Guest blog by Julia Scavicchio from Better Buys.
Maintenance departments are filled with experts who can make a little go a long way.
While constant innovation gets all the attention, there’s an entire profession behind the scenes that keeps the cogs turning.
But in recent years, advancements have reached the maintenance world through better technology. Because the profession has been slow to evolve, there’s healthy skepticism on how much of a difference trends such as mobile maintenance can make.
Optional or essential?
The real challenge is that most businesses consider their maintenance department a “cost center.”
Technicians in this role aren’t typically equipped to be proactive, so costs quickly add up due to emergencies. Investing more into this area comes with the risk of losing a return on investment (ROI), making the expense hard to justify.
When mobility enters this environment, it’s an option to revolutionize essential tasks. Issues concerning stress, poor communication, and constant downtime are the result of a dangerous reactive cycle when technicians don’t have the right tools for the job.
The best way to justify the need for mobile maintenance is to compare how core job duties are done now to how they would be improved.
Three essential tasks made easier
To shed some light on the ROI of mobile maintenance, here are the three on-the-job tasks where mobility can save time and cut costs:
1. Maintenance scheduling
When preventive maintenance is scheduled well ahead of time, technicians begin each new work day with clear objectives. This information is easily available from a mobile device, keeping maintenance teams on task as they move around a facility. Technicians can also receive real-time alerts about emergencies or tasks that can’t be scheduled.
There will always be a reactionary role for maintenance teams, and mobility helps them rapidly communicate on the go while also offering a platform for proactive scheduling.
2. Work order tracking
For operations without mobile access, there’s often a central computer that technicians visit periodically to track work orders. This means they’re between on-site locations and their desk just to track information. The practice also involves paper-based tracking. Technicians often write out details, then manually type them into the system later.
With a mobile device, technicians enter all the necessary information at the time it’s collected instead, saving a lot of unnecessary paper and time. Technicians can also take pictures of receipts and other documents then digitally attach them to work orders to show how the work was completed. All the information is centralized and easily accessible from any location.
3. Spare parts inventories
Having an inaccurate spare parts inventory is a nightmare for maintenance teams. If no spare parts are left, vendors must be contacted to ship out replacements, and in the meantime, the operation is helpless.
When technicians can continuously update their inventories from the palms of their hands, these situations are easily avoided. If routine maintenance is scheduled ahead of time and the technician sees that spare parts are low, the parts can be ordered immediately. Or, if there’s a sudden failure and the technician uses the last of a spare part, he can quickly order a replacement for next time. Technicians are able to adopt proactive mindsets to prevent an immense amount of stress in the future.
The bottom line
When decision makers suggest mobile maintenance is optional, they’re afraid the price will sink them further into a hole. The history of most maintenance departments can’t deny this problem.
But, when it’s clear these advancements are essential, teams are able to move on from past mistakes and consider a better future. Excessive labor time, unbalanced inventories and poor communication shouldn’t haunt teams that could build better practices if given the right tools.
For long-term stability, mobile maintenance is essential.