Hippo CMMS

Benefits of Getting Technicians Mobile with CMMS Apps

By Jonathan Davis | June 22, 2020
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Maintenance has always been mobile. Technicians move around facilities, working on assets and equipment directly. There's no way to replace a worn fan belt from behind a desk. You can't fix a pump over a video conference call. That's why CMMS mobile apps make so much sense. Technology has caught up with how technicians have always worked, and with CMMS mobile apps the maintenance department can get more done, with fewer headaches. 

Older CMMS systems suffer from long gaps between when something happens and when it appears in the data. For example, a request comes in as a voicemail message or email, but the maintenance department can't do anything until they've manually entered it into the system. And even after a technician closes out the associated work order, the data in the system is stale until the tech is back at the office to hand in paperwork or manually update a spreadsheet.     

Update data in real time with CMMS mobile apps 

Mobile apps eliminate the traditional time lag. As soon as a manager assigns a new work order, techs can access it. And as soon as they close out, the CMMS database updates automatically. This real-time, zero-lag system helps with accuracy and efficiency. 

Improved accuracy 

The adage about data is true: garbage in, garbage out. The only way to have good data is to make sure you only put in good data. Mobile apps help with data quality because techs are entering information when it's still fresh in their mind. Instead of having to wait until they're back at the maintenance office, where they then rely on scribbled notes or their memory, techs can enter data as soon as they finish tasks. 

For the maintenance department, data accuracy is critical to long-term success. Bad data, even when it's only slightly inaccurate, has an accumulative negative effect. If the wrong dates are entered on preventive maintenance work orders, for example, the whole program shifts away from its carefully thought-out schedule. When techs enter that they used part A when they used part B, it throws off inventory levels, and future maintenance and repairs can suffer. Remember, techs look at an asset's maintenance and repair histories when troubleshooting. They're more likely to make mistakes when they have bad data about what worked in the past. 

Increased efficiency 

With a mobile app, techs can access their tasks on the go, without running back to the office to drop off paperwork or pick up their next assignments. Work orders within an app can be packed with information, including: 

  • Complete asset repair and maintenance histories 
  • Digital images, schematics, and O&M manuals 
  • Step-by-step instructions and customizable checklists 
  • Associated parts and materials   

Techs aren't wasting time running back to the office to pick up a part or manual. They're not walking around the facility trying to track down the last person who worked on an asset to ask them questions. They have everything they need to close out on their own.  

For the maintenance department, increasing time on wrench is critical for effective resource management. Departments are paying technicians the same amount per hour regardless of what they're doing. It costs the same to have a tech walk to the office between work orders as it does to have them actively repairing machinery. Mobile apps reduce the downtime between work orders, boosting productivity. You get more maintenance bang for your resource buck.

 

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Get more features with CMMS mobile apps 

Once installed, CMMS mobile apps tie in directly to the mobile device's features, increasing functionality. A good CMMS app can do things its desktop version simply can't. 

Scan barcodes to access complete asset data 

Skilled technicians already know a lot about the assets and equipment they maintain, but you don't want them wasting time trying to remember the last time they adjusted the fan belt or added lubricant. By scanning the barcodes on assets, techs have instant access to asset data, including: 

  • Complete maintenance and repair histories 
  • Digital images, schematics, and O&M manuals 
  • Associated parts and materials  

Having easy access to data frees up mental bandwidth, and techs can focus on the task in front of them. Less common, but also a great use case, barcode scanning helps when techs need to work on one of a group of assets. For example, they might have a work order to perform routine maintenance on one of three identical pumps. Because the pumps are located close to one another, it's hard to know which one to work on. By scanning each of the barcodes, the tech saves themselves from having to come back after accidentally working on the wrong asset. 

Send push notifications for quick communication 

When you need to contact someone and time is tight, you send a text message, not an email. People see emails only when they check for them, but thanks to push notifications, they see text messages right away. With CMMS mobile apps, getting a technician's attention is fast and easy. 

On good days, techs focus on preventive maintenance, systematically working through a list of scheduled PMs. But maintenance is always a little unpredictable, and push notifications help you quickly redistribute resources to tackle fast-shifting priorities.    

Upload pictures for virtual visual inspections 

A good CMMS software already has lots of digital images, including schematics and photographs. When techs use mobile apps, they can use the device's camera to upload pictures. After they've completed a work order, they can attach a picture of their work to request confirmation. The maintenance lead can then visually inspect the work virtually before approving it and remotely closing out the work order. 

Sync offline for maximum mobility 

Maintenance work is truly mobile, with technicians working everywhere from the top of wind turbines to the bottom of oil rigs. Many times, this means they're outside the range of Wi-Fi or even satellite connections, unable to connect to the Internet. CMMS mobile apps continue to function offline, and techs can still access work orders, add comments to tasks, and attach pictures. Once they're back online, apps can sync with the database, ensuring all the data is up to date. 

See fast ROI with CMMS mobile apps 

Good apps are easy to set up. If you have an existing account with a CMMS provider, technicians only need to download the app and log in. The whole process shouldn't take more than a few minutes. And remember, because the provider is looking after all the time-intensive IT work, the maintenance department gets to focus on assets and equipment, not data backups and software updates. Setup doesn't take a lot of time, and generally mobile devices don't take a lot of money. Often, techs simply download the app to their smartphones. They already carry all day, so it makes sense to use them for the app, too.  

Good mobile apps are also easy to learn. Because they're purpose-built for smaller screens, there's little visual clutter, making them easy to navigate. Less is on the screen, making it easier to find what you need. Younger technicians can usually learn to use them very quickly. They grew up using apps, and already understand their conventions. Think of it this way: if you switched to a new email provider, you could find and compose emails without any extra training. Where are the newest emails? At the top of the list. Where's the compose button? Top-left corner. It's the same for nearly every email account, making it easy to switch to a new one. 

For more experienced technicians, the ones more likely to resist every new technology, CMMS mobile apps are a small, gentle step. You're not asking them to sit behind a computer and generate business analytics reports on maintenance management software. Mobile apps have high adoption rates because they're a nice, non-threatening step between "tried-and-true" methods and more robust modern solutions. 

Next steps 

If your maintenance department doesn't have a CMMS mobile app or you have one, but it's not delivering results, now's the time to get one that works for you. Or more specifically, one that works for your techs. They're the ones who will be using it most, so you need one that has the right combination of features and ease-of-use. 

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Topics: CMMS Mobile Apps

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan Davis started out writing for textbooks before branching out to video games and marketing collateral. He has a master’s degree in journalism and a certificate in technical writing.

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