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Using smart phones and tablets to automate safety inspections

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Handheld devices such as smart phones, PDAs and tablets are increasingly being used by organisations to improve staff productivity and minimise unnecessary administrative tasks. There are a few mobile device applications that can be used effectively to automate safety inspections, not only reducing the dependency on paper in the field, but also empowering the safety inspector to dramatically improve communication between the field and the office.

Applications are available for safety inspection, pre-start checks and preventative maintenance.

The demand for safety inspection software running on mobile devices has increased due to the low cost and availability of mobile devices. Since the majority of safety inspectors carry mobile phones, using a safety inspection app for data collection does not require additional capital expenditure.

All operators of heavy vehicles, cranes and forklifts are required to perform pre-start checks and report in real-time on any critical deficiency. Mobile devices can provide information that already exists on paper or on the office computer desktop. Data from a pre-start check conducted on a mobile phone can be immediately sent to the office, allowing management to monitor the inspections results and take suitable action if required.

Service providers can now use mobile devices in the field to read instructions, complete inspections and record findings on defects, recommendations, parts and labour, with the data on the device transmitted to the office in real-time.

Key points of relevance when selecting a mobile device application:

  • Ease of use will enable personnel in the field to quickly ‘master’ the app
  • ‘Offline Mode’ will help users work on the app without internet connectivity, with the ability to control when and how data is sent back to the server
  • Picture-taking function and automatic integration of images with inspection data
  • Standardised functions and drop-down lists will simplify data collection and minimise data entry
Choosing the right mobile inspection application for the safety inspector is important as the solution must meet their needs in the field.

The first step is to determine what the application needs to accomplish in the field, given the current business processes and information flow in place. For instance, one needs to know whether current manual safety inspection processes are working well within their environment, or are impacting efficiency due to the large amounts of paperwork involved.

It is important to identify the end user of the system as well as understand their computer proficiency. Next, one will need to determine whether the application will improve the existing paperwork flow or make it worse.

It is a good idea to compare features offered by different solution providers and evaluate them to find the best match for the business’ needs. One can evaluate key differentiators between various solution packages to identify an app that offers significantly better value than competing products in terms of functionality, ease of use and price.

Determine the best value and fit by evaluating important factors such as the solution’s ability to be tailored to meet unique requirements as well as the final cost. Choosing a solution that matches existing business processes as much as possible will ensure smooth implementation. It is also important to know whether the solution can be expanded in terms of functionality without hidden module charges, costs and complexities.

One needs to confirm with the provider whether the package includes future software releases and upgrades without excessive additional charges. The app should also be able to operate on different mobile platforms from Android tablets and iPads to smart phones and PDAs.

Finally, the solution must meet budget limits.

Maintaining a focused approach while selecting a safety inspection package will ensure that the solution is right for the business’ needs. 

Techs4Biz Australia develops and sells technology solutions for improving work related activities and processes, managing and tracking corporate resources, along with combining software with handheld devices. Techs4Biz’s Pervidi solution enables a shift in focus from paper-based administrative tasks to improved management and informed decision-making by migrating from manual activities to automated practices.

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