• Novice
  • Aware
  • Competent

Mobile Computing Systems

Mobile computing systems can:

  • Drastically improve the productivity of operations and maintenance activities, especially where assets and staff are geographically dispersed
  • Establish accurate and reliable asset management data sources
  • Offer continuous data communications with the workforce
  • Reduce consumption of paper, double entry
  • Capture data at the location where it is measured.

Many of these benefits may be difficult to quantify, but it important that an estimate is made.

After implementation these values will become the mechanism against which the success of the system is measured.

Cost must also be assessed, including the initial capital investment, and the training, support, maintenance and upgrades for whole of the anticipated life of the system.

Mobile computing incorporates:

  • Robust hardware that is appropriate for the type of staff, functions and environment
  • Intuitive software, designed or tailored for the specific activities
  • Full integration with existing information systems, including asset register, work order system, maintenance management system, finance and payroll functions.

The software must accurately reflect the needs of field staff, giving them the ability to capture, review and communicate information that supports their operations.

Off-the shelf packages can be tailored to meet the organization's needs, or packages can be custom developed.

The real benefits of mobile computing will never be fully realised unless the system is fully integrated with all other asset management information systems. This must be the primary driver when designing and choosing a system.

Applications for mobile computing systems include:

  • Asset condition assessments and audits
  • Maintenance job tracking and recording
  • Operational checks
  • Customer service visits.

Key system functionality needs to fulfil the specific needs of the business unit, as well as being able to feed information into supporting asset management systems.

Basic functionality includes:

  • Automatic date and time stamping
  • Operator ID, logon - logoff functionality (for payroll)
  • Location and asset system
  • Asset ID, description, component etc
  • Customer information - complaint, fault etc
  • Details of what was done, including:
    • Description of the action taken, eg "replaced main gasket on pump #3345" for a maintenance job, or completion of a specific checklist for an asset audit
    • Time taken to complete
    • Materials / parts used
  • Outcome and status, eg "job pending, awaiting parts" or "daily treatment plant checks complete, no further action"
  • Printing of a job record/receipt for the customer
  • Communication of new and completed job information.

Consideration should be given to the nature of the input required, and where possible standard text that can be chosen from 'pick lists' and checkboxes should be employed to avoid excessive typing. Ongoing monitoring and user feedback should be encouraged to ensure that the best results are achieved.

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