Mobitex Technology - Solutions - Case study

AAA Auto Clubs, USA

Snowy New England winters are trying for motorists who depend on their AAA Auto Clubs to help them when they get stuck. For AAA, whose dispatch center needed to handle more than 2,000 calls a day, voice dispatching had become a frustrating bottleneck. Mentor Engineering and a Mobitex digital dispatching solution helped AAA eliminate the bottlenecks. No one can do anything about the weather, but New England motorists are at least getting help much faster.

Digital dispatching eliminates bottlenecks

AAA Auto Clubs strive to give their members the highest level of service, responding quickly to distress calls and promptly meeting needs once on site. For many AAA clubs in the U.S. and Canada, a mobile data solution featuring Mentor Engineering's Express Mobile Data Terminals (MDTS) and Mobitex, the U.S. public data network is helping put stranded AAA motorists back on the road faster, though not necessarily under their own steam.

Frustrating bottlenecks
A recent Mentor installation on the Mobitex network was at AAA Massachusetts. Winters in Boston can be brutal on cars and it's at those times when Boston AAA's dispatch room heats up with customer roadservice calls. According to Sue Albrecht, Program Coordinator, on particularly inclement days the daily log of calls would increase from 2000 to near 5000.

"At times like these our voice dispatching created a bottleneck. It was frustrating for both the dispatchers and the drivers, not to mention our customers," Albrecht said.

Drivers sometimes had to wait for new calls and if they received voice messages when they were on the road they had to pull over to the side to write down the information.

Back at the office dispatchers were having to juggle two phones, a computer screen and impatient drivers and customers.

"It was just an unacceptable situation," said Albrecht "Internally it was costing us an extra hour a day and customer service levels just weren't where we wanted them."

Digital dispatching
In June 1995, AAA Massachusetts decided that the solution to these bottlenecks lay in digital dispatching. They did their homework and decided that Mentor's Express MDTs would best suit their needs.

AAA Massachusetts liked the functionality of the terminal as well as its compactness and simple training regiments. Today, out of a fleet of 350 contracted trucks, 101 are equipped with MDTS. The system uses Ericsson C719 Mobidem radios in all the vehicles.

Albrecht noted that at first the drivers still tended to rely on voice communication. She said they soon, however, advanced quickly up the learning curve, and were, on the whole, very happy with the new system.

"We're very happy with the Mentor product" Albrecht said. "I'd recommend digital dispatching to any other auto dub that was having congestion on their voice lines."

AAA Massachusetts decided that the Mentor products and RAM would integrate with the D/2000 Computer Aided Dispatch system supported by Neal Duff, Director of Business Systems at AAA National. "The reasons AAA Massachusetts used Mobitex were quite simple," stated Duff. "Their old channels in the Boston area were already congested and no new space was available. They looked at other public data networks but none of them offered RAM's coverage. Furthermore, RAM offered an airtime rate that dropped as the number of MDTs increased."

Radical improvement
Data dispatch radically improves communications between the fleet vehicle and dispatch center. Specific benefits include freeing up the voice channel for exception reporting, response time, real time information and dispatch efficiency and automatically pinpointing vehicles (AVL), generating invoices and eliminating radio noise.

The Express MDT comes complete with context sensitive function keys, quick keys, store and forward capability and macros. It also allows for options to accommodate a full range of personalized preferences, such as display layout, data entry fields and priority job sorting. Mentor's Express Gateway module provides the interface between the host application and the Mobitex network.

According to Duff the chief benefit of mobile data is the ability to respond to each members calls an average of six minutes faster than before. Net results - customer service is improved. And with Auto Clubs that's the bottom line.

Mentor Engineering is continuing to provide mobile data solution solutions utilizing the RAM public data network. Currently they are in the process of implementing several AAA installs.

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