Mobile technology is transforming the face of infrastructure and facility life-cycle management. Stakeholders from maintenance technicians to senior executives can now deliver superior operational outcomes and lower the cost of operations using the powerful data collection, reporting, and enterprise-wide data visibility offered by mobile solutions for infrastructure and facilities management. This page will review these mobile capabilities as they apply to key infrastructure and facility life-cycle areas such as space and occupancy management, asset maintenance, space surveys, asset and equipment surveys, building assessments, and incident reporting—as illustrated in Figure 1. The Central Infrastructure and Facilities Management System (the “Central System”) manages all data entered by users connected directly via wired networks or via mobile apps. The Central System also automates computation tasks on data collected in the field using the mobile apps. The technology options and security standards necessary for protected access and data privacy in a mobile environment will also be considered. Finally, the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders essential for driving successful implementation and adoption of the mobile solution for infrastructure and facility operations throughout the organization will be explored. The information below summarizes the attributes of a true enterprise class mobile infrastructure and facilities management system that helps deliver the benefits described throughout this article.
ESSENTIAL ATTRIBUTES OF AN ENTERPRISE-CLASS, MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE AND FACILITIES MANAGEMENT SOLUTION
24/7 Availability—Essential for after-hours access by shift and offsite staff.
Multiple Supported Footprints—Tablets are better suited to tasks requiring a larger screen area such as viewing a floor plan.
Smartphones with data access are adequate for tasks such as reviewing a list of maintenance work orders.
Mobile Operating Systems—Mobile facilities apps supported by widely used operating systems such as Android and Apple iOS are desired even if only one operating system is used within the organization. This ensures a smooth transition if the organization switches from one operating system to another. *** Over-the-Air (OTA) Updates**—Mobile device receives app software and data updates using the subscriber’s telecom carrier data network.
User-friendly App Design—Encourages adoption across a large number of users; eases the development of workflows that encourage self-service across the user community.
Context-dependent App Views—Improves specificity, increases accuracy, and minimizes ambiguity of entered field data with the use of role-based app and form visibility, finger-friendly pick lists for data values and actions, and context-based show/hide form fields.
Mobile Device Camera—Attach site and asset photographs to field reports.
Bar Code Scanning—Uses mobile device camera to scan a variety of barcode formats such as UPC, Data Matrix, or QR codes; used to match a field asset to its data or create a new record for an unregistered asset. *** Mobile App Data Synchronization (sync)—Uploads field data such as work order records from the mobile device to the central system; downloads tasks and data such as assigned work orders and surveys to the mobile device. *** Redlining—records important field observations directly on floor plan views, asset views, and photographs taken onsite for later reference. Common redlining features may include text boxes, underlines, blocking, circles, and arrows.
Space inventory often runs into millions of square feet at large enterprise organizations such as academic institutions, military and government facilities, large financial institutions, and global conglomerates. Infrastructure and facilities staff members at such organizations typically commute to different locations during the week, often to sites with no hard-wired connectivity to the company’s IT network. In these situations, a tablet or smartphone that has a well-implemented set of space inventory and occupancy management apps can serve as a powerful productivity enabler. For example, a space planner can review room allocations and occupancy plans with space requesters faster and with greater assuredness using a mobile app that allows him to share up-to-date floor plan drawings that display current room assignments, room categories and types, occupancy and vacancy status, lease timelines, unavailable locations such as hazmat storage areas, and evacuation routes. In another situation, a request from a senior executive for a floor plan with room assignments for his or her department can be expedited with a few clicks by the offsite facilities manager. The benefits described above can be extended even more powerfully to space and occupancy surveys.
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by Chris D’Souza, Product Marketing Manager ARCHIBUS Inc.