Swale heating which lays claim to being the biggest independent heating specialist in the south of England, has set out to improve its "first-time fix" rate thanks to new parts platform from merchant Plumb and Parts Center, together with service management software specialist Aeromark.
Swale has 280 heating engineers and takes 60% of its revenue from the social housing sector, so robust service level agreements (SLAs) are an important part of its business. In the average month the contractor will carry out at least 10,000 repairs and order between 10,000-15,000 parts. Until recently, all orders were exchanged semi-automatically through EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) transactions and emails.
In 2015, Swale began a project to streamline its whole service operation, which included replacing its computer systems with Aeromark’s Optimatics software and making major changes to the way its supply chain operated. As part of the strategy, Swale wanted to improve its data information interchange, particularly around the parts ordering process.
The next stage of the process was to engage with its long-standing merchant partner Plumb and Parts Center along with its new software provider, Aeromark, to streamline the ordering process.
The contractor uses the parts identification tool PartsArena Pro to make the identification, ordering and delivery of the parts they need as fast as possible.
PartsArena Pro, which is also fully integrated with the Aeromark Mobile App, allows engineers to access 2,700 models, 20,000 exploded diagrams, 10,000 images, and 500,000 unique parts, so they can find exactly the right parts for any job. PartsArena Pro is available round the clock, accessible via PC, tablet or mobile. Once identified, the Aeromark software then checks software locally, forecasts travel time and orders the part, all in real time. The engineer can then advise the customer when it will be available and critically when the boiler will be fixed.
As a result, Swale projects it will increase business efficiency by more than 25% and will have better control of stock and improved scheduling of its workforce - while at the same time improving service. It also means that the contractor can reduce van inventory levels, due to the confidence in parts availability, resulting in significant cost savings.
"This integration enables Aeromark to provide a more powerful solution to some of the biggest challenges to field service operations: getting the right parts to the right place, in the optimum time," says Roger Marks, Managing Director of Aeromark. "We are now even able to forecast delivery times for the more obscure non-stock items and optimise dynamically whether the engineer should collect or order for delivery."
"The Plumb and Parts Center e-business team and Aeromark have worked together to implement an efficient system which will help move our business forward in a demanding market," says Steve Parish CIO at Swale Heating, "Not only this, we can also tailor our service to the most convenient time for our customers with limited impact on the business."
George Brickwood, Head of e-business at Plumb and Parts Center said: "This project is the perfect example of how we partner our customers to improve their own business processes. Everything that we invest into our systems is to make the lives of customers easier, whether they are a multi-million pound national company or a sole trader."