Transdev controls the time-critical repair processes of ticket machines with web-based EcholoN
System openness and flexibility demanded
The operation of passenger information and ticket vending machines in public transport is subject to special challenges. As disruptions must be addressed in tight time windows, permanent, IT-enabled monitoring routines, automated workflows, and reliable field service control are essential. For the extensive maintenance, repair and maintenance processes of the automatic network, the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund RMV has commissioned Transdev Vertrieb GmbH, a specialized service provider with many years of expertise in sales solutions in public transport. As a central hub for the control of the complex service procedures around the automat operation Transdev serves the service management platform EcholoN, which is used productively since April 2018.
The Leipzig-based Transdev Vertrieb GmbH is a wholly owned subsidiary of the largest private German mobility provider Transdev GmbH. As a specialist for sales solutions, Transdev Vertrieb is responsible for ticket sales, vending machines, points of sale, subscriptions, partners and personal sales.
With more than 5,000 employees, Transdev Vertrieb generates sales of around 890 million euros. On 1 January 2018, Transdev took over the operation of a total of 638 ticket machines for the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund. In addition, the company serves around 20,000 subscribers to monthly and annual RMV tickets.
Vending machine background system not designed for service control
As early as 2016, Transdev Vertrieb GmbH was awarded the contract for future vending and subscription sales in the public transport network of the RMV as part of a public tender. In the subsequent planning phase, technical requirements of the upcoming rollout were examined in addition to conceptual and technical requirements. The background system Dimas, in which the device and sales data of all machines come together centrally, is however not designed for the control of the technical field service. The machine background system is a grown system with very many, especially technical information. For the Transdev technicians this is simply too cumbersome in daily use, which has made the ongoing maintenance processes sometimes very complex. For an efficient work organization of the sales force, the introduction of a new service management solution was therefore essential.
A project team then dealt in detail with the further software evaluation process. "First of all, we got together with some of our IT, field and executive colleagues to define our key requirements for the future system. In various rounds of coordination, we prioritized these, structured them into meaningful expansion stages and summarized them in a catalog of requirements, "explains Ines Espig, who, as IT project manager at Transdev Vertrieb GmbH, was instrumental in overseeing the software project.
One of the most important requirements was, for example, the interface with the background system Dimas in order to process the terminal data automatically. The new system not only had to be able to rely on this information, but also to be able to visualize it in a structured manner via a clearly arranged user interface. The technicians should be able to see directly which vending machines report which status so that they can more effectively organize their mission and trip planning. Since a structured e-mail is automatically sent with each malfunction from the Dimas system, a reliable communication with the background system should be established with simple means.
In addition, the new system must be able to map different authorization levels for the administrator, manager or technician and enable mobile access (web portal, app, etc.). Each machine should also be assigned to permanent employees and groups. With this, Transdev wants to ensure that each fault message is assigned directly to the respective technician without prior manual dispatching. Flexible escalation levels should also provide early indication of bottleneck situations to meet the deferral schedule.
This catalog of requirements formed the starting point for the further selection process. In June 2017, suitable solution providers were first contacted on their own initiative. In the further process, the remaining pool of providers gradually condensed to three providers. "During the subsequent software presentations, we were able to see many solutions, especially from the specialists from mIT solutions with their service management platform EcholoN, and comparatively well assess how the solution 'feels' in practice. The other providers had rather vague options in the room, how one to 'possibly' tackle one or the other problem. The experienced mIT consultants have managed to take us by the hand and point out the best possible solutions. While others still had to do the conceptual work, EcholoN 'only' needed the configuration or parameterization process. That was also the decisive point on which we decided to go this route together with mIT solutions and EcholoN, "summed up IT project manager Hannes Hinerasky the decision. "I remember one sentence from the mIT Managing Director, Jochen Möller, who affirmed our reliance on trust already at the time of the conclusion of the contract: We could sit back because we would end up with exactly what we needed. And actually, it has worked out wonderfully today to put the promised into action - that's unfortunately not always the case with complex projects."
After Transdev initiated the contract in November 2017, the project went into the implementation phase. In internal training, the technicians were prepared for mobile use with the EcholoN Service Management Platform in order to organize themselves as autonomously as possible within the existing groups. The migration of the machine data, technician data as well as pick-up and maintenance data went smoothly thanks to the universal Excel import and export function of EcholoN. In April 2018, Transdev finally went live with the new system.
Targeted control measures thanks to a sharper focus on processes
Transparency is of cardinal importance for both reliable field service control and efficient troubleshooting. This is ensured by the EcholoN reporting module, with which Transdev regularly retrieves the most important evaluations: when were arrival days of the technicians, which malfunctions occurred more frequently, by what measures could they usually be remedied, how has the incidence of malfunctions since then developed, which machines or modules are generally susceptible to faults , etc. "This will allow us to get a much better picture of the current events or the effectiveness of our solutions. This is an important prerequisite for continuously improving our service quality, "explains Ines Espig.
"Day-to-day business sometimes requires juggling in the event of increased disruption, work organization and resource planning. However, thanks to detailed reports, we have noticed that there are too many tasks for too few technicians, not just during rush hours. However, we were able to remedy the capacity bottlenecks by selectively increasing our human resources. "
Effective field service control and consistent resource utilization
Previously, the deadline by which the fault clearance order must be processed was not transparent. Today, every malfunction in EcholoN is triggered by an automated workflow that allows the machine operator to receive a service order directly to their mobile device. An escalation routine stored in EcholoN also helps technicians to keep track of things and react quickly, even at peak times. Since the employees can now see directly which tickets are still open or how busy individual colleagues are, the service employees can forward orders in a targeted manner. This not only makes the sales force control very effective, but also creates a more even resource utilization in the teams. In addition, service and operations management with EcholoN also have an effective tool in hand to intervene in the process, should the order situation require it.
External money and logistics service providers are also involved in the service process via EcholoN. As soon as, for example, the change or the paper template for the ticket printout expires, the machine first issues a message. EcholoN processes this information together with the rule approach list and thus provides the database for the necessary reordering.
Suppression of a ticket machine
Further expansion in planning
EcholoN is now used by field technicians and other users via user clients in the office. The next steps to expand the service management platform are on the agenda. It is planned to deposit checklists for standardized work routines of specific maintenance and repair processes in EcholoN. In future, cleaning and maintenance intervals will also be systematically recorded directly in order to automatically remind the technicians on site of the specifications. There is also talk of providing the technicians with additional information from a knowledge database and thus supporting the handling of field service assignments.
One topic that is already in the concrete planning phase concerns the automatic system reboot of the ticket terminals: "Thanks to EcholoN, we have come to the conclusion that, for specific situations, a restart could solve the problem without further troubleshooting or on-site repair. This can in many cases save the technician's approach ", Hannes Hinerasky continues. If a predefined failure occurs, the process is not forwarded directly to a technician, but rather a system restart via EcholoN is triggered. Only if the reinitialization could not eliminate the problem, the technician receives the process for further examination and suppression.
Image source: Transdev