No doubt about it, mobile devices are changing the way contractors conduct daily business out in the field. Likely, 2014 will be a game-changing year for many service contractors in terms of utility of smart phones and tablets for business. Here are two software solutions that, used on ultra-portable internet connected devices, can increase efficiency in spades.
Pervidi Inspection and Service Software by Techs4Biz, www.techs4biz.com, is designed for carrying out inspections and creating and filling in work orders in the field using handheld devices to record results electronically. It can be installed in-house (installed on the customer’s servers) or provided as a hosted cloud-based service (SaaS), which allows users to connect to the Pervidi Web Portal from any web browser and is specially designed for field technicians and inspectors.
While Pervidi can be implemented “out of the box,” it can also be tailored as a custom implementation configured specifically to a company’s needs and scalable to automate a single person or a field force of up to 10,000. Pervidi can be utilized to record data for work orders, timesheets, inventories, checklists, punchlists, and standard-based activities such as OSHA and NFPA.
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Designed to improve service and inspection activities and boost the efficiency of field technicians, the software is completely flexible, allowing personnel to take advantage of built-in templates and design any type of inspection and record results, pass/fail, measurements and other readings. Templates for HVAC are focused on service issues – e.g. for recording parts, labor, work orders, mini-call charge hours, nature of the call with drop-downs to identifying the reason for the call and description of the work, such as leak detection or inspection of welding. The templates are often paper-based work orders transposed into electronic versions.
The software can also generate discrepancy and exception reports. Front end users utilizing mobile devices such as iPads, iPhones, Android and Windows Mobile devices, can electronically capture photos, RFIDs and other data in the field. When the work order, summary report, list of deficiencies, inspections, timesheets, or other information is transmitted electronically to the back end (the office where management decisions are made), where the data can be placed into any of the more than 200+ template reports the customer chooses to have activated for its account.
Pervidi also has built-in decision logic, allowing users to dynamically change inspections/observations in the field based on the answer selected. Using an innovative corrective action mechanism, Pervidi can proactively track issues found during the inspection or data collection process, automatically assign correction actions to personnel, and send automatic alerts and notifications to the appropriate person with all the information required to rectify or correct the deficiency. The information can be sent to the office via a browser or by email.
iPhones and smart-phones and tablets running on Android OS can also be employed to integrate barcode reading and for high frequency RFID scanning, picture taking, and capturing electronic date/time stamped signatures in the field. The Android devices are utilized in an offline mode, enabling users to minimize wireless data transmission costs.
To minimize data entry and help ensure accuracy, the software incorporates short-cut techniques such as check boxes, pick lists and lookup lists. For example, for safety inspections, Pervidi can include a wide variety of forms that would help ensure every piece of equipment on a site or sent out to a job is up-to-date and properly inspected. The completed forms can improve accountability and serve as proof of compliance with a safety program.
Users can track equipment assignments by worker or location, and view or download equipment instructions and regulations.
In addition to handling inspections (including safety inspections and compliance activities) and work orders, the system also supports tracking customers’ equipment for up-selling opportunities (preventive maintenance, equipment replacement or upgrade) that might arise as tracked equipment ages.
On construction projects where material is constantly being consumed or where needs can change on a dime, here’s an app that can streamline stocking the job.
Home Depot Pro App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and for Android customers enables contractor customers to access account information remotely via those devices, check local store inventory, place an order for material online for same day in-store pick-up, search for stores with Pro Delivery trucks, and contact their local Pro desk. Contractors can browse the catalog by categories or search by keyword.
If the items are not available locally for pick-up, contractors can search stores near them. Users can also access in-store receipts to see details of earlier purchases.
To expedite ordering and maximize accuracy when out in the field, contractors can scan in bar codes of products previously purchased and find out availability at their local store (with pinpointing of the product’s aisle and bay location) or availability at nearby stores. The app is downloadable free by texting PRO to HDepot (433768) or at the Apple App Store and at Google Play.
Bill and Patti Feldman write articles and web content for trade magazines and manufacturers of building products. They can be reached at [email protected].