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Discussion Starter #1
We have been using laptops in the field for a number of years. I am looking into the Ipad for field service. Is there any interest in this type of technology? Does anyone else use an Ipad for invoicing etc....
 

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Drain Cleaning Specialist
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I have been think about this myself do they have portable printers?
 

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We use this:
http://www.motorola.com/Business/US...obile+Computers/Handheld+Computers/MC75_US-EN

We can scan credit cards, look up customer files, inventory, price book, email, text, internet, GPS, bar code scanning, etc. Pretty much anything a Droid can do and more.

We do not use portable printers. We email the invoice to the customer. If they insist, which is hardly ever, we'll fill out an invoice. We just don't see a need for a printer.

We have 13 of these being used in the field.

Ipad just isn't there yet.
 

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I Married Up
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How much did you pay for them? I see them from Motorola partners in the $2,200+ range.

For that kind of money, I think I would be more inclined to go with the Panasonic Toughbook offering with standard operating systems rather than Windows Mobile.

http://www.panasonic.com/business/toughbook/toughbook-products.asp

I'm just not sure the cool factor of mobile computing justify the costs. The only real benefit I've seen is being able to have every catalog and/or repair manual imaginable at your fingertips on the job without having a physical library in the cab. I also not convinced this level of expense is offset by being able to eliminate hand written invoices. Not saying it's bad, just not sure it's worth $2K+ to me.

Of course, no matter how durable the unit is, there will be that inevitable, "HOW DID YOUR LAPTOP END UP IN THE CITY SEWER MAIN!?!? :furious:" moment. You just know something bad is bound to happen with a tool that touchy. Heck, sometimes we struggle keeping them working in an office.:yes:
 

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Bjones has the mother of all mobile workstations, and the price tells me so. I just simply use my iphone. I have a billing app to email invoices, an app that I can drop documents from my cpu to the phone called dropbox, I take credit cards through the use of a swiper with an app called square. In this way an ipad would be the same with a data plan.
I personally could not see me investing in high tech equipment for billing and such in the field. My phone see's water at least once a year.
 

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I'm old enough where my sausage fingers make enough mistakes on a full keyboard or, laptop keyboard, and my eyes rebel at the thought of the small phone screens. :whistling2:

I use a laptop in my van and consider it a valuable tool. For me the phone is a phone and I don't want it to be anything else.

I don't need no stinkin apps....

And I don't need any 1/2 measures...
 

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I move my basic gateway computer from the house to the truck and have a $120 printer that stays in the truck. No problem with heat or cold. I invoice when I finish the job and collect on the spot. Once I have the customers info in there the invoicing is a snap.
 

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I use the ipad for field service. There is a program or "App" if you will called IDispatcher. It was the only one out at the time I got it in August. It is great and there have already been some great upgrades for it. I would like it if I could customize it more myself, but hopefully in the future with more updates it may be possible. You can also email the invoice directly to the customer. I like the ipad because it links right up with my iphone 4 and my Mac Book Pro. It works for me.
 

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How much did you pay for them? I see them from Motorola partners in the $2,200+ range.

For that kind of money, I think I would be more inclined to go with the Panasonic Toughbook offering with standard operating systems rather than Windows Mobile.

http://www.panasonic.com/business/toughbook/toughbook-products.asp

I'm just not sure the cool factor of mobile computing justify the costs. The only real benefit I've seen is being able to have every catalog and/or repair manual imaginable at your fingertips on the job without having a physical library in the cab. I also not convinced this level of expense is offset by being able to eliminate hand written invoices. Not saying it's bad, just not sure it's worth $2K+ to me.

Of course, no matter how durable the unit is, there will be that inevitable, "HOW DID YOUR LAPTOP END UP IN THE CITY SEWER MAIN!?!? :furious:" moment. You just know something bad is bound to happen with a tool that touchy. Heck, sometimes we struggle keeping them working in an office.:yes:
We went with these because they are compatible with Successware21, our software of choice. We have elinminated paper invoices and the need to enter paper invoices into the system back at the office. This has eliminated one position in the accounting department. No more having to figure out technician handwriting either. We also get a better credit card rate because we are now able to swipe the credit card.

Our 15 techs (13 techs with (2) two man crews) no longer have to call in and debrief after a call and recieve their next call. Less time on hold and less time the dispatchers and CSR's have to spend on the phone with the techs; more time talking to customers.

Also, after hours, the techs can see before they leave their home who has a service agreement, who may have a balance with us that needs to be paid or who is "no more service". It allows them to see all the customers service history too. It eliminated the need to have a manager in the on-call rotation to dispatch calls.

We can text, email or call them on the device. Not only are they able to scan parts off the truck, but they can scan tasks right out of flat rate book which has every task bar coded. They have every repair manual at their figer tips and all the contact information of all suppliers and manufacturers they could need.

The devices, all the accessories, set-up fees and training came to around 35K. There is a $60/mo. credit card fee for all 13 units total, plus $55/mo per unit for a grand total of $775/mo. total.

We will recover hard costs in 8 months. The soft costs such as increased productivity from the technicians and office personnel make it an absolute winner for us.

For us, there is no down side.

Just the elimination of one person in the accounting department saves over 40k a year alone. We actually moved that person into HR and she is now our HR Generalist, a position that would have cost us 45k/yr or more to fill.
 

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Can you guys post some pics of how you install/mount the computer in the van/truck.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
We use this:
http://www.motorola.com/Business/US...obile+Computers/Handheld+Computers/MC75_US-EN

We can scan credit cards, look up customer files, inventory, price book, email, text, internet, GPS, bar code scanning, etc. Pretty much anything a Droid can do and more.

We do not use portable printers. We email the invoice to the customer. If they insist, which is hardly ever, we'll fill out an invoice. We just don't see a need for a printer.

We have 13 of these being used in the field.

Ipad just isn't there yet.
That is impressive. With Sucessware 21... You are in a league of your own. Setting that all up was no small task. You are probably running at much higher efficiency levels. Paper work can bog a company down especially when one grows to your size. What many of us don't realize is that if the tech does his or her own work (on a smartphone, or computer or whatever) then there does not have to be backup office support. With paper office staff has to grow. I have been watching the ipad... there is a nice piece of software available but it has to be developed. Quickbooks Pro 2011 supposedly runs on an ipad remotely allowing field service invoicing that syncs with the office desktop version. It is called Intuit Quickbooks connect.
 

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That is impressive. With Sucessware 21... You are in a league of your own. Setting that all up was no small task. You are probably running at much higher efficiency levels. Paper work can bog a company down especially when one grows to your size. What many of us don't realize is that if the tech does his or her own work (on a smartphone, or computer or whatever) then there does not have to be backup office support. With paper office staff has to grow. I have been watching the ipad... there is a nice piece of software available but it has to be developed. Quickbooks Pro 2011 supposedly runs on an ipad remotely allowing field service invoicing that syncs with the office desktop version. It is called Intuit Quickbooks connect.
I could have never done it on my own. I have a great staff that worked tirelessly setting it up.

The way information technology is growing it'll get easier to get into place.

Good luck to you.
 

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I see the benefit of having extra resources in the hands of plumbers in the field. But, I also see a downside.

Do they have access to just the customer they are currently serving or do they have unlimited access to your customer database? Could they feasibly copy the information and use it to start their own business with your customer list?

Is there a concern that the laptop might be lost or end up in the hands of your competitor?

What protections do you have in place so that the customers private information does not end up being used for other purposes?
 

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If you do something like Logmein.com you can control your office desktop from the ipad. That way you don't need an app on your ipad for quickbooks. It seems to me like the way to go
 

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Discussion Starter #18
PlumbCrazy said:
I see the benefit of having extra resources in the hands of plumbers in the field. But, I also see a downside.

Do they have access to just the customer they are currently serving or do they have unlimited access to your customer database? Could they feasibly copy the information and use it to start their own business with your customer list?

Is there a concern that the laptop might be lost or end up in the hands of your competitor?

What protections do you have in place so that the customers private information does not end up being used for other purposes?
Good points, all can be dealt with however.
 

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