"This wireless solution is a first in the automotive industry," said Mark Palmer, GM senior project engineer. "By having wireless computers at the point of service -- meaning under the hood of every automobile being serviced -- technicians gain extraordinary time savings and ease of use. This increases overall productivity and cost savings for GM and its dealers."

With this system, service technicians at GM dealers can access the most current service manuals on line, including troubleshooting information, service procedures, recall information and product service bulletins. Instead of queuing up to pore through massive paper manuals, technicians are each equipped with their own wireless, touch-screen handheld computers that look up information via a Web browser. The solution saves time, increases productivity and profitability for the dealership and improves service to customers.

"Using this wireless network, service technicians are empowered to access mission-critical information systems immediately, from anywhere in the shop," said Bruce Minale, vice president product sales for Fujitsu-ICL. "And because the data is maintained centrally on the corporate mainframe, dealers can be sure that their technicians always have access to the most up-to-date information."

Historically, GM offered paper service manuals to its dealerships. The company now employs a PC-based system, through which technicians accessed information via a collection of CD-ROMs. Many dealerships, however, have only one computer available to their team of technicians, making it difficult for technicians to access up-to-date repair information quickly.

Now GM has made these manuals available through its corporate extranet, a secure Internet site available only to authorized users. And through this first-of-a-kind solution, technicians can use their handheld computers to find specific repair information at their individual workstations without waiting in line.

As part of the solution, collaboratively developed by GM and SPX Corp., Fujitsu-ICL provides Fujitsu TeamPad 7500 handheld computers which communicate via wireless local area network with a Fujitsu TeamServer on site. The TeamPad unit features a large, color touch-screen user interface and radio frequency (RF) support. The highly scalable TeamServer can expand to support the requirements of the largest dealerships by adding processors.

When a service technician looks up specific repair or product information, the wireless computer communicates the query to the local server via RF. The server accesses the GM extranet to obtain the information, which is then transmitted back to the handheld unit.

The handheld solution provides technicians with information at their fingertips saving time and improving quality of repair. This results in better service for consumers, as well as additional revenue for dealerships and service technicians, who are able to perform a larger number of jobs each day.

Technicians can use the wireless device under the car, under the hood or in the interior. On the screen, they can view complete service manuals that include detailed diagrams and technical graphics. With the system's advanced hot-spotting capabilities, users can zoom in and out, rotate images and focus in on particular areas of interest. Eventually, technicians will be able to view video clips detailing particular repairs and service techniques.

The system has been tested at the GM corporate repair facility in Warren, Mich., and several dealerships in the Detroit area.

Dealers can obtain the system through the GM Dealer Equipment program. The Kent-Moore Electronic Service Manual (ESM) is available to GM's 8,700 dealerships in the United States, which employ about 100,000 service technicians.

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