On the road for Deutsche Bahn

Optimal deployment of 1,500 service technicians

A maintenance system for 80 dispatchers, 1,500 service technicians and more than 50,000 orders per month, including innovative functions, e.g. a qualification catalog with a filter function. DB Kommunikationstechnik is happy with the solution implemented by e-switch.

The planning tool is running smoothly and DB Kommunikationstechnik is maintaining the service pledge to its clients. Now the goal is to develop it from a mere planning tool into a real-time schedule manager.


Rich complexity as a challenge …

The maintenance and service portfolio of DB Kommunikationstechnik could hardly be any wider and more complex, from automation technology (ticket machines, ATMs, parking ticket machines) to wireless technology (GSM rail, shunting radio) and safety technology all the way to ITC technology. And all this across the entire nation and in a considerable volume. For example, the statistics of the service provider show 960,000 individual events, 56,000 orders and 1,500 active technicians in September 2016 alone. It’s clear to see that this army of service technicians needs to be managed with IT support.


… and an opportunity.

As early as 2010, it was clear to DB Kommunikationstechnik that the merger with Systel, a service business unit of the DB system house, meant that a central scheduling tool and mobile support of the service technicians were absolutely essential. “The right technician at the right time in the right place” was the goal, and this goal was to be achieved with an advanced new planning tool. “We wanted the scheduling tool and the mobile application for the service technicians to come from one source,” says Peter Rehfeld, project team member. The Eschborners had already had a good experience with the applications previously. Twelve workshops and nine months later, DB Kommunikationstechnik had developed the detailed catalog of requirements. Project name: MONA – Mobile Anbindung Auftragssteuerung (German for “mobile connection for order management”).

e-switch boasts flexibility

The DB project team looked at multiple suppliers and determined “that they didn’t differ very much with respect to technology” and chose e-switch. Peter Rehfeld says, “e-switch had the best listeners, asked the right questions and saw things from our point of view right away.” Above all, however, according to project member Marcus Rahm, e-switch communicated openly from the beginning and made the possibilities and limitations clear. Rahm says that “e-switch simply appeared to be flexible.”

The solution

One year later, the solution went into action. DB Kommunikationstechnik is now equipped with a scheduling system that is completely integrated into SAP and is based on the e-switch Visual Planning Board framework. It is linked with a mobile solution – an app based on the mCompanion product from e-switch. All technicians received new company Android smartphones. The solution performs all of the following functions:

  • Complete mobile order management including responses, material management (including order placement), checklists and access to documents.
  • Integration of maps (scheduling system) for the purpose of visualizing service technician and client locations.
  • The system stores information about approx. 220 qualifications and 85 local areas that certain service technicians are familiar with – in order to better select them and increase the quality of the work.
  • Complete integration into the SAP backend for simple and correct billing and for communicating with the clients via SAP, from the order confirmation to interim messages all the way to the completion message.


On the road with optimal mobility

80 dispatchers in 4 (previously 43) DB Kommunikationstechnik service centers can now select service technicians according to availability, location and qualification and assign them to pending orders by dragging and dropping. There are multiple advantages. It’s no longer a matter of which service technician the dispatcher knows, but of which service technician is currently the optimal one for the job. The dispatcher recognizes the processing status of the order in real time. The dispatcher looks at a clear timeline to see which orders are complete, in progress or pending. A traffic light system shows the dispatcher how busy the service employee is. Peter Rehfeld states, “This method allows the dispatchers to attempt to distribute the workload across as many shoulders as possible so that no individual service technician will have to work unnecessary overtime.”

The service technicians receive their orders via smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S7), which they use to respond with updates throughout the entire job process. This means that they report times, describe the solution and record material consumption. The y can look up the master data of the order equipment and since the end of 2016 they have been able to view the malfunction history and recognize what has already been done to the object. Furthermore, plans are in place to allow the service technicians to send job-related documents, e.g. photos, back to the central system.


"The scheduling tool and the mobile application for the service technicians should come from a single source."

Peter Rehfeld, Process & SAP Specialist,
DB Kommunikationstechnik GmbH

"The scheduling tool and the mobile application for the service technicians should come from a single source."

Peter Rehfeld, Process & SAP Specialist,
DB Kommunikationstechnik GmbH

Overcoming start-up difficulties together

According to Marcus Rahm, the service technicians responded positively to the solution. “The advantages are clear.” The scheduling solution was not without its initial difficulties. “We simply underestimated the sheer volume of our business,” said Peter Rehfeld today. The consequence: performance problems. Thanks to the joint effort of all those involved, it was possible to get the applications running smoothly. DB Kommunikationstechnik is currently very happy with the tool. The internal processes have come together and the service levels agreed upon with the clients can be adhered to. “They key figures are looking good,” says Rehfeld.


Looking forward

Since its beginning, the scheduling solution has been developed continually by e-switch and DB Kommunikationstechnik. Currently, this development involves two to three releases per year. The goal is to gradually eliminate the need for paper (e.g. measurement protocols, damage documents) and to digitalize. From now on, the dispatcher will be able to find and assign the right technician even more easily. The dispatcher will be able to provide the service employee with more product documents. In addition, the real-time factor of the application will be increased. Marcus Raum says, “We want to go from a planning tool to more of a direct view.”


The website of the company: https://www.dbkommunikationstechnik.de


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