Wireless "Support Chain"

Access to repair manuals on PDAs saves time for maintenance staff, Enigma says

Burlington, MA  September 13, 2001  Companies operating high-value capital equipment depend on their maintenance technicians to keep their machines up and running, and maintainers depend on their repair manuals and illustrated parts catalogs to get the job done.

But running between the equipment on the shop floor and catalogs and manuals sitting on a desk to check on parts or specs can add up to increased downtime and lost revenues.

Now maintenance personnel can access critical manuals and catalogs directly from the shop floor through hand-held computers or personal digital assistants (PDAs) that use software from "support chain" applications provider Enigma, which released an updated version of its 3C Platform solution this week.

The new software provides wireless access to stored technical information through hand-helds or PDAs that support either the PalmOS or PocketPC operating system. Field personnel can search through technical information within maintenance manuals and service bulletins, as well as view illustrations of parts and repair procedures, without leaving the equipment on which they are working.

The most direct benefits, Enigma asserts, are reduced repair times and, consequently, increased uptimes. Using this solution also has obvious advantage of reducing the amount of work materials that technicians must carry with themselves to complete scheduled maintenance tasks.

Wireless support could also help address unforeseen repairs. When emergency service is required, or if unanticipated equipment problems are discovered during regularly scheduled maintenance, a technician can use a mobile device to retrieve relevant information at the work site, decreasing equipment downtime.

By accessing original manufacturer-supplied parts information and ordering information directly on the wireless devices, technicians can also locate and order parts without having to call on additional resources to complete the repair.

Enigma targets the "support chain," or all the post-sale activities necessary to maintain and support capital equipment. The company provides tools for integrating support, maintenance and spare parts information into searchable databases that can be accessed through a Web-based application. (The company also produces databases on paper and in electronic form, such as on CD-ROMs.)

Enigma's customers include such manufacturers as GE Aircraft Engines, Hewlett-Packard, John Deere and Delta Air Lines.