In case you haven’t heard, mobile is taking over the world. Mobile phones have redefined how we communicate with each other, how much information we can readily access in real-time, how re receive our news, and even how we shop for everyday items, and even groceries. But within the utility industry, mobile has not redefined how utility crews perform their everyday functions as paper-based data collection and paper-based work orders, are still the dominant way that work gets done. What if your entire asset management plan can be readily accessed and programmed into the phones of your field crews, so they don't have to guess when they're supposed to do their valve exercises, manhole inspections, or hydrant flushes. Their work orders and asset maintenance requirements pop up on their mobile phones with notifications on what they're supposed to get done that day. Mobile has the opportunity to massively improve utility productivity, efficiency, and decrease utility operations and maintenance costs for rate payers.
"What is mobile asset management?". The simple answer might be to say that it's just placing an asset management plan on a mobile device but it's much more than that. Mobile infrastructure management is a shift in how utilities operate, from having worked being generated from the office and being done in the field, to an interactive and collaborative approach to management that is flexible and real-time in nature. Mobile allows utility crews to more efficiently respond to reactive maintenance issues, which gives them a greater ability to perform proactive maintenance tasks on their infrastructure.
The other massive opportunity that mobile asset management provides is that it allows information to be recorded while it's fresh. GIS data is typically wrong, outdated, and inaccurate, because utility teams are recording data on paper on or on a system that's not connected in real-time. This information is then dumped onto a GIS coordinators desk for it to be input into a GIS Mapping solution, which doesn't allow that knowledge to be shared and interacted with by every member of a utility team.
Team-based utility management is one of the great benefits of leveraging cloud-based GIS and asset management software.
GIS Software doesn't provide an opportunity to leave an audit trail or asset history, so that everyone can see everything that's ever happened to that particular asset over time. An example of this might be with a hydrant. When you pull up a hydrant in Ziptility, you might see that, you've done three repairs to it, you can see on the Hydrant flow tests, that the pressure of these hydrants is slowly decreasing, and there is a plan in the asset management plan to replace it.
Doing simple math, it might be worth it to replace the hydrant with a brand new hydrant considering the age, the condition, and criticality of failure being very significant, versus using a hydrant repair kit.
These are the some of the benefits of mobile asset management.
When choosing a utility asset management software, having mobile capability shouldn't be a feature to simply check off, it should be the core focus in your asset management selection criteria. The most intelligence in your utility comes from your field crews actually doing the work who are touching your assets on a daily basis. In situations like the coronavirus pandemic, being able to communicate and collaborate with your utility workers without being able to meet in person physically is critically important.
We've all seen it before. You work with an engineer to provide you an asset management plan for $50,000. They spend 6 months putting things together and then they deliver you an 80 page 3 ring binder that sits in the back of an office. Or you spent the last three months putting together an asset replacement program and have the capital approved within your O&M budgets, and then you go to implement the plan leveraging existing GIS software, and your field crews stop doing the work because they hate using the software.
Having a mobile asset management mindset, means putting the desires of your field-crews first. We put mobile at the forefront here at Ziptility. We've prioritized ease of use, intuitive design, and usability, above everything else. We are committed to solving for the field-first in all that we do. Because without the field crews bought in, we will not have the benefits that come from having clean, and accurate data.
If you'd like to sign up to try Ziptility's mobile asset management software, you can sign up for a demo here.
The utility software has been and is largely still incredibly clunky, expensive, and difficult to use. Having hard to use software disincentivizes data collection and cooperation from the people who need to be the most active participants, utility field crews.
Two of the most important factors in the implementation of an asset management program, are that it needs to be actionable, and simple. If you look at the Ziptility mobile asset management app, you will notice that the layout if very simple, intuitive, and easy to follow regardless of a person's level of training or competence with software.
Ziptility is available on web, iOS, and Android devices. So you no longer need to purchase expensive utility GPS devices in order to get starting with your GIS Mapping. Your utility field crews can simply use the devices that they use already.
This gives them a simple platform that requires no need to do expensive GIS training or GIS Tutorials. It simply just updates with work orders and asset management in real-time.
To help utility field crews remember what tasks they need to be doing, Ziptility send utility workers email, text, and push notifications for recurring assignments, so that an important asset maintenance task is not missed.
Mobile Asset management software goes a long way to help to ensure that your infrastructure capital investments don't go wasted.
Here are three tips to ensure your mobile asset management solutions are adopted.
1. Start Small, See Big Gains
By providing mobile access to your data and information with your entire team, it's likely that you will begin to receive a higher volume of data and information than you have historically. That is not a bad thing. Better, fresher, and more accurate data, leads to more efficient utility operations. By avoiding large implementations, you can focus on providing small wins for you and your team. As more data is input, and more activities show up in your live activity feed, the more likely your team will be to do future tasks. Start small, you will have better data in the long run.
2. Make Utility Management Software Onboarding Fun
Don't underestimate the impact of doing your Asset Management Software training over a pizza, a beverage of your teams, choice, with your GIS Map up on a big screen in your office. Investing into your utility employees, and their well being will payoff in the form of higher productivity, lower turnover, and greater customer satisfaction.
3. Include Your Team In The Rollout.
By including your team in the decision, rollout, and implementation of your new mobile asset management software, you will see a significant increase in adoption and usage of the technology. Inclusion, integration, and simplicity are the two most important factors in the successful implementation of asset management solutions.
Ziptility provides utility operators with the best free mobile asset management software. Mobile-first is the most important factor in selecting any utility management platform. We are a single software platform for utility crews to complete locates, respond to emergency situations, complete mobile work orders, and also improve your GIS Software.
Empowering busy utility operations with mobile solutions to do their work more efficiently is why we exist. Real-time mapping in a cloud-based solution, is fairly new to this industry, but these paradigms exist in other sectors like insurance, healthcare, education, technology, and manufacturing.
With our approach to empowering utility managers with unlimited users and unlimited devices, this enables and creates an environment where more data is collected, shared, updated, which makes it more useful.
We believe that accessibility trumps accuracy, and that a team's collective knowledge is more valuable than the institutional knowledge of the most tenured employee. Water main breaks don't always happen between 8am and 5pm, and they don't necessarily just stop just because you're worked at the utility for 25 years. You need to work with your team in order to fix broken infrastructure assets.
An investment into mobile asset management software is one of the easiest and best investments you will make for your utility.