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Case Studies: Field Service

Itronix Equips More Than 10,000 Sears Field Technicians with Rugged Wireless Computing Solutions
(Pen Computing Issue #53

Itronix Corp., the world's leader for implementing wireless, rugged mobile computing systems, completed within just seven weeks a 181-city nationwide wireless implementation project with Sears, Roebuck and Co. As a result, Itronix recently won three Partners in Progress awards from Sears, including the highly coveted 2002 Enterprise-wide Innovation of the Year vendor award, bestowed on just one of more than 10,000 companies. The awards mark a successful eight-year partnership between Itronix and Sears, which culminated with a seven-week implementation project that equipped more than 10,000 Sears field technicians and their service vehicles with Itronix wireless, rugged mobile computing solutions. By maintaining 100 percent connectivity, Sears technicians can complete more service calls and increase their productivity, while improving the company's industry-leading customer service quality of care.

The Evolution of Partnership: From First-gen Satellite to State-of-the-art Wireless

  • 1995 - The partnership between Itronix and Sears begins with the implementation of Sears' first-generation satellite solution. Sears purchases 12,000 XC6000 laptops for its technical workforce; Itronix trains Sears technicians and manages the connection of its wireless networks.
  • 1997 - In the next phase of the relationship, Itronix works with Sears to move from the DOS environment to Windows, in a time frame of 18 months from signed statement of work to full nationwide implementation.
  • 2000 - The relationship deepens when Itronix assumes help desk responsibilities, which involves the company in Sears' business and user processes, and communication infrastructure. Itronix becomes the single point of contact for the support of all field technicians and management personnel.
  • 2001 - Sears and Itronix begin collaborating on the next generation of the Sears Smart Toolbox, a state-of-the-art mobile computing system for Sears technicians.
  • 2003 - The Sears Smart Toolbox project is implemented in just seven weeks, across 181 cities in the U.S., equipping 10,000 field service technicians and their vans with Itronix wireless, mobile computing solutions.

    Reaping the Rewards of Partnership: Next-Generation Sears Smart Toolbox Implemented Across the Nation in Seven Weeks

    Sears' Product Repair Services organization is comprised of technicians who serve 100 million homes a year, with $3.5 billion in revenues. Committed to being the leader of in-home product repair services, Sears expressed interest in 2000 in working with Itronix to develop a next-generation version of its Sears Smart Toolbox - the equipment and technology that support the company's product repair services organization. Requirements of the project included achieving 100 percent connectivity for Sears field technicians, and real-time, dependable access to a parts database of more than 420,000 different model numbers, including schematics and service flash information. For Itronix, providing the best solution, along with the right service and ongoing support, was paramount to a successful implementation.

    The first stage of implementation involved the manufacture of 10,000 Itronix wireless, rugged GoBook laptops. The units were staged, tested, packaged and shipped to Sears technicians at 181 training locations throughout the country in order of a predetermined training schedule. While each technician received four hours of training time, Itronix personnel concurrently installed the wiring and equipment necessary that converted each technician's van into a Wi-Fi enabled "hot spot." In four hours, each technician was trained, wired, and ready to begin service. The entire implementation was successfully completed in just seven weeks.

    Today, the next generation of the "Sears Smart Toolbox" is a state-of-the-art mobile computing system that enables 10,000 Sears technicians to obtain secure, reliable and instant access to vital product and customer information. For example, a Sears technician repairing a dishwasher now has access to on-line diagnostic information, wireless communications for real-time parts inquiry and customer information, and a Global Positioning System to provide best routing information to customer locations, among other features. As a result, Sears is able to increase its field service productivity and reduce the number of trips per repair because technicians have real-time access to critical information. -