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Blog |  9 min read

Mobile For The Workforce In Asset Intensive Industries

Industries with vastly distributed assets – utilities and transport in particular, are undergoing phenomenal business transformation. The deployment of smart mobile technologies into operational processes is playing a key role in enabling the transition to the 21st century.

The primary drivers for change in these industries, which operate within heavily regulated environments, are modernisation – including upgrading vast networks of aging infrastructure, and demand from consumers for affordable, reliable and more environmentally sustainable options. This is amidst the business-as-usual operations of managing productivity and efficiency through asset maintenance and upgrades, workforce safety and capability, meeting regulated reliability and environmental standards, and managing cost.

Advances in technology have always played a role in improving on reliable service delivery in these industries over the past few decades. This is no better demonstrated than in the modernisation of Australia’s energy networks – where a secure, reliable, affordable and safe energy supply underpins the country’s economy. As in other sectors, the impact of technological change on the energy industry will be disruptive and far-reaching. While the complexities about Australia’s energy future are out of scope of the space we have here, it’s already been demonstrated that it’s not necessary to wait for a smart grid to come online in order to get ahead of the curve and begin the process of modernisation as part of operational and business transformation.

Automation and mobile technologies play a key role in asset monitoring and increased operational efficiency across the electricity grid itself, including automated outage management. Much like advanced metering infrastructure (smart meters), a mobile solution for field service management is simply another part of the process of modernisation of the electricity grid.

By deploying a dependable mobile technology solution into the field an organisation can allow field staff to carry the operations centre in their pocket – enabling almost immediate productivity, efficiency and safety outcomes. Apart from empowering the workforce with high functioning, easy to use devices, operational processes are simplified and extended into the field with immediate access to information and historical data at the fingertips of the work force – all in real time. And if not in real time, then offline with the ability to synchronise once a connection is established – reducing the need for double entry.

The success of the deployment of a mobile technology is determined by its ease of use to ensure immediate uptake by staff with business critical roles. When transitioning from paper based processes to mobile and digital, consideration should always be given to those who will be using the technology in the field. After all, downtime while grappling with unreliable, non-intuitive technology is contradictory to the intended productivity and efficiency outcomes of investing in these technologies in the first place.

An enterprise app in this instance would replace inefficient paper-based processes while delivering a number of immediate operational and business benefits. It should be enterprise ready, flexible, scalable and secure while integrating seamlessly into existing enterprise asset management systems, without prohibitive cost or affecting downtime.

Recently, a state owned organisation with vast distributed assets has deployed a mobile solution to replace paper processes in the field which communicates directly with their IBM enterprise asset management software. An engineer can use the app to see what repairs are required on a particular asset, when it was last inspected, what needs urgent attention. It can also flag other jobs in the area which require attention. The app logs the time taken to complete the job and estimates additional time required to repair or fix parts based on historical data. This information is sent to and comes from the EAM software. This enables smart decisions to be around predictive maintenance and ordering as well as resource allocation. The app has been designed to empower the end user, with an easy to use interface and provides quality control of data being inputted into the system.

By improving workforce capability in the field, the above use case for a mobile solution brings together the all the elements that demonstrate a shift to modernisation, incorporating smart technologies to provide safer, more efficient and more reliable services at least cost to customers.

But then it’s not just a case of getting an app. It’s a case of getting an enterprise ready solution that is developed with the functionality tailored to suit the organisation’s unique workflow, and a user interface customised to reflect its brand, ensuring ease of use so that all tasks are completed and that data capture and quality are optimised. In addition to this, a delivery framework to accelerate time to market so that the technology is deployed within weeks rather than several months – or even years in the worst case scenario without effective project management, again ensures a return on investment rather than a blow out in cost. It shouldn’t stop there. There should also be on-going support following go-live for a period, until all requirements have been met with clear evidence of productivity efficiencies – while the business continues to provide safer, more efficient and more reliable services at least cost to its customers.

Learn more about how Mobile apps in the cloud (MaaS) from Certus can help you deploy custom apps for your enterprise.

To find out more about a solution that could work for you download the Certus Field Service Management app solution sheet.


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