Facility inspections: how to perform inspection rounds more efficiently
A familiar scenario for inspection rounds is this one: on a regular basis, teams walk the facilities and note down anomalies and damage to infrastructure. This is often done with a clipboard in hand and paper forms with checkboxes to be ticked or filled in. Facility inspectors usually add handwritten notes and point out potential action items. When considered useful, they may take photographs as well.
Inefficient and slow
After the inspection rounds, checklists will probably be manually entered in some digital system (spreadsheet or small database tool) and then exported to a software application for work order management or maintenance scheduling.
When inspection rounds are performed in such conditions, we can expect the following problems:
- Personnel missing inspection points, overlooking defects, or pointing out issues already reported
- Lost or illegible information, data processing bottlenecks, and input errors
- Corrective actions getting delayed
The whole process is inefficient due to manual form filling, inputting data, attaching photos and triggering actions. Moreover, there is an obvious lack of task guidance and quality control.
Can mobile technology help?
A first idea could be to digitize the paper and pencil form and migrate it to a mobile device: handheld computer, tablet or mobile phone. But that is only a partial solution. It is neither user-friendly nor does it solve some critical points:
- Wayfinding: showing personnel where to go and what to inspect
- Planning an inspection sequence
- Clear workflows and instructions on how to complete an inspection
- In-field access to information: ability to consult details or pictures of inspection points
- Double bookings: did someone else already report the issue? Has a ticket been created?
- Capability to trigger work orders on the spot so that issues get resolved faster
- Proper integration with upper-layer software (e.g. maintenance management, reporting)
A more advanced approach is to deploy a mobile application for inspection rounds.
Mobile app for inspection rounds
A mobile app not only enables field workers to perform completely paperless inspections. The software will also support the entire inspection process, from preparing lists of inspection points and planning and allocating resources, to identifying locations and assets, to capturing defects and booking work orders from a smartphone or tablet.
What are the main benefits?
With no need to enter/retype information after the round is completed, a mobile app strongly reduces time wasted with manual input.
Planners can prepare a pre-defined sequence of inspection points; and inspectors have a clear view on the route to follow. In combination with automated workflows and visual task guidance, this results in faster inspection rounds. Also, there is no need to redo inspections due to lost or incomplete “paper” information. Full integration with work order management saves even more time and speeds up problem resolution.
Quick corrective action
Inspectors can trigger corrective action immediately, which will then be communicated directly to the appropriate teams. Furthermore, they can easily avoid the risk of double bookings by checking on the spot if an issue has already been reported or a work order created. He/she can do this visually by checking pictures as well as by applying advanced filters.
Less mistakes and better quality
A mobile app provides standardization of work procedures and minimizes manual errors on the part of the inspector. In the field, it provides rich information that is directly accessible in a single point. This includes details of the inspection point, photos, work orders already booked, instruction manuals, etc. When booking work orders, inspectors can make use of pre-configured templates. A mobile app will also prevent information loss or incorrect data input after the round.
A good mobile inspection app makes inspectors’ lives easier with clear instructions and pictures of locations and assets to inspect. It relieves them of performing manual procedures and may even enable them to create their own rounds. By providing a standardized approach, the app will also speed up the learning curve. It may even offer the option to automatically assign the round to a reviewer after the inspector is done.
Traceability and relevant insights
The app and underlying database collect relevant information regarding all inspection rounds. Managers will gain insight into key parameters and pain points, enabling them to improve the inspection process.
How do you perform inspection rounds? Are you using mobile technology? What challenges do you face? Feel free to contact us to share your comments or to learn more about our mobile solutions.