The Rise of Mobility in EAM  

By Ed O'Brien

Industry Trends

The use of a wide variety of mobile devices can expand the reach of mobility in EAM systems.  In addition, handheld smart devices have grown in capability alongside EAM and field service systems with technologies like GPS, GIS, RFID, and embedded cameras. 

Mobile Devices Driving Increased Mobility in EAM

The ubiquity of mobility and the use of mobile devices of all kinds, including smartphones, tablets, and phablets, are driving a “mobile-first” mentality across business and industry.  This includes Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) as well, often using ruggedized versions of phones, tablets, and laptops.  To this point, ARC Advisory Group research indicates that about half of technicians now use a mobile device for work orders and estimates that nearly all WOs will be managed via mobile devices in the future.

Increasingly, maintenance teams are planning, troubleshooting, executing, and recording work via mobile devices.  However, paper-based reporting processes are still in use by many maintenance organizations, with work orders often being handwritten by maintenance personnel, and data entry occurring afterwards by clerical personnel.  The resulting output is based on historic -- and not real-time -- information, which inherently introduces latency into the maintenance reporting and analysis process.    

Mobile Devices are Becoming Indispensable to Maintenance Users

Technicians are increasingly using mobile devices for a wide variety of tasks.  In addition to electronically delivering work request and work order information, they allow technicians to immediately assess complaint, cause, and correction options, including researching viable repair options, needed (and available) parts, schematics, service bulletins, and other information needed for a fast and efficient preventive or corrective maintenance process.

With modern mobile devices and ruggedize versions of these devices, life can be easier and more productive for EAM users.  Maintenance works can have access to work order instructions, equipment hierarchies, part numbers, inventory data, and similar information right at their fingertips.   


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Mobility in EAM has also grown in capability as handheld smart devices with technologies like GPS, GIS, RFID, and embedded cameras have similarly grown.  Instruments with Bluetooth can be used to automate some data collection efforts.  In addition to improving data quality, these mobility capabilities enable more powerful applications, improved business processes and business value.

Still, it is often difficult for some maintenance organizations to identify the tangible benefits of mobile work orders, because they don’t have access to the very information supplied by mobility, which is a paradox.  This can make it difficult for some organizations to provide financial justifications for mobility purchases.  Often, a strong business case can be made when the value of shared, real-time maintenance information can be identified, quantified, and effectively communicated. 

The many benefits of mobility in EAM, including real-time work order processing, higher data integrity, greater efficiencies, and improved customer service are being realized in many maintenance organizations.  Consequently, mobile devices are becoming indispensable for many maintenance organizations looking to increase the efficiencies and effectiveness of their maintenance activities.

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