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Because they tie directly into a mobile device's hardware, mobile maintenance apps can have features you won't find in the version of your CMMS software you access through an Internet browser. But that doesn't mean apps are better 

The key to increasing reliability and cutting costly downtime is understanding how to use the two together to get the best of both worlds. 

Mobile maintenance apps are streamlined, purpose-built platforms that deliver the specific features techs need to work efficiently. And when you combine them with the features in the version you access through your desktop, you get powerful, efficient workflows that put you ahead of the maintenance curve. 

Get techs right when you need them with a CMMS software mobile maintenance app 

For most industries, maintenance departments should aim for an 80-20 split between scheduled preventive maintenance and on-demand work orders. But no matter how perfectly you plan your inspections and maintenance, there are times when you need to pull techs off PMs and quickly reassign them to repairs. The sooner you can reach out and connect with them, the sooner they can get that asset or equipment back up and running. 

Absolute worst-case scenario, you don't have CMMS software, so you have to try to figure out where the tech is before you can run over to let them know about the new on-demand work order. 

If you have CMMS software, you can use it to assign them the new on-demand work order directly from your desktop, complete with everything they need to close out efficiently, including: 

  • Step-by-step instructions 
  • Customizable checklists 
  • Associated parts and materials 

But if the tech has a mobile maintenance app, it's even faster. Instead of having to wait for the tech to log into the software after closing out their current PM, you can send them a push notification directly through the app. Their phone vibrates or chimes, and the app displays a message across the screen. 

When it comes to downtime, minutes matter. Although it's hard to calculate an exact number, and it would be different for each industry, people often point to $260 thousand as the average cost of downtime across industries.  And that's not the cost per breakdown. It's per hour. 

Open up accurate, fast lines of communication with a CMMS software mobile maintenance app 

If you're still trying to do maintenance management with paper or spreadsheets, getting the right information into the right hands is a time-consuming, error-prone process. With paper, there's usually only one copy, and techs easily and often misplace paperwork. With spreadsheets, you have the opposite problem. Every time you send a spreadsheet out as an email attachment, you're creating a new file. At first, it's an exact copy, but any changes you make to one of the files are not carried over to the other. Soon you have two different versions, and that means someone is working from out-of-date data. With paper, you're losing data. With spreadsheets, you're producing too much of it. But CMMS software keeps all your data safe, secure, and up to date in one central database. You never lose anything, and you're always up to date. 

The version of your CMMS software on your desktop makes it easy to tap into your data and pack work orders with the information techs need to close out efficiently. They arrive onsite with all the associated parts and materials as well as access to detailed written instructions and explanations. 

But sometimes techs need advice or an extra set of eyes on a task, and the last thing you want is for them to start walking around the facility trying to track down a more senior member of the maintenance team. They're wasting their own time and interrupting the other tech's work. 

Instead of walking in circles, they can use the app to attach comments to work orders or individual tasks, explaining the steps they took or asking for advice or confirmation. Sometimes, it's as simple as explaining they accidentally brought the wrong tool and need an extra ten minutes to run back to get the right one. Other times, they need you to know that a routine inspection turned up a major issue that's going to take hours to fix. 

And techs who are slow thumb typists can use their phone's built-in text-to-speech feature to add comments quickly. Instead of hunting and pecking on the small keyboard, all they have to do is say their comment. They can also use their phone's built-in camera and then upload the digital image directly. 

Using pictures is a fast way to communicate a lot of information at every stage of a work order. When the tech first arrives at the asset, they can upload a picture to let the maintenance manager know the asset's current condition. As they work, they can take more pictures to document their progress, which is especially helpful when working on assets with layered internal parts like an engine. Then just before closing out the work order, the tech can upload a final image, requesting a remote visual inspection. 

Capture reliable data from anywhere with a CMMS software mobile maintenance app 

Maintenance departments should try to split their effort 80-20 between preventive maintenance and on-demand work orders. But there's another 80-20 split they also need to pay attention to, the "Pareto Effect," which is the theory that focusing on the right 20% of your work produces 80% of your benefits. The challenge is finding the right 20%, the tasks that deliver the biggest returns on your effort investments. 

For example, by tracking your on-demand work orders, you might discover that out of all your assets and equipment, it's the same three that give you the most trouble. So, instead of setting up a preventive maintenance program that treats every asset equally, you schedule more inspections and tasks for the three problem assets. 

Finding that 20% is a multi-step process. The first is making sure you're capturing the right data. The second is keeping it safe and secure, and the third is crunching the data to produce reports with critical maintenance metrics and KPIs. Without easy-to-read reports packed with graphs, that 20% remains hidden behind a wall of raw data. 

For the second and third steps, the desktop and database are doing a lot of the work. But there's an app feature that help ensure techs can capture accurate data. 

Offline sync 

Depending on the industry, techs might spend a lot of time working in the same building on the same small set of assets, or they might travel long distances between multiple facilities. They could work in a manufacturing plant with a single line or on wind turbines spread out across a valley. 

Regardless of where they work, there are times when they are out of range and cannot access the Internet. But even though they're offline, they can use the app to capture critical data right away, when it's still fresh in their head. Techs can use the app offline to: 

  • Edit work orders 
  • Create assets 
  • Track time 

And the data stays safe inside the app until the tech is back online and the mobile device can sync with the CMMS database. 

Next steps 

If you're tired of struggling with asset and maintenance management, it's time to reach out to CMMS software providers. They can walk you through your options and explain help you find the solution that works best for you. 

There's no better way to get a sense of what's possible and how you can successfully navigate the process, going from interested to implemented. 

Speak to CMMS specialist

About The Author

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan has been covering asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions since joining Hippo CMMS. Prior to that, he wrote for textbooks and video games.
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