When mobile solutions first began to be adopted by essential industries, the focus was very much on managing the workforce. It’s only more recently that companies have started recognising that a solution’s ability to collect rich data from the field is at least as important as its ability to send data out to engineers.
Most maintenance operations involve regular asset inspections, and the ability to capture richer, more varied information about asset condition is crucial as companies start to move from a break/fix maintenance model to a more predictive approach. A picture can be worth a thousand words, so capturing image and location information on assets is becoming increasingly important to our clients.
Equally, detailed data capture plays a key role in specific initiatives such as data quality improvement projects. Across the essential industries, efforts are being made to improve the quality of data held in the central asset register. Mobile solutions need to be able to adapt to the requirements of these initiatives to help engineers confirm whether the data in the register matches the reality in the field. This data is fundamental to the effectiveness of the back-office systems that manage the assets.
Finally, changes in corporate policies or regulations can have an impact on the data that needs to be collected. When the goal-posts are always moving, it’s vital to be able to respond quickly and ensure that mobile solutions can keep pace as requirements evolve.
However, in most cases, adapting a mobile solution to capture different types of data can be a slow, cumbersome and expensive process. The logic that supports data capture is usually hard-coded in some programming language, so the business must depend on the IT team or software provider whenever changes are required.
What’s needed is a more flexible approach. By abstracting the data capture functions from the underlying technology platform, and allowing business users to make changes for themselves, you can put the business back in control.
This is why we built Affinity Fieldreach. Business users can easily create or edit the structured lists of questions that guide engineers through each step of the inspection and maintenance processes, and prompt them to collect the correct data at each stage.
Business validation rules can be specified to ensure that data is entered in the correct format, range, and business context. Getting the data right first time at the source avoids data quality issues later on in the process.
Users can also easily add business logic, allowing the mobile process to change dynamically based on the data that is entered. For example, an engineer may be assessing the condition of an asset. If the assessment is positive, the engineer will move on to the next step; but if it is negative, the engineer will be prompted to enter additional information to contribute more meaningful data to the overall business process.
The overall mobile process, the validation and the logic are all managed via an intuitive interface that business users can operate without any technical knowledge or programming skills. As a result, when the process needs to change to meet new regulatory requirements, or a new process is needed to support a specific initiative such as a data quality survey, the business doesn’t have to wait on IT.
Affinity Fieldreach puts power in the hands of the business, giving essential industries the agility and flexibility to align mobile processes quickly and easily with almost any requirement. Analysing the rich data collected by these processes will help to improve asset maintenance, prolong the life of assets and manage work more efficiently – which is ultimately where the real value lies.