Field maintenance is an essential component of maintenance and repair that is performed on-site. Statistics show that there are more than 20 million field technicians worldwide and the field management market was valued at $2.74 billion in 2018.
Timely field maintenance is essential as it keeps equipment, infrastructure, and assets in workable condition. You can’t afford to have downtimes that will cost your business a lot. Improving field maintenance won’t just increase asset life but it will make your team more efficient.
Not sure how to improve field maintenance operations? Keep reading…
This article covers different ways to improve field maintenance that will help you improve efficiency, performance, and asset life.
1. Standardize Maintenance Workflows
Standardization is the best way to improve field maintenance. Standardizing the common maintenance workflows and processes will make your technicians efficient and it will help them save time.
Standardizing has several benefits such as:
- It improves productivity
- It increases clarity
- It improves quality
- It increases employee satisfaction
- It decreases guesswork
Standardizing workflows will make it easier for employees and technicians to optimize their tasks. They will know exactly when a technician or equipment will reach the site and what route it will take. They will know the next step they have to take once the equipment and technician reach the site. And so on.
When workflows are standardized and your employees know what they’re supposed to do, it improves employee morale significantly. According to Walter McIntyre:
“If managed properly, standardized work establishes a relationship between people and work processes which can enhance ownership and pride in the quality of work performance. The result is high morale and productivity.”
So what you need to do is standardize recurring and routine workflows and processes by defining clear rules. This is the first step towards field maintenance improvement.
2. Manufacturer Manuals
Field workers have to deal with different equipment and tools. It isn’t easy to deal with all sorts of varied situations in the field. In order to make your technician’s life easier in the field and to improve field maintenance, you need to provide them with the manufacturer manual.
Statistics show that manuals are available to the field workers less than 50% of the times and it is one of the top challenges that technicians face in the field.
Manufacturer and service manuals are something that technicians should have access to all the times. They should be able to access any manual 24/7 digitally. This means you have to ensure all the manuals are uploaded in your field maintenance software and are accessible to workers all the time. Even if it’s not a digital copy, you should still upload the paper version (as image or PDF) in the field maintenance tool.
Use a CMMS software like MaintainX that lets you add and share manuals as well as your knowledge base. This way, your technicians will be able to access manuals when they’re in the field.
3. Communication and Collaboration
Field maintenance can’t be improved without collaboration because it’s more about teamwork when getting tasks completed. Technicians in the field should be able to communicate while on the go with their peers back in the office and other technicians out in the field as well.
According to HSO, the smartphone is the primary tool for communication used by 49% of the company workforce. It’s recommended to use tools that pair with your smartphone for communication and collaboration that makes conversation easier.
MaintainX, for instance, offers powerful collaboration and communication feature that lets your workers send unlimited messages, photos, and collaborate on the go. The messages are organized which makes finding and sorting conversations a piece of cake.
Let’s admit it, your technicians don’t just need to communicate rather they need access to files, data, photos, and other material. The truth is you never know what they need in the field. Therefore, a communication tool with cloud storage is a must. Merely having a smartphone with traditional messaging apps (e.g. WhatsApp) isn’t a good idea.
Use of a sophisticated collaboration tool lets your workers’ access history of previous maintenance projects. History helps solve similar issues without wasting time. This is something that is indeed very handy for technicians.
One of the top challenges for technicians is the unavailability of training videos or lack of training. When your technicians aren’t trained and don’t know how to operate tools and machines in the field, it will ruin everything.
And will negatively impact field maintenance.
In order to improve field maintenance, you need to make sure technicians are trained and know everything about the equipment they have to use in the field. This means you have to provide them with training regularly. Training them once won’t help because they don’t use most of the tools for months and when they have to use them, they don’t know how to do it.
So train them regularly.
Training videos are another way to improve field maintenance. You should have training videos and tutorials available for your workers through your maintenance software. If they have to use new equipment or have to deal with a rare situation, they’d can access a training video right in the field.
Having training videos available to them doesn’t mean you don’t have to train them. Training is a must. Videos just aid them but if they haven’t used the tool in the past, video training will fail to get the job done.
5. Improve Response Time
Let’s admit it, nothing hurts field maintenance more than poor response time. If you’re interested in improving field maintenance, response time should be your top priority.
If you’re using a field maintenance software, reducing response time will get easier. You can dispatch technicians based on their current location, skillset, availability, and expertise. This can only be done if you’re using sophisticated software that has all the information about your workers.
If the data isn’t updated in real-time, you won’t have information on the current status of a worker. And this is what hurts response time. When a worker finishes a job in the field, his status should be immediately updated in the software so the manager can assign him a new project accordingly.
The status of the workers should be automatically updated as soon as they mark a task complete in the software. This is how you can reduce response time and improve field maintenance.
What Steps Should You Take to Improve Field Maintenance?
These 5 ways to improve field maintenance are necessary but it doesn’t end here. There are many other approaches to improvement, and it’s important you continue searching for the best ones.
So where you should begin? What approach to use first?
Let’s start with your field maintenance software. If you aren’t using one, grab one today and it will solve most of your field-maintenance-related issues. MaintainX is your best bet as it’s based on real-time communication and enables you to organize work orders all on one home screen.
If you’re already using a field maintenance software, upgrade it and see if you can get additional features. If your tool doesn’t offer you with advanced features like communication and collaboration, workflow management, checklists, manual sharing, etc., you should think of changing it.
Once you’re using the right CMMS software, then start implementing approaches discussed in the article and see what works best for your workers. Don’t hesitate to experiment and adjust accordingly. Best of luck!