Mobility becomes a competitive advantage in plants

Mobile devices enable technicians to complete tasks and record notes directly at the machines they are maintaining and repairing.
By Alexandra Altvater, Dude Solutions April 10, 2017

Mobile devices enable technicians to complete tasks and record notes directly at the machines they are maintaining and repairing. Courtesy: Chris Vavra, CFE MediaBy offering increased flexibility and accessibility, mobile devices play a key role in helping manufacturers compete in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. The use of mobile devices offers manufacturing technicians and managers quick availability to important data, helping meet maintenance and operations demands on the manufacturing floor faster and with additional value.

For the simplest to the most complex maintenance operations, mobile devices enable technicians to complete tasks and record notes directly at the machines they are maintaining and repairing. In fact, technicians who use mobile devices to access equipment maintenance data are reporting more frequently and with higher accuracy than without their tablets and phones. They can also track their work, view it and record it.

Using phones and tablets to access, analyze and report on-work assignments can drive key advantages for manufacturers.

Efficiency benefits

According to manufacturing client data at Dude Solutions, using mobile devices helped generate a 300% increase in added work orders, completed work and completed data forms.

Access to maintenance checklists at the equipment location lets technicians quickly update the status of tasks. They also can retrieve instructions and diagrams on their devices, eliminating any need for printed documents. The real-time visibility of a mobile platform ensures that problems are solved faster without administrative lag.

Minimizing Errors

Entering real-time data means technicians’ reports are more accurate and more data is entered with fewer errors. Real-time problems can now be answered with real-time solutions. For example, technicians can take a picture of a damaged part that needs to be replaced and record the problem immediately.

The technicians also can record information and other notes, without needing to write it down or remember it at the end of the day. Technicians also have access to the latest instruction manuals, material safety data sheet documentation and training materials.

Cost savings

Mobile devices can help organizations achieve a more significant return on investment, as they are very affordable and allow for more efficient equipment and labor monitoring.

For example, if technicians can simply swipe tablets to begin their time and swipe again to stop their time, they can record exact labor hours and labor monitoring reports. This makes it easier for an employer to track time spent on each piece of equipment but it also saves a lot of time that technicians previously would have spent on their computers or with manual log sheets. It also can increase the willingness of employees to track their time.

Once disabled equipment is operating again, this can be communicated to all stakeholders, guaranteeing there is no delay in using equipment due to communication processes.

Critical data

Data is an important part of how organizations assess their operational health and identify continued success and areas for improvement. Mobile devices make it extremely easy to collect precise data. Combine that accurate data with a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) that simplifies and centralizes the process of gathering, storing, and analyzing data, and intelligent operations is a day-to-day reality.

Critical insights can be made on preventive maintenance (PM) compliance and equipment failure reasons, and the correlation between the two. For example, the data could show that implementing a PM program could save thousands of dollars per year by preventing electrical failures.

Mobile platforms developed specifically for manufacturing yield the best results for manufacturing organizations, as those platforms are in tune with tracking relevant trends and metrics. This includes the cost of equipment downtime and the comparative performance of specific lines or plants.

Cloud-based opportunities

When using a mobile platform, cloud-based solutions are often the easiest, most affordable and quickest way to go mobile. Cloud-based solutions offer secure, high-performing platforms regardless of the device or operating system used-whether that is accessing an app on a personal device or utilizing corporate-issued devices.

Cloud-based solutions also do not require IT expertise or the purchase of software or servers, which can lead to cost savings. Systems should allow for unlimited users, ensuring the system can scale over time without the added expense of paying for additional licenses.

Businesses and consumers have realized the value of mobility in the way they access, analyze and interact with data. The manufacturing world is no different. Flexibility is critical on today’s manufacturing floors, and mobile platforms can provide the flexibility needed to support these organizations as well as their customers.

Alexandra Altvater is manufacturing industries manager for Dude Solutions.