“For us to maintain low costs and high customer satisfaction while providing improved response times, we need a better, faster way to resolve issues beyond dispatching onsite technicians,” explains Mark Hessinger, Executive Director of Worldwide Service at Gerber Scientific. Gerber faces a continuous need to train new personnel as they are brought into the service organization. A change in strategy for service allows Gerber to build a stronger technical support organization and a more efficient process to bring new field service engineers up to speed. “We have a lot of tenured employees in North America and Europe,” observes Hessinger. “In seven years, the loss of man years will accelerate, so we need to retain product knowledge before it becomes a greater issue and impacts our customers.” Hessinger and his team realized that they needed a solution to remotely connect to their products and identify, diagnose, and resolve issues. Ideally this would happen before their customers even become aware of a problem, reducing the dispatch of onsite technicians or improving first-time fix rates when onsite visits are required. By collecting data from their products deployed in production, the company could begin addressing the aging workforce issue by capturing and retaining information. Collecting information on consumables and parts could automate consumable resupply, optimize spare parts inventory, and enable Gerber to provide true preventive maintenance. “We do not have mean time between failure data because we don’t know how many hours our customers are actually using our products,” says Hessinger. “Some customers use our products a few hours a day, while others use them 24/7. Obtaining actual usage data will help us better plan our spare parts and the consumables required for run times.” Other capabilities identified to help build a business case for their initiative included minimizing product downtime, automating software patch distribution, offering value-added services, providing engineering with product usage data, and delivering remote training on product capabilities for distributors and new technicians.
Gerber Technology, a business unit of Gerber Scientific, Inc., develops and manufactures the world’s leading brands of integrated software and hardware automation systems for the sewn products and flexible materials industries. These systems automate and significantly improve the efficiency of information management, product design and development, and pre-production and production processes. The company offers specialized solutions to a variety of end-user markets including apparel, aerospace, transportation interiors, furniture, composites, and industrial fabrics.
To get to market quicker, Hessinger and his team decided to buy a solution rather than build one. By choosing PTC® Axeda® software, Gerber was able to quickly implement their smart solutions. “We chose PTC Axeda because their Softwareas-a-Service (SaaS) solution would get us to market fast,” says Hessinger. “We felt confident that we could connect to a range of products while ensuring safety, security, and compliance.” Gerber Scientific uses PTC Axeda software to drive its next-generation service delivery model, branded as GERBERconnect™. Gerber Technology is the first to offer the GERBERconnect solution, initially rolling out the offering to customers of their GERBERcutter ® XLc7000 and Z7 automated cutting machines. GERBERconnect enables Hessinger’s team to monitor its customers’ machines and detect problems before they interrupt production. GERBERconnect enables Gerber’s cutters to “call home” when potential errors are sensed. Gerber technicians then remotely and securely access a customer’s system for further proactive fault detection and troubleshooting.