One such case is the Integrated Service Design research project developed in collaboration with its Faculty of Engineering following the design thinking approach. This is a methodology focussing on the individual, originally adopted by designers to meet consumer needs while respecting economic and other constraints in business. By learning how to integrate what is humanly desirable with what is technologically feasible and economically viable, designers would then be able to satisfy consumer needs.
According to this view, to be able to generate successful innovative projects a balance is to be maintained between the three following factors: desirability (what makes an object appealing to potential buyers), profitability (how the idea generated supports the company’s business mode) and feasibility (what is functionally possible to realize).
So Integrated Service Design is an innovative method of designing services that complements the functional and operating component with the final user experience, where integration reflects:
1. the ability to arrange the provision of different kinds of services so as to make them complementary and gain a mutual competitive advantage;
2. the harmonious working together of the buyer and supplier (two distinct but interdependent organizations) through close coordination of their activities;
3. the extent to which different areas, departments, organizational or operational units of a company succeed in integrating their competencies into a unified organic whole.
Integrated Service Design helps improve services (and create new ones) by making them more useful, usable, desirable and efficient for their users, more engaging and gratifying for the operators supplying them, but above all more effective and distinctive for the organizations offering them. For the design of its integrated services, Coopservice uses sophisticated simulation software (Any Logic, Eventi Discreti, System Dinamic, Agenti Autonomi) and process templates (warehouse goods handling template, inpatient transport template, hospital cleaning cloth sanitisation template).
Services designed following the Life Cycle Thinking approach
By virtue of the adoption of Life Cycle Thinking as a methodology for designing its services, first of all in the hygiene and sanitisation sector, and thanks to the extensive experimentation done, Coopservice - the first among services providers - has a strategic approach to the market that can be considered genuinely ‘green’ and has anticipated European environmental regulations.
We take responsibility for observing these regulations while taking full account of specific customer needs, be it cleaning a hospital, a manufacturing or a food-processing plant. The peculiarity of the Life Cycle Thinking approach followed by Coopservice consists in making every single phase of the service life cycle more and more environmentally friendly, since any service-related activity can be designed, analysed, provided, used, maintained or ceased in line with specific environmental policies.
Service life cycle and value produced/environmental impact ratio
Commonly, four different phases can be distinguished in the life cycle of a service.
The first phase is conception, which requires consulting with the customer to identify their peculiarities and possible environmental requirements.
These are essential preconditions for the next phase, i.e. design, which includes the capability of creating prototypes and experimenting with original work methods to assess their environmental viability.
Finalization or production is the phase where a service is finally implemented. In the fourth and last phase, i.e. use and related services, the customer/user is constantly informed on the factors prompting a company to change some of its procedures in order to reduce environmental impact.
Coopservice considers eco-efficiency to be the ratio between the value produced and environmental impact, obtained by measuring the following parameters:
1. the reduction in the exploitation of resources;
2. the reduction in the use of energy;
3. the reduction in the dispersion of potentially toxic substances;
4. the increase of recycling possibilities;
5. the extension of a product’s usable life;
6. the use of renewable sources;
7. the extension of the service offerings.
La norma di riferimento per quanto riguarda la fase di progettazione è la ISO 14062 (Design for environment). Una norma che si focalizza sulla necessità di analizzare gli aspetti ambientali durante l'intero ciclo di vita del servizio. Con l'obiettivo di sviluppare in corso di progettazione un equilibrio tra il mantenimento degli standard competitivi di prezzo, qualità e performance e la relativa sostenibilità ambientale.
The goods handling process has been modelled in a warehouse subdivided into three macro-areas, according to the arrangement of the goods on the shelves and their handling methods (pallet area managed using forklift trucks; automated area managed via automated storage and retrieval systems; manual area managed via floor operators).
Each area is characterized by a certain amount of available resources and an hourly productivity index. The unit of measurement for the goods moved is the handling order line. Together, the lines make up the order (an average of 9 lines is assumed for each order). The handling request arrival frequency is regulated by a probability function acting on the total number of daily requests (which is set to an average value for every day in a week). The time unit corresponding to a simulation step is the hour and the warehouse operating time is defined based on the 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. interval (Mondays to Fridays) or the 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. interval (on Saturdays).
The warehouse area involved in every handling process is determined probabilistically based on historical data. The goal of the simulation is to effectively dimension the warehouse internal resources by assessing the system’s behaviour with respect to incoming request peaks.
The goal of this model is to analyse the occurrence of unladen patient transports in a hospital by comparing a realistic situation with two improvement situations, where the number of unladen transports is reduced by 10% and 15% respectively.
These optimisations are assumed to be realisable with the introduction of a monitoring tool that can signal a patient’s actual transportability (e.g. a system informing the transport operating unit about a patient’s condition). This line of reasoning is made possible by a series of abstractions and assumptions that must be defined at the modelling stage. More specifically, each transport request can be considered as a concatenated process made up of the outward journey to, and the subsequent return journey from a hospital ward. Between these two phases there are the internal activities of each ward, which are subject to a service time that varies depending on the possible incoming queues due to unexpected events (e.g. the unscheduled arrival of a patient in critical condition).
Therefore, it can be concluded that an unladen transport only occurs during the return journeys from a ward, since the service time variability is the only factor that can cause one. So, by including a monitoring tool at the exit from a ward, the need for transport can be requested and, potentially, the operators’ wait time can be eliminated, thus preventing unladen transports. The improvement that would be possible with the aid of the two optimisation solutions described above can be obtained by adopting the monitoring tool in a number of wards large enough as to make the aggregate figure of unladen transports comparable, in quantitative terms, to the extent of the improvement achieved in a real situation.
The transport request arrival is defined by a table with the hourly arrival frequencies, which, in turn, is defined based on a historical data series. Also, the transport request arrival is quantitatively regulated by the hospital bed capacity, which, in turn, determines the total number of daily transports (historical data). The total simulation execution time is set to 648 hours, corresponding to 27 workdays, to best approximate the transport activities on a monthly basis.
This third model compares various washing and drying processes for the microfibre cloths used to wash and dust surfaces in hospital wards and corridors, based on energy, water and detergent consumption and on CO2 emissions. 4 washing and drying configurations have been modelled. Each configuration is characterized by some loading capacity associated with the washing machines and by a specific washing programme.
The process is shown in the detailed descriptions of the washing programme activities, each of which contributes to increasing consumption and CO2 emissions (if energy is used to heat water). The goal of the simulation is to quantify the necessary resources in each of the 4 configurations (in terms of the number of washing/drying machines required), indicating the saturation level in each of them (a usage percentage based on the total simulation time), and to calculate the annual consumption for each of them.
The quantity of cloths to be washed daily, the number of daily working hours, the initial temperature of the water used by the washing machines and the amount of CO2 emissions (in grammes) for producing 1 KWh power can all be changed. The total simulation execution time is equal to the number of daily working hours set as input. All output data are calculated on an annual basis.
The Information System that Dialogues with Customers
Coopservice has redesigned its IT tools with open-source web architectures to create Pant@, a system that makes it possible to optimise and monitor, both upstream and downstream, the service provision processes in the case of complex procurement contracts.It is a totally innovative system that has a modular structure as far as the single services provided are concerned, but it features a portal that serves as a common interface for all the services. It is an essential resource to ensure uniqueness of governance and enable the customer to rapidly access all the information concerning the procurement, the internal services and the services supplied by other providers (using a temporary joint venture or project financing).
Through the Services Portal, the customer can easily obtain summary and detailed information on service quality, generated automatically via targeted imports from the databases of the management applications used, and also consult and update, via web protocols, the intervention requests and the data relating to service billing and monitoring.
Moreover, special query and reporting features can be used to create, print and export the information consulted. And last but not least, the majority of modules are made using open-source products such as Liferay, Alfresco, Pentaho and Mysql databases to protect and make the information assets generated over the contract term available to the customer, with no additional costs. And thanks to its configuration, the various applications can be dragged into the Services Portal to customize its graphical interface according to customer needs.
Data exchange is guaranteed via backend interfaces and web services (also using the HL7 standard) allowing integration with the customer’s business processes by means of standard communication protocols.
Communications between systems are guaranteed using the best safety and monitoring technologies available on the market today, in compliance with international regulations. The Pant@ system incudes various modules that are integrated into the Services Portal, which has been designed to be easy and intuitive to navigate.
Some of the modules are listed below:
- documental module;
- human resource and operations scheduling and accounting module;
- contact centre module; •facility and maintenance management module;
- analysis and reporting module;
- property registering module;
- pre-billing module;
- energy module;
- environment and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) module.