How the Mobile Device is Improving the Maintenance Workers Role
The maintenance worker is a critical part of an organizations efforts to keep assets healthy and efficient. Workers are responsible for not only performing maintenance work, but also documenting it as well. Well documented maintenance work provides an immense amount of value to a business. It allows businesses to evaluate how well (or poorly) they’ve been operating and make changes to how they perform maintenance work if needed. Regulatory compliance also heavily relies on detailed and accurate records of maintenance work as well.
A natural side effect of this is that capturing detailed maintenance information means that workers will spend a decent amount of time filling out paperwork. If they have access to maintenance software, then they can speed the process up some by using a terminal located somewhere in their facility. Even still, this is not a particularly time efficient solution since workers will only have access to software if they are close to a terminal.
Mobile technology has the potential to change this if used correctly. Placing tablets in the hands of workers that are actively performing maintenance allows them to become much more productive throughout their day. So how exactly does this change the way a maintenance worker approaches their job?
One of the most noticeable benefits is that there is less paperwork involved. Smartphones and tablets have many features like barcode scanners, cameras, microphones and more. These features can significantly streamline how work is documented. Instead of carrying around forms or waiting until you reach a computer back in the shop, a tablet allows you to instantly update work orders, inspection checklists, or other task related records.
Not only are paper documents eliminated, but a tablet can make the process of documenting work easier as well. For example, instead of having to write out detailed descriptions of work performed, you can simply dictate your actions to the tablet and have it convert your words into a text description that is saved as a part of the work order completion details. Inspections can be updated as you go with a few taps on the tablets screen, allowing you to record information quickly and easily.
Access to More Information
Any organization that has a wide range of physical assets will also have a wide range of maintenance activities. And even workers who are very familiar with your assets will need to consult manuals or other documents from time to time. When these documents are required is anyone’s guess, it could be a quick refresher on torque specs or to verify safety procedures. In any case, access to these documents comes at a premium sometimes. If you’re in a more remote location, you can either drive back to where they are located or call someone and have them find the information you are looking for.
With a mobile solution, you have access to all information related to the asset(s) you are working on. With a few taps of the screen, you can see manuals, safety procedures, schematics, or other information needed to successfully perform maintenance. All without ever having to leave your current work site.
The end goal of using mobile devices in your operations is to improve productivity. This means giving your workforce ways to accomplish more work during their shifts. That’s not to say that these devices will speed up the time it takes to perform a task because they are still limited by the nature of work being performed and the expertise of the technician. Unless equipment becomes substantially easier to manage there will be no real gains in efficiency for this aspect of maintenance.
But these devices can provide a significant reduction in the amount of time it takes to perform all the support work that goes into completing a maintenance task. For example, imagine a single technician armed with a tablet can reduce the amount of time they spend completing a task simply because they can press a few buttons on a screen and move on. This hour can now be spent performing maintenance work instead of having to fill out paperwork.
This single hour might seem small, but it provides greater returns the more a device is used. One hour turns into 5 hours a week (a large portion of an 8-hour shift), which in turn becomes 20 or more hours in a month, and up to 30 shifts per year. All because the technician saves an hour on documenting their tasks. Now take this figure and multiply it by your total number of technicians you place in the field every day and you have a huge amount of time that’s been freed up to complete important work.