as well.

 

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Do You Know Your Call Back Rate?

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The service promise that customers hold their contractors to is not too far-reaching: ensure that the equipment and/or assets under contract remain operational. Is that too much to ask?

According to Aberdeen research, the most aggravating occurrence and the primary reason that customers complain about a service organization involves their inability to fix it right the first time. Call back rates, or first-time fix, is one of the most vital metrics in measuring field service performance. Having to make a second appointment was more frustrating for 61% of respondents than waiting time for appointments and technician not arriving on time. In today’s competitive environment, just showing up isn’t good enough. The technician must have the parts, the skills, and the information to solve the problem on the first visit. A poor first-time fix number not only reflects poor field service processes, but is also an indicator of disgruntled customers, likely customer attrition, and reduced service profitability. The ability to measure and manage your call back rate is the first step to improving your field service processes and achieving operational excellence.

Improving your call back number requires the ability to capture and analyze critical data in real-time. A configurable call back dashboard can facilitate the easy monitoring of this important metric. The configurable dashboards provide you with easy to read graphs and charts that visually alert you to what is working and what is not. Is there a certain technician that is struggling with first-time fix? Is it a particular client? A bad month? How much money are you losing on second and third truck rolls? Once you have this real-time information readily available, it will be easy to analyze what caused the deficit and allow management to quickly adjust as necessary. Performance dashboards facilitate getting the right information to the right users at the right time to optimize decisions, enhance efficiency, and accelerate results.

Today’s fast-paced, competitive service environment demands a top-notch call-back rate. Having the right data in hand is critical to making informed decisions, rather than managing your service business on “gut feel”. Contact FIELDBOSS and learn how to keep customers happy and service revenues flowing by cutting your call back rate and improving your first time fix.

 

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FIELDBOSS® Feature of the Month: Accounting & Service Systems Integration

Dynamics GPFIELDBOSS®’s most complex and valued feature for field service organizations is the integration of their accounting and service systems. FIELDBOSS® has hundreds of awesome features but the one we had to get right first was connecting a strong accounting system to a strong service system. With an integrated system, management, office staff and field tech’s will increase productivity and do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. If you run disconnected business systems, it can result in additional effort to re-enter information such as customer information or job data. This wastes time and resources, and leads to data discrepancies and lost revenue.

Our approach when developing FIELDBOSS® was to leverage the best technology and functionality platform available so we could focus on solving industry problems and staying ahead of industry trends. The key to the system is our ability to update a work order in real time with accounting information so users have a constant view of revenue, costs, margins and markups. With 42 integration points, the work order and other objects, such as projects and dashboards, are updated continuously. Currently integrated with Microsoft GP, we plan to expand our accounting system integration to other commonly used accounting systems in the near future.

So what happens when you use an integrated system like FIELDBOSS®? You get an optimized system that helps you: invoice faster, increase your revenue, grow your business and leave a trail of happy customers.

Contact FIELDBOSS® to learn more about all the amazing features.

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Preparing for a Successful Implementation


7-tips-to-successful-ehs-software-implementationFailing to prepare is preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Your field service company has realized they need help as workflow inefficiencies and disconnected systems are preventing growth and limiting revenue. After months and months of searching for new field service software, your team has finally found a solution they like. There is only one thing left standing between your service operation and pure, unhindered efficiency: a successful implementation.

Here are some must-haves to ensure a successful implementation:

  • Managers who are committed to leveraging technologies for organizational productivity and situational awareness.
  • A strong accounting person who is responsible for the success of the implementation, coupled with a strong operations person.
  • A person solely dedicated to maintenance contracts, if you have more than 50 contracts.
  • Adequate time for testing your new business process in a test environment.
  • One staff member who has a passion for doing a deeper dive into the new system post-implementation.
  • Iterative improvements based on the existing and future capabilities of the Microsoft platform and improvements to FIELDBOSS®

An unprepared and poorly planned implementation will not only discourage employees from using the new program but also destroy any benefits the software would have provided. Take the time to plan and do it right. Your employees and customers will thank you.

Contact FIELDBOSS® to learn how to plan for a system conversion, how to spot implementation risks before they happen and how to set and measure the ROI and Payback on such projects.

Join us at the NAEC Convention in Orlando this Fall where we will be speaking about Business System Conversions – Best Practices, Lessons Learned and ROI Expectations. Looking forward to seeing you there.

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CECA Standardized Maintenance Contract

inside a elevator shaftPreventive maintenance and service contracts are the most profitable source of revenue for elevator contractor companies. Businesses that perform preventive maintenance out-earn companies that don’t. But what happens if maintenance contracts aren’t filled out correctly or with all the necessary information? Busy elevator companies are often weighed down by the amount of paperwork, documentation, and demand for information that is required. Forms are often incomplete and, even more so, inconsistent.

CECA has solved this problem for its member companies by creating a standardized maintenance contract form. CECA members who use this form and choose FIELDBOSS® as their field service management software solution will have the added benefit of being able to have the form integrated into the FIELDBOSS® solution. The comprehensive document covers every detail such as elevator locations, payment terms, what is and is not covered by the contract, owner obligations and much more.

FIELDBOSS® allows any standardized maintenance form, CECA or other, to be uploaded to its system creating a digital copy that is accessible on your techs mobile device for every job. With a standardized maintenance contract, critical information will always be recorded more accurately and consistently. Your elevator service team will always have the necessary information to know what is covered by a maintenance contract, when it is expired and what services are required. The schedule and dispatch department will always know when to schedule maintenance, and management will have all the information required to see if a maintenance contract is bringing in revenue or needs to be adjusted.

Standardized maintenance forms play an essential role in streamlining workflows and driving operational efficiencies by providing a comprehensive and consistent flow of information. The result is measurable improvements in time-savings and information quality resulting in an increase in revenue.

Contact FIELDBOSS to see how standardized maintenance contracts can save your elevator service company time and money.

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Unclog the Back Office by Optimizing Schedule and Dispatch

Service CalendarA flexible, connected scheduling software is critical for field service organizations that are looking for ways to provide superior customer service while reducing operating costs. Customers increasingly want faster service resolution at a lower cost; improving scheduling and field technician efficiency is one of the ways to effectively achieve that goal.

When searching for a field service management software solution for your business, it is important to look for one that integrates the mobile field service with the back office, allowing data from the technicians, the scheduling engine, and the business systems to be seamlessly integrated. This not only improves scheduling efficiency, it also provides enhanced visibility into the service operation so that managers can better measure performance and create an auditable data trail to establish a service baseline, improve processes, and reduce costs. A comprehensive solution will give field service organizations the opportunity to improve management of costs associated with the schedule/dispatch operation and return service visits that can be avoided via improved scheduling.

 

Automated dispatching, scheduling, and routing can have a direct impact on service costs by:

Improving Technician Productivity

Rather than managing their schedules and dealing with dispatchers, technicians can spend more time working with customers and completing service activities. Having access to a map allows technicians to not only efficiently complete their routes but also quickly and easily locate the nearest parts depot. Improved scheduling makes technicians more efficient and productive, enabling them to complete more service calls per day. Even adding one work order per technician per day can increase revenues without adding staff. And by helping them work more efficiently, service companies can reduce or eliminate costly overtime.

Improving Scheduling of Preventive Maintenance

Scheduling preventive maintenance (PM) work between break/fix calls can be a challenge. By automating and incorporating PM calls into the scheduling system, they can automatically be assigned based on technician location and other factors. If technicians have some free time between jobs, they can easily see what maintenance activities are coming up, what the closest location is and take advantage of what otherwise would have been wasted time. Technician proficiency helps improve customer loyalty and can generate add-on business.

Reducing Non-Value-Added Time

In a manual dispatch environment, technicians and dispatchers spend an enormous amount of time on the phone, leaving and responding to messages. An automated solution can eliminate phone calls and reduce reliance on direct contact between the dispatcher and the field saving hours per day allowing schedulers and technicians to be focusing their time on satisfying customers.

Improving First Time Fix Rate

One of the most aggravating incidents for any customer is when a return trip needs to be made because the technician couldn’t resolve the issue on the first visit. First-time fix rate is one of the most vital metrics in measuring field service performance. For companies burdened by low first-time fix rates, the extra expenses required to resolve jobs not fixed the first time add up quickly: multiple extra truck rolls, extra labor, increased dispatch energy and attention, and lost service opportunities elsewhere. The higher your first-time fix rate is, the greater capacity your team will have to make more service calls in a day and service new customers at the lowest possible operational cost. An intelligent dispatch/scheduling solution plays a key role in making that possible.

Reducing Drive Time

Automated scheduling only solves part of the problem relative to getting the right techs to a given location. Routing those technicians is equally important. Routing systems can guide technicians efficiently from one job to the next. Better routing can reduce the amount of drive time between jobs helping technicians arrive on time, complete more work orders per day and even reduce fuel consumption. With the cost of fuel continuing to rise, reducing unnecessary drive time can be a major contributor to reducing operational costs.

Reducing Dispatcher-to-Technician Ratios

Manual dispatching requires a high number of dispatch personnel to manage a given group of technicians, primarily because of the amount of time spent on the phone and dealing with a daily barrage of scheduled and emergency service visits for multiple customers. By automating these processes, the total number of dispatchers can be significantly reduced.

Optimal field service automation is more than just electronically managing work orders. A fully integrated field service solution is required in order to increase productivity while lowering costs. A key component of this solution is a highly automated scheduling, dispatch, and routing system that will ensure that qualified technicians arrive at the job site on time, with the right tools and parts while taking into account technician availability, location, travel time, SLA requirements, and many other factors. The result is improved technician productivity and customer service, and a reduction in operational costs.

Contact FIELDBOSS and see how we can help you get your technicians where they need to be while reducing your operational costs to increase revenue.

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