Many maintenance personnel, facility managers, engineers, inspectors and architectsare performing their maintenance, inspections, service activities and daily tasks using manual, paper-based forms.
Applying appropriate technology and providing simple-to-use automation tools can increase productivity, improve utilisation of resources and reduce operating costs. By combining sophisticated, yet easy to use software with handheld devices, organizations can save time and money while improving operational efficiencies and minimising downtime.
Mobile devices (PDAs, tablets, mobile phones)
Mobile devices should provide information that already exists on paper forms or on the desktop, and at the same time improve one’s ability to access the data.
For example, if a user fills out a monthly inspection work order providing specific information, the handheld device should fulfil the same function.
A handheld user can pick from a list of possible choices and/or write or type in information. Handheld devices make current, past, and future information accessible and easy to use.
Handheld devices specifically designed for maintenance, inspection, and repair activities, should deliver the following functionalities:
- List all information required by building inspectors, technicians, engineers, and maintenance personnel to perform their tasks.
- Provide easy to use navigation, search capabilities and quick access to information.
- Automatically track and manage equipment and inventory.
- Automatically track labour and apply it to timesheets.
- Enable technicians to record recommendations and/or create new corrective work orders.
- Audit and asset tracking.
- Produce reports or invoices as required using portable printers.
- Handheld devices can provide the user with historical information pertaining to previous service orders.
Furthermore, barcodes, timestamps and scanners attached to the handheld devices permit quick identification of equipment, improve efficiency, and minimise vulnerability to human errors.
Handheld applications should also be designed to reduce the amount of data entry and keystrokes required by incorporating a variety of techniques, starting from pick lists, through check boxes, to look-up lists and automatically generated results and shortcuts. Minimising the amount of data entry that the end user has to perform is recommended to improve speed, accuracy, efficiency, ease of use and cost.
Finally, handheld software should be able to run on multiple hardware platforms, providing flexibility and utilisation of future technology without avoidable and costly software upgrades.
The desktop / database / server
The desktop/server application should provide a variety of operational and management functions such as:
- Work Order Manager: Record, track, manage, report, and analyse a variety of work orders and activities. Provide users with access to historical information, search engines, and trend analysis capabilities.
- Scheduler: Using a Graphic User Interface (GUI), display schedules, workloads and forecasting for personnel and service managers.
- Equipment and Asset Tracker.
- Event-driven and Automated Escalation Procedures.
- The means of data transfer between handheld devices and the database can be through a standard cradle, wired modem, infrared, Bluetooth, or wireless communications. Data exchange with remote locations can be done via a wireless handheld device, vehicle cradle, SMS or email.
A web portal for users, customers, or tenants, can enhance the application and allow end-users to enter work requests for approval by the appropriate personnel.
Combining Desktop/Server software, web portals, and handheld devices should deliver key business functionalities:
Plan and schedule maintenance, programmed maintenance, proactive, maintenance, inspection, repair, and service activities; Incorporate maintenance, inspections, ISO and regulation compliance and OH&S guidelines.
- Assign work to staff based on skills, time and geographical availabilities.
- Record details about service activities while reducing ‘key strokes’ and data entry.
- Retrieve and analyse information and produce operational and management reports.
- Set-up automatic alerts and triggers that notify of upcoming or missed activities, both through reports, emails and SMS.
- Record time allocated to each task and automatically produces timesheets and job costing.
- Use barcodes to improve data collection and processing.
- Automate re-occurring tasks so that when completed, new tasks are automatically created in the future, at the required time intervals.
- Improvement in operational efficiencies
- Increase in productivity and profitability
- Effective performance of activities
- Simplification of repeatable tasks
- Provision of easy-to-use tools that focus on performing tasks
- Improvement in strategic and business planning (analysing records, needs and patterns)