Over the past several months, remote capabilities have gone from a “nice-to-have" digital transformation feature to a foundational part of effective asset and facilities management. Modern manufacturing organizations have a lot to juggle as they move forward into the “new normal”: their technological infrastructure, the physical safety of their employees, cybersecurity and the day-to-day asset management tasks that will lead to more predictive operations, higher revenue and maximized ROI.
It’s a lot to master – and it’ll be impossible without mobile and remote tools. That’s why it’s essential that your business-critical technologies, including your computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), have robust mobile capabilities.
Here’s everything you need to know about the present and future of remote operations in the manufacturing space, as well as what features to look for in your mobile CMMS tool.
The Evolution of Facility and Asset Management Due to COVID-19
Before COVID: Inconsistent Digital Transformation in the Manufacturing Space
The world of asset management has changed dramatically over the last decade, with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and emerging trends like artificial intelligence (AI), the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), advanced robotics and automations widening the possibilities – and increasing expectations – for companies in asset-heavy industries.
For years, though, deployments of these new technologies have been inconsistent and varied, with many organizations preferring their “tried-and-true” legacy systems and finding their decision-makers unwilling to invest in expensive new tech that may not yield a strong return on investment (ROI).
During COVID: The Changes that Came With COVID-19
That all changed with COVID-19. Organizations suddenly had to maintain operations in a largely (if not completely) remote environment: their technicians couldn’t be on the floor, they had to implement social distancing, they needed full transparency into their data and operations from multiple locations – and they had to move to the cloud and integrate their technologies for all this to work (bad news for all the businesses relying on standalone legacy or on-premise systems).
That said, though this change certainly fast-forwarded digital transformation for those dragging their feet, the truth is that it was a long time coming. COVID-19 simply forced a coming-to-terms with changes in tools, strategy and processes that needed to happen to achieve the transparency, ease-of-use and data-driven insight necessary to optimize operations, cut costs, reduce inefficiencies and move ever-closer toward a more reliable and predictable maintenance environment.
After COVID: Now What?
Now, the initial shock of COVID – and the ensuing rush to implement anything to survive – has subsided, and companies are now looking toward future-proofing their operations and their technological ecosystem. Here, two questions remain: what will asset management operations look like in the future, and does your business have the right tools and strategies in place to thrive in the “new normal”?
In short, now what?
Moving Forward: Remote Capabilities Will Be Essential to Asset and Facility Management
Now that the world has largely settled into the post-coronavirus “new normal,” there are a few asset management trends that are here to stay (and you can read about more of them in greater detail here).
One of them? Remote work and the implementation of a robust remote tool like a mobile CMMS.
Remote Work Will Remain Important
Remote work is here to stay, even after the pandemic is over. Statistics show that:
- 83% of employers say the shift to remote work has been successful for their company
- 70% of employees have asserted that they will still want to work remotely after the pandemic is over.
- 52% of employers believe that their employees have been more productive since working from home
So, although many have returned to the office in some capacity (and others will continue to trickle in), the professional landscape will look different moving forward. For most organizations, it’ll be a hybrid workspace, and there will be necessary shifts in company culture, engagement, the way work gets done and how physical spaces are utilized.
For asset management professionals, in particular, a few concerns will remain top of mind moving into this hybrid environment:
- IT capabilities: Companies will need to the IT resources and technological infrastructure to continue to work across locations and devices – without the frustration and glitches that come with a poorly integrated patchwork of solutions.
- Cybersecurity: With a wider technological ecosystem and broader use of personal devices – along with run-of-the-mill asset compliance and security concerns – cybersecurity will remain a real concern and a top priority.
- Physical safety: Post-coronavirus, the health, safety and comfort of team members will remain a top concern.
- Asset and facility maintenance: Effective asset and facility maintenance is, and will continue to be, all about creating a more predictable environment so organizations can achieve the associated improvements in revenue, up-time and ROI.
A mobile-friendly, device-agnostic CMMS system will help asset management organizations address all these concerns – which is why it’ll be a have-to-have looking forward.
Benefits of a Mobile CMMS
Even before COVID-19, mobile CMMS systems were becoming key solutions for companies looking to improve their efficiency, productivity and ROI. The right mobile CMMS solution can, among other things, offer:
- Reduced paper consumption, thereby decreasing supply costs and supporting green initiatives
- Fast, streamlined access to critical information, including asset maintenance history, warranty documentation, inventory information and all critical work order details
- Improved productivity and less human error as technicians can easily find the information they need to complete a service or maintenance request on-the-spot and communicate effectively with the CMMS workstation back in the office
- Decreased labor costs and increased employee satisfaction over time
- Increased visibility into assets and physical equipment on the floor
- Increased transparency when it comes to compliance and audit preparedness
- More accurate data across locations and devices, which can help decision-makers make cost-saving decisions
- Improved inventory management with less over-ordering and improved ability to locate parts quickly and effectively for repairs
All of this will help organizations maximize their technological infrastructure, enhance their cybersecurity, improve physical safety of employees and streamline their asset and facility maintenance tasks. That said, there are key features and functionalities of a mobile CMMS to keep top of mind.
Key Mobile CMMS Features to Look Out For
Single sign-on (SSO) is an authentication feature that simplifies the login process, allowing employees to access various business-critical tools using one login and password. Investing in a mobile CMMS with SSO capabilities can have many benefits, helping to:
- Improve the user login experience
- Increase employee efficiency by allowing team members to focus on the task at hand, not login concerns
- Increase security across systems and devices
- Simplify password recovery
Device-Agnostic User Interface
One of the biggest benefits of a responsive mobile tool is the ability to improve transparency, consistency and communication across sites or between employees and departments. A device-agnostic mobile app can help your team sidestep these concerns, accessing the functionality and the data they need on any smartphone, tablet or desktop.
QR and Barcode-Enabled Tracking
If your mobile CMMS allows you to generate QR codes or barcode-enabled tracking, it can make it easier for your team members to:
- Quickly get key information about a part or asset
- Create work requests and update work orders on-the-go
- Access related inventory information, including vendor information, the in-stock quantities and the parts costs
- Access maintenance history information, including downtime history and work order information
These capabilities, in turn, can improve labor efficiency, increase employee satisfaction and reduce wrench time and labor-related costs.
A Robust CMMS Infrastructure
Of course, it’s all ultimately about the CMMS system behind the mobile app. A robust CMMS will provide comprehensive functionalities like complete work order management, inventory management, labor scheduling and project-based work order management capabilities. It will also provide mission-critical, real-time insight, along with service history tracking and robust reporting and analytics.
You can learn more about how to select the right CMMS for your business’ needs here.
Integrations with Other Business-Critical Solutions
AI, analytics, automation – all these tools will need to be deployed effectively and strategically over the next few years if they are to increase flexibility, decrease costs, maximize transparency and support strategic growth.
This will require adoption of business-wide solutions rather than stand-alone software. This tech must be well-integrated with your broader technological ecosystem, agile and focused on personalizing the customer experience.
It will also require that many asset-focused businesses upgrade their infrastructure controls to enable digital management.
For any of this to work, though, the tools must be widely adopted and informed by strong strategies. This may require that organizations rethink their facility management playbook to include remote, data-first operations. In any case, it’s important to consider your broader technological infrastructure and to choose mobile tools that will integrate well.
IoT and Remote Monitoring
If there’s one capability that COVID-19 shone a bright light on, it’s remote monitoring via sensor technology. HVAC systems, asset tagging, inventory management, equipment monitoring – it can all be done remotely using sensor technology, and more companies than ever are deploying IoT to remain operational in the face of the pandemic.
Even better? This remote monitoring technology has a wide range of applications: it can not only help with asset management, but also improve things like sanitation, health and safety.
Once again, though, effective use of these tools will depend on interoperability, integrations and effective implementation.
Remote and mobile CMMS tools with be critical moving forward into the “new normal.” The key is to get it right and find the most effective tool – with the right functionalities – for your organization and your technological infrastructure.