Lessons Learned #1: Improving CBRNE Equipment Readiness

Editor’s Note: This article is the first in an occasional series on the lessons we’ve learned over more than a decade of providing and optimizing technical support for some of the largest CBRNE response organizations in the United States.

How do you improve CBRNE Readiness?

Keep equipment in the hands of responders, ready to perform when called upon. Seems pretty simple, right? It should be a no-brainer, yet the response community consistently expresses frustration with how frequently their mission critical equipment is out for service and disappointment with how long that process can take.

Q: How do you keep equipment in the hands of responders and ready for action?

A: Avoid sending equipment away for minor repairs!

After compiling years of data about our own technical support requests, we’ve discovered a simple statistic that may surprise you. And, it could help to improve your readiness.

60% of CBRNE detector problems can be resolved on site by the RESPONDER.

KD Analytical has fielded thousands of support requests over that past 12 years. We keep meticulous records of our technical support efforts—the nature of the problem, if and how it was resolved, the root cause of the problem, replacement parts used, and so on. This extensive documentation is made possible through the use of ReadiTrak™, which we developed for the purpose of tracking and maintaining CBRNE equipment that we support.

When we analyzed all this tech support data, one thing really stood out: approximately 60% of CBRNE detector problems can be resolved by the end user with only telephone or web-based technical support. This means that the majority of instrument problems can be resolved quickly with only readily available tools and no specialized technical skills on the part of the end user. It also means that the equipment doesn’t have to leave the responder’s station, base or garrison. The benefits are clear:

  • Downtime is reduced drastically, often from a period of weeks or months to mere minutes or hours.
  • Maintenance costs are reduced. When the instrument is repaired on site by the responder, shipping costs, bench fees, and many other costs associated with sending the instrument out for repair can be avoided.
  • Responders learn how to resolve common problems themselves, gaining a better understanding of their instruments and developing skills that they can apply to similar issues.

Robust and responsive technical support is the key

We know from experience that when an instrument exhibits problems that can’t be immediately fixed, the item is often simply tossed in an equipment cage and left for dead. That’s a costly outcome in terms of both readiness and dollars. Instead, when a user encounters an issue, they need—and should expect—the fastest possible resolution. We’ll look further into how this can be achieved in our next Lessons Learned article.

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