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Voice of Users

Integrated Nationwide Service Request and Assignment System

Customer : Japan Automobile Federation (JAF)

Bringing more effective communication, the Toughbook has enabled more reassuring and rapid roadside response to stranded drivers.

For flat batteries, keys locked in cars, flat tires, and all the other sudden problems that may interrupt a journey by car, all over Japan, 24 hours a day, strong support is just a phone call away. This roadside service is provided by JAF (the Japan Automobile Federation). With its sturdy design, used a patrol vehicle PC, the Toughbook CF-19 provides daily support for all of JAF’s roadside patrol staff.

Reassurance, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year: Japan’s largest roadside service organization

Mr. Ken Sakaue, Head of Roadside Services Kansai Regional Headquarters.

Mr.Takeshi Sakaue, Head of Roadside Services Kansai Regional Headquarters. “The introduction of the Toughbook has opened many possibilities for future development.”

As a public service corporation, JAF has gone forward with various initiatives to improve the safety and confidence of car users. For example, the call-out service it started in 1963 is the largest roadside service in Japan. Annually, JAF responds with about 2.6 million assistance dispatches (2008 figure).

According to Mr.Takeshi Sakaue, Head of Roadside Services at the Kansai Regional Headquarters, JAF is committed to “Providing prompt and proper roadside assistance that gives the highest priority to the three safeties: customer safety,’ passer-by and other ‘third party safety,’ and ‘patrol crew safety.’”

As of March 2009, JAF had 17.24 million members. Covering the whole of Japan, on constant standby 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, operating out of 270 bases, JAF has 1,277 service vehicles that are ready to immediately proceed to anywhere that roadside assistance is required.

Able to withstand the rough field environment, Toughbook got the nod

At the roadside, a portable printer is used to issue service slips created on the Toughbook. Since it has Bluetooth, no cable is required.

At the roadside, a portable printer is used to issue service slips created on the Toughbook. Since it has Bluetooth, no cable is required.

From FY 2001, assisted by Nichibei Denshi Co., Ltd., JAF went ahead with building a new system that linked all their offices and bases in an emergency call out network that integrates service request, assignment, and patrol vehicle procedures. Thrown into frontline operation, the choice for the patrol vehicle mobile PC was the Toughbook CF-19.

JAF had previously used handy terminals in their vehicles, but now they wanted to display map data and other types of information. Consequently, for the new system, the system developers looked into the possibility of introducing mobile PCs. After comparing competing products, including PCs made by different companies, they concluded that the Toughbook was optimal.

“Bearing in mind the punishing environment, including the vibration and heat of patrol vehicles, risk of dropping and other impacts, and likelihood of water and dust contamination at the roadside, what other choice is there but the Toughbook? Having Bluetooth on board for communicating with portable printers, and D-NAS III (communication unit) were also big pluses. (Mr.Sakaue)”

Efficient management of roadside service: Integrated Nationwide Service Request and Assignment System

Based on request information, the operations room assigns patrol cars.

Based on request information, the operations room assigns patrol cars.

Use of car navigation has greatly shortened assistance journey times.

Use of car navigation has greatly shortened assistance journey times.

Now let’s look at how this roadside-service system using the Toughbook actually works.

 

<Roadside service procedures>

At one of eight reception and assignment centers across Japan, via phone, fax or website request mail, a request for assistance is received from a customer.

(1) Reception
The incoming operator asks about the customer’s problem, and gets membership information, vehicle type, license plate number, and other information which is entered at the system terminal. An onscreen map is displayed and the customer’s current located is recorded. Moreover, by consulting information stored in the server, including a map centered on the customer’s location, providing safety advice, the operator lets the customer know about local risks such as expressway and special road conditions.

(2) Assignment
The location of each patrol vehicle is tracked in the operations room and its current operational status is monitored. Based on information arriving from reception, a decision is made on which patrol vehicle to send to which site of assistance. From an operations room terminal, the necessary information is then sent to the assigned vehicle.

(3) Roadside service
From the operations room, the Toughbook that each patrol vehicle is equipped with receives assistance-request information via the in-car D-NAS III (communications unit). Showing the location of the target vehicle, a local street map and a road map is displayed and navigation to the site begins.

After arrival on site, roadside assistance is provided. When completed, a service slip created on the Toughbook is printed and handed over to the customer.

Using this Integrated Nationwide Service Request and Assignment System all the work is managed in a smooth flow.

Integrated Nationwide Service Request and Assignment System

Splash-proof property ensures confident use even heavy downpours

Mr. Taro Kitahonjo, Roadside Assistance Technician, Kansai Branch.

Mr.Shotaro Kitamoto, Roadside Assistance Technician, Kansai Branch. “For use in the patrol vehicle, the tablet configuration is compact and easy to use.”

Since the new system including the Toughbook was introduced, the average time from receipt of request to arrival at roadside has been shortened by a minute.

This is just one of the remarkable results achieved. “All the received customer information is immediately made available to the roadside personnel, which enables greater efficiency. This allows more finely tuned service, including greater consideration of specific customer needs (Mr.Sakaue)”.

Everyone who has used the Toughbook at the roadside has appreciated its outstanding toughness.

For example, Roadside Assistance Technician Mr.Shotaro Kitamoto commented, “Almost as soon as the system was introduced, I was sent out to assist a customer in the pouring rain. I wasn’t sure about opening the Toughbook in the middle of the downpour, but when I did, it worked without any kind of problem. I was amazed.”

He also added, ”When you’re out on a job, you often have to put the PC down on the ground. The Toughbook isn’t like an ordinary mobile PC. You can confidently stick it on the ground without a second thought. The 10.4-inch panel is large enough for looking at maps, and the backlight is bright, outside in the sunlight you can clearly see what’s on the screen. Operation is also easy: to scroll the map, you stroke the touch panel. To input text, there’s the keyboard. Whatever you want to do is easy.”

When the new system was introduced there was some resistance to using the new equipment, but even the older personnel found the touch panel unexpectedly easy to use. Hardly anyone felt the need to ask questions about operation of the Toughbook. Everyone was soon using it smoothly and competently.

The portable printer for issuing service slips is carried in a holder worn over the shoulder. It communicates with the Toughbook via a wireless Bluetooth connection. Doing away with the nuisance of cabled connections has contributed to greater job efficiency.

Aiming at even greater safety and still better customer satisfaction

Now let’s look at how this roadside-service system using the Toughbook actually works.

“Working toward our goal of improved safety and customer satisfaction, the introduction of the Toughbook has given us real capability to add functionality and greatly widen the scope of our services (Mr.Sakaue).”

Looking to the future, through advances such as implementing on-the-spot payment by credit card, display of VICS (Vehicle Information and Communication System) traffic and travel information, and developing a systemfor daily monitoring of patrol vehicle operations and fault diagnosis, JAF is considering using the potential of the Toughbook to make further improvements to service and efficiency.

The Toughbook is sure to remain a dependable partner that all the personnel can depend on. That means it will continue to provide powerful support for the safety and confidence of Japanese drivers.

Customer
Japan Automobile Federation
Address
Jidosha Kaikan, 1-1-30 Shiba-daimon, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Homepage
http://www.jaf.or.jp
* Interviews conducted at JAF Kansai Regional Headquarters
 2-1-5 Nakahozumi,Ibaraki-sho,Osaka
For further information about our products, how to purchase them and more, please visit the website of your region.

Specification and configuration may vary depending on country. Accessories may vary depending on your mobile PC configuration.
Specifications subject to change without notice.
Consult a Panasonic sales office near you for more details and availability of integrated options.

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