Equipment inspections, repair requests and maintenance work orders are essential, every-day processes within heavy construction operations. Let’s take a look at:
- How contractors typically complete these process and the challenges they face with current workflows.
- How they could complete them more effectively with connected workflows and a unified construction software platform.
Problems with Paper and Disconnected Processes
For inspections, contractors first need the right paper form for a specific piece of equipment. That’s easier said than done. Foreman typically need a large library of paper forms in their trucks or office trailers. Keeping them up to date is time consuming and difficult to keep track of. Alternatively, they end up using a generic form or one they have on hand that is close to – but not exactly – the one they actually need. In either case, the quality of the information collected suffers. Completing the paper inspection form is labor intensive. Data quality is compromised because it is limited to what can be written down and depends largely on the style, effort or interpretation of the individual completing it.
Quality is also be a problem when repair requests and work orders are managed with paper forms and independent processes. The bigger liability here, however, is a lack of connectivity. Paper forms have to get from an operator, to a foremen, to a truck, to an office and into a system. The trip can take days or weeks. Contractors try to save time and bridge the gaps with phone calls, text messages or e-mails, but this relay of information to multiple people in multiple formats and multiple steps opens the door for errors, misinterpretation and delays.
With this type of fragmented, off-line process, there is also no way to track the status of requests or work orders and provide visibility across the enterprise (to the dispatcher, for example) without time consuming, manual processes.
Unified Software – A Better Approach
The B2W ONE Platform connects the field, the shop and the office to eliminate these deficiencies. The specialized software elements for fleet and equipment scheduling and dispatching (B2W Schedule), field tracking (B2W Track), equipment maintenance (B2W Maintain) and data capture and analysis/electronic forms (B2W Inform) pull operational data – including the equipment list – from a single, centralized database. Elements also update that database in real time, enabling contractors to sustain a single source of truth.
Here is how this unified platform approach can streamline critical fleet maintenance processes to help contractors minimize equipment downtime, cut costs and drive profitability.
Using B2W Inform for electronic data capture and analysis, a contractors can throw away the library of paper forms. Custom electronic inspection forms can be created easily and quickly to capture the exact information required, and any form can be pulled up on a mobile device at any time.
Filling out the electronic version is faster and easier. Drop down menus, mandatory fields and data binding increase the integrity and structure of the information. Rich data like photos, GPS locations and time stamps increase the value of the forms. A photo of what needs to be repaired – for example – can be far more helpful than a written description and it can be transferred directly to the work order. Form submission is also instantaneous. When there is a defect, the maintenance team knows about it sooner and can fix it faster.
When field employees see the need for equipment to be repaired, they can also use the B2W Track field tracking and analysis element to document the request and communicate it directly and immediately to mechanics in the shop that are using the B2W maintain fleet management software to manage maintenance and repairs. Comments, photos and any other information needed for the shop to get things going can be included. The online process is seamless. Phone calls and paper forms disappear, along with errors and the need for time consuming person-to-person follow up. Authorized employees throughout the company can see the status of the repair request and the subsequent work order in real time.
Creating Work Orders
Once the maintenance team has an inspection form (from B2W Inform) or a repair request (from B2W Track), the information is there to start the work order process. Creating the work order in B2W Maintain, a shop manager can see instantly and automatically if there are other repairs, work orders or upcoming preventive maintenance requirements associated with the specific piece of equipment. They can also see the requirements for other equipment on the same job site or in close proximity. That valuable knowledge allows work to be bundled together to optimize the efficiency of mechanics and limit equipment downtime.
When a work order is assigned with B2W Maintain, the mechanic will have all of the information needed to complete the repair. That includes access to repair history, documentation and warranty information. With work orders and all of this valuable supporting data online and updated in real time, mechanics spend more time making repairs and less time driving back and forth to the shop. They can also communicate the status of the repair process in real time across the organization.
Processes that keep equipment in production and operating safely can make or break the success of most heavy construction projects. Unfortunately, paper forms and disconnected systems behind these processes at many construction companies are a recipe for delays, errors, uncertainty and re-work.
With a unified approach – and the software to support it – contractors can gain efficiencies within individual workflows. They can also expand collaboration across multiple workflows to save time and money while improving outcomes.