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Any organization that employs a field operations team knows all too well the challenges that strain worker productivity—bad weather, unique site hazards, dispatch delays, and others. When that team is also burdened with manual processes, productivity really takes a dive—and eats away at worker satisfaction.
So, how do you keep workers happy, safe, informed, and on schedule amidst growing customer demands for timeliness and quick issue resolution? Many companies in the regulated industries are turning to mobility solutions.
Recently, Barcoding worked with the California Dept of Water Resources (CDWR)—the state agency responsible for water usage throughout California—to implement a solution which will increase efficiency, improve safety for its 1,000 field-based maintenance workers and increase machine uptime. Partners in this project were Mirata, makers of “zero-code” software enabling digital forms across the enterprise, Havensight, an SAP consulting and integration partner, and Zebra Technologies, leaders in hardware that enables visibility and data capture.
Like many organizations, CDWR was looking for ways to drive efficiency, increase worker safety and satisfaction, and leverage their system of record (SAP) more effectively.
Before embarking on this project, CDWR engineers and maintenance technicians were using cumbersome paper forms on their rounds. CDWR wanted a way to leverage SAP Asset Manager to collect data at the point of performance while making life safer and easier for their employees. They also wanted the data being collected to be put to good use and not filed away on paper.
In addition, CDWR was seeing tenured staff retiring (consistent with macro-economic trends). With these retirements, and without an automated data collection process, CDWR risked losing significant tribal knowledge.
CDWR work orders, check lists, preventive plans and switching orders were primarily paper form-based, a time-consuming undertaking that put the organization at risk in several ways:
CDWR leveraged a strong ecosystem of partners to digitally transform their operations. While CDWR had over 20 years of experience on SAP, this was their first implementation of SAP Asset Manager with embedded Mirata digital forms. Havensight provided the consulting and integration services.
Barcoding provided expertise to CDWR to ensure the right devices were selected and provisioned. With Barcoding’s guidance, CDWR selected Zebra Technologies’ enterprise tablets to improve CDWR’s data quality and ability to gain efficiencies in the field. It was vital to select a mobile tablet that could withstand the harsh outdoor environments (dust, water, drops) and heat. They also required a device that was easy to use for existing smartphone users to increase speed of training and a device that could capture pictures. Finally, selecting robust asset tags was a key element of this project. These tags would uniquely identify critical assets and infrastructure and needed to withstand harsh environmental conditions.
The solution was also CDWR’s first foray into a cloud-based solution. Data comes in through SAP Asset Manager with embedded Mirata digital forms. For business processes that do not require work orders, such as switching orders to support lock out/tag out procedures, Mirata provides a stand-alone mobile client to collect the data and ensure adherence to the safety protocols. Existing forms and new forms can easily be modified and/or created by the business without IT involvement. All data flows back into SAP for centralized use. The data collection works while connected or fully offline; eliminating double data entry or manual notes after a technician comes in from the field.
For the project, CDWR and partners tagged about 75k assets with Asset, Work Clearance and P&ID tags.
Designed by Barcoding and partners to be a future-forward solution, the powerful combination of SAP Asset Manager, Mirata digital forms, and Zebra tablets has been a real game-changer for the organization, leading to:
It’s important to note that without worker buy-in and training, no solution will solve the issues for which it was intended. In this case, the transformation from pen-and-paper to digital data entry has been eagerly embraced by CDWR’s field workers, who are familiar with (and prefer) the technology and devices, value the ease of use, and appreciate the access to useful information that makes their jobs easier (and safer) to complete.
CDWR’s goal is to go from 15% to 85% proactive maintenance - and now with their mobile data collection and workflow process in place, they are on their way to achieving it.
Learn about the latest Supply Chain Trends, Technologies, and Best Practices on Barcoding’s Geek Speak blog!