2013 Mobilizer Awards Field Service

By  Stephanie Blanchard, Digital Editor & Lori Castle, Editor in Chief — November 04, 2013


Serving the Aerospace and Defense industry, ATK Aerospace Group produces solid rocket propulsion systems and supplies military and commercial aircraft structures.  It’s a dangerous business. Not complying with regulations is not just a paperwork nightmare. “You mess up, you  might die,” said John Becnel, Director, Facilities, Maintenance & Tooling, ATK Aerospace.
With more than 30,000 acres, 1,000 buildings and a number of hazardous locations, a mobile solution was needed to let technicians adhere to extensive governmental, environmental and safety regulations, while streamlining the workflow. 
Any solution had to revolve around safety, as many highly critical functions must be performed before work can start in a live area, whether it’s decontamination of hardware or obtaining flame permits. The mobile solution also needed to allow for seamless updates to records and be easy to maintain.
The challenges involved sites that were not near each other; two in particular were 92 miles apart. Previously, ATK employees would lose time when approvals were not in place and paperwork had to be retrieved. In addition, manual forms were often lost in transit. This process also reduced the flexibility of workers to address nearby work, as they either weren’t aware a backlogged job was nearby, or they lacked the appropriate documentation.
ATK sought a mobile solution that was Wi-Fi enabled, offered offline capability and could be tightly integrated with Maximo, the company’s corporate network that was instituted in 1999. The solution needed to provide a centralized checklist of all preparatory steps, certifications and requirements related to a work order before sending anyone to a site. Employees also needed access to all related information — including attached documents — directly on the mobile device.
After a meticulous review process, ATK Aerospace deployed the Interloc Mobile Informer in September 2012. Initial allocation was $50,000 ($20K for hardware; S30K for software and services.) Since the startup phase, ATK has spent an additional $45,000 to increase their users of the solution — made up of $20K on hardware and $25K on software and services.
Using iPads and iPad Minis, employees can now streamline work order paper processes and comply with numerous safety requirements. They have all the documents necessary to do the job, obtain signoffs and maintain communications with building and equipment owners. Maintenance workers are also able to complete additional work orders at their location even if they are not specifically assigned, which reduces the backlog.
As required, the Mobile Informer application contains all the required checklists, hazards, cautions and regulations for every known maintenance issue that has occurred. Having safety related information directly on the mobile device keeps safety – the primary concern - in focus.
A two-day training course on iPad setup and deployment as well as Informer apps was provided for key personnel from each site.  This was a “train the trainer model” to allow ATK to be self-sufficient. The company has ongoing internal training as they continue working with maintenance craftsmen and supervision to use the app.
“Training was actually the tough part,” Becnel said. The “younger guys raised on joysticks and iPhones were completely comfortable negotiating an iPad,” he said. The older employees, however, especially those in their 50s and 60s and who relied on paper systems for most of their careers, had next to no familiarity with the devices or the software. Fortunately, everyone has since learned to use the interface, especially with a mix of ages in every department to offer help.
The feedback, Becnel noted, would be about what one may expect from the various age groups. “Why do we have to change? What’s the value?” asked the older employees. The younger employees could immediately see the inherent value of mobile technology.
There has been a 20% increase in productivity and a 33% decrease in work order backlog, after deployment. “The administrative portion is unbelievable,” Becnel said. Employees are able to view all site-related safety requirements, applicable precautions, necessary certifications, approvals and checks, in advance, which allows them to better prepare for their work day before setting out. While on site, the workers can access all work order info, whether the device is connected or not.
Going forward, ATK is in the process of adding maps and GPS coordinates to the application to further improve efficiency and streamline workflow.

Honorable Mentions

Transforming the Fleet
SuperShuttle, a global shared-ride airport transportation provider with door-to-door service,  wanted to leverage a mobile solution for business optimization to provide  security, policy compliance, driver tracking and productivity improvements.
According to Derrick Hilmoe, IT Director at SuperShuttle, the process involved defining requirements for the functional, management and deployment aspects of the enterprise app, establishing key success factors and executing against them.
A full range of location based features and overall security was required along with a user- friendly experience for a wide range of end users, mainly drivers; cost effectiveness; cloud-based for central control over the devices and push policies over the air; and customizable to SuperShuttle’s needs.
The company implemented Amtel’s Mobile Lifecycle Management solution with MDM, MAM geo-fencing and GPS location tracking capabilities. HIlmoe says the biggest win is more efficient fleet operations. The app initiative proved a source of increased safety, driver productivity, customer satisfaction, business growth and success.
“We can now take central control of all our Android tablets in the field and enforce safe and secure use of the tablets and also restrict use to business. While the vehicle is in motion, restrictions simplify the user interface and help eliminate driver distraction,  promoting safe driving,” said Hilmoe.

Cleaning up the Field
Swisher Hygiene took a phased approach to development and deployment of mobile handheld devices for its route based field sales operation said Chris Ward, Director of System Development. “Our two initial goals were to eliminate the paper-driven process for field service, revenue recognition and billing, and  to streamline the inventory accounting down to the route level.”
The company rolled out a solution that included Velocitor Solutions software, services and deployment support, Honeywell  hardware and  Datamax-O’Neil printers.
Ward says that moving 500+ routes from paper to electronic reporting and reconciliation came with many wins. “Tangible benefits include more timely and accurate revenue recognition, reduced touch points and error rates, improved purchasing and fulfillment controls and enhanced route efficiency reporting.  Most importantly, the transition from paper to technology demonstrates our company’s commitment to achieving operational excellence which translates into a better customer experience.”
Additional revenue was realized in the field worker’s ability to service 1-3 more stops per days and sell more at each stop. Decreased labor costs resulted from drivers not having to work longer in order to manually enter data at the end of the day.
Ward said, “Proper vendor selection and using subject matter experts from the field in the design, testing and implementation phase were key to the success of this implementation. Additionally the phased approach has allowed for enhancements to be added after the initial deployment with minimal disruption and training.“


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