January 10, 2023CMMS
Remote Collaboration? Get a CMMS and Watch It Work
Remote collaboration in maintenance refers to using technology to enable maintenance professionals to work together remotely rather than needing to be physically present in the same location.
There’s very little anyone can say about the last three years that isn’t cliché by now. At this point, we’ve all heard just about enough about “the new normal,” supply chain issues, and the changes to how we work. Depending on where you work, chances are you haven’t just heard about the changes, but you’ve made some as well. These days, digital transformation is widespread. Deskless workers are no longer disconnected from their teams if they use a CMMS on their mobile devices.
Facilitating Remote Collaboration in Maintenance
As a result, many companies are shifting to a fully remote system or at least a hybrid one. However, not all jobs allow for that. But what opportunities exist for frontline workers to optimize maintenance work via remote collaboration?
Well, it can mean any number of things. For example, it could mean:
- Team members collaborate on a preventive maintenance plan in various locations.
- A remote expert who isn’t on-site offering remote support.
- An analyst looks over the data to troubleshoot repeated breakdowns.
And it can take many forms: augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, or good old-fashioned real-time chats. There are many possibilities. But more on that later. First, let’s consider why anyone would want to collaborate remotely.
It seems counterintuitive. After all, the nature of maintenance work requires more physical collaboration than in most fields. Teams need to carry out maintenance tasks directly on assets. It’s hard to be accurate without firsthand experience. Theories don’t always match up to reality. So, let’s look at the benefits of remote collaboration.
Remote Collaboration in Maintenance
How does remote collaboration work with physical assets? What does it mean to work together to repair an asset when everyone’s not in the same place? What does remote maintenance even look like?
Collaborating remotely is particularly useful in the manufacturing industry, where equipment is often located in different parts of a factory or even in different parts of the world. In these situations, it may not always be possible or practical for maintenance professionals to travel to the equipment site to perform maintenance tasks.
Maintenance teams can use a range of tools and technologies to facilitate remote collaboration. For example, video conferencing software allows maintenance professionals to communicate and share information in real time, regardless of their physical location. This is particularly useful when troubleshooting issues or seeking guidance from colleagues with specialized expertise. In addition, managers can facilitate remote collaboration with remote monitoring and diagnostic tools, allowing maintenance professionals to remotely assess the condition of equipment and identify potential issues.
How a CMMS Facilitates Remote Collaboration
A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is a software tool maintenance teams can use to plan, schedule, and track maintenance activities across equipment and facilities. One of the key benefits of a CMMS is that it can help facilitate remote collaboration among maintenance professionals.
A CMMS can support remote collaboration in a number of ways. For example, teams can access a CMMS from any location with an internet connection. A team member can access and update maintenance records, schedule maintenance tasks, and view KPI (key performance indicator) reports and analytics from anywhere. This can be particularly useful when maintenance professionals are working remotely, as they can still access all of the necessary information and tools to complete their work.
In addition, managers can use a CMMS to assign tasks and track progress remotely. Teams can use the system to view and complete work orders, as well as update their status and progress as they work on them.
Finally, management can use a CMMS to facilitate communication and collaboration across teams and departments. For example, a manager can send notifications and alerts after assigning work orders or updating the maintenance schedule. A robust CMMS, like MaintainX, can store and share documents, images, and other resources relevant to the maintenance process.
Benefits of Remote Collaboration in Maintenance
The use of remote collaboration in maintenance can help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of maintenance operations in manufacturing in several ways.
Remote collaboration allows maintenance professionals to share expertise and resources regardless of location. This can also improve safety, as maintenance professionals can perform tasks remotely rather than having to work in potentially hazardous environments.
It’s one thing to have planned downtime and carry out your maintenance as scheduled. However, what happens when unplanned breakdowns happen? Of course, a good preventive maintenance strategy paired with a CMMS can prevent unexpected failures, keep necessary parts on hand, and provide manufacturers guidelines for the team member at the site of the failure.
Still, anything can happen. For example, imagine not having access to an on-site technician after a breakdown. Of course, nobody wants to prolong unplanned downtime because specialists are stuck in traffic. But on the other hand, imagine that the technician is able to offer remote guidance to the team members on the factory floor. Implementing a plan for remote collaboration allows your team to bypass the challenge of distance when it comes to getting assets back up and running.
In addition to allowing technicians to offer remote assistance, remote collaboration allows for other benefits flowing from faster communication. For example, employees benefit from pooling their technical know-how, whether immediately alerting team members in store rooms about finding critical parts or employees collaborating to troubleshoot problems while in different places.
Lack of access to resources and inability to take action can make employees feel disempowered in their jobs. When employees know they have easy access to experts regardless of distance, they can take ownership of their work, knowing that support is always accessible. As a result, you’ll have a more engaged and active team overall.
Forms of Remote Collaboration in Maintenance
As stated, remote collaboration can take many forms. We’ll concentrate on two broad use cases here:
Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that allows users to view and interact with digital content in a real-world environment. For example, in the manufacturing industry, teams can use AR to enhance maintenance work by providing real-time information and guidance as they perform tasks on the factory floor. Teams can use AR headsets or handheld devices that display step-by-step instructions, diagrams, and warnings overlaid on the physical environment.
By using AR, workers can more easily visualize and understand complex systems and processes, which can help reduce training time, improve accuracy and efficiency, and reduce the risk of errors and accidents. Using AR in manufacturing can also help improve productivity and safety and reduce costs and downtime. For instance, AR can identify and troubleshoot problems in real time rather than having to stop production to manually inspect equipment.
In addition to providing on-the-job support, companies can use AR for training and simulation purposes in the manufacturing industry. For example, workers can use AR to practice and learn new procedures in a virtual environment before applying them in the real world. This can be especially useful for training employees on complex or hazardous tasks, as it allows them to gain hands-on experience without the risk of injury or damage.
Connected Worker Platforms
While collaborative AR is a game changer, virtual environments will take some time to become widespread. The good news is augmentation isn’t the only way to facilitate remote maintenance to enhance cooperative work and user experiences. Working with a CMMS is a great way to make remote collaboration easy for your team.
Apart from standard features like work order automation and tracking deliverables, a well-designed CMMS, like MaintainX, offers in-app instant messaging and information sharing across distances. Imagine factory workers dealing with a broken-down asset when no technician is around. From the palm of their hand, they can contact the maintenance team for instructions on how to proceed. They can get directions on where to find the necessary parts in the stockroom. They can get guidance on performing any repairs outside of their skill set.
Whether it’s updating standard operating procedures (SOPs), adjusting preventive maintenance schedules, or just being able to chat with someone who knows how to handle a breakdown, a CMMS is an excellent bet for facilitating remote collaboration.
Facilitate Remote Collaborations with MaintainX
If using a CMMS sounds good, consider MaintainX. MaintainX has many features that would make remote collaborations run smoothly in your maintenance department, such as:
- Work order automation
- Instant chats
- Document sharing
- Procedures storage
- Video and picture sharing
- Team and individual communication
MaintainX CMMS offers robust features to facilitate remote collaborations for both small businesses and large enterprises.
Want to see how MaintainX CMMS can revolutionize your maintenance management systems?