Well, a few months ago I settled on Updated link: Best CMMS as my CMMS software of choice. I am still very pleased with the choice. Now it is even better, with the introduction of the world's first offline mobile CMMS software. Worlds only truly offline mobile CMMS is 'MC Everywhere' a product of Asset Pro Solutions Inc, specifically in their division 'Maintenance Connection Canada'.
When your mobile device is disconnected from the internet, whether it is because you have a bad internet connection (off entirely or too far from any tower) or because you have a spotty intermittent internet - you still need to get your work done.
While inside a nice building with lots of WiFi you might not have lousy internet access, if you, or your workers are in any of a number of locations where they have poor internet - you still want them to be able to read their work orders, and enter changes to the assets, work orders and inventory, adding costs, making a record of what work was done, checking off completed tasks. Having to leave the area with crappy internet and return to a location that has solid internet access is a waste of time and likely to cause many errors. You could carry paper and pen when you know you will be in a place with spotty internet or completely disconnected from the internet - and with almost every CMMS system out there you have no choice. But with Maintenance Connection Canada's offline mobile CMMS application you don't have to.
If you are a manager and always work from an office, you may not be aware of some of the very common places - well you may know a few! Look around your office and see if any of these are areas that work would normally be done in - or it would be good if work could be done in them. If you have ones to add to the list - please let me know, I'd be happy to update this with additional ones.
- In the board room. This is an area that currently (2013) is improving, but for most, internet access is often lost in these rooms.
- In convention centers, airports and hotels. Convention centers are almost always spotty, some seats have access, many rooms have no access.
- In washrooms. Now, I'm not trying to advocate for your staff to work while visiting the restroom - but your plumbers, electricians and cleaning staff often will work in these locations - and due to the walls, water (water blocks WiFi), metal pipes, and just a general lack of making sure they have WiFi, these areas often have either no internet access or spotty connectivity.
- Cement walls and floors. While cement, if not too thick, only blocks a bit of signal, concrete walls and floors usually have a lot of metal (rebar) in them.
- Parking Garage. Lots of work goes on in these large areas of concrete and rebar - and they almost never have even spotty internet. You might be able to find specific locations (by doors) that will give you intermittent access - if you hold your phone in exactly the right location.
- On the roof of your building. Lots of reasons why not, not least of which: no one thought about it when installing wireless receivers - and they often have their antennas designed, logically enough, to point down, and the ceiling, and indeed the roof itself, has a lot of metal and concrete signal blocking. On taller buildings you even block cell signals.
- The boiler room - between all the normal reasons why no one bothered to try to get network access to the boiler room you also have the walls, the metal and, if it is a literal boiler room, the water in the boiler - water is one of the best signal absorbers.
- While we are talking water ... if you have large aquariums in the office, there will usually be large areas with no WiFi signal - wherever the aquarium(s) are between the WiFi router and the person trying to get internet access.
- Elevator - a big metal 'signal blocking' device surrounded by a shaft that is often metal and/or cement lined. Update 2015: Some companies are now putting in WiFi routers and/or Cell repeaters at the top of each elevator shaft or in the roof of the elevator car to resolve this problem. But if you don't have that - having a offline mobile cmms is a great solution - and costs a lot less - and has many other benefits in many other locations.
- On the Shop floor. One of the most important places to have your CMMS working ... the shop floor with all it's metal is difficult to get WiFi signal. Even if you put up a dozen routers, as you move around or work under equipment you will find your network access to be intermittent at best, completely gone at worst.
- Warehouse: Every try to do an inventory count? You have to have an offline inventory count device - often you carry a trolley around with a full windows computer on it. So much more convenient to have a mobile device with offline CMMS software
- In storage lockers
- In trucks, cars, airplanes, boats: not that we are advocating use while driving, definitely not! but any mobile vehicle will definitely give you intermittent internet at best - often disconnected for longer periods of time.
- In 'the yard': Again - have you installed WiFi routers in yard, if you have - how much of the yard do they actually cover, how often do you go behind something and lose access
I hope I've convinced you that there are many areas in your work life or the work life of your technicians that network access simply isn't available. Indeed CMMS systems are one of the ones that, more than almost any other software solution, really need offline mobile solutions to really get value from the product.
It is therefore really surprising, dare I say shocking, that no CMMS system has had any offline mobile solution. Update 2016: Maintenance Connection Canada's is still the only company that we have found that has a true offline mobile solution. (We have seen a couple where you fill in the form and, as long as you don't navigate anywhere else in the application, and you wait to save until you are back with internet access and you didn't time out on the server - you will usually not lose your data. But that is too many caveats to really call it an offline solution, that is an online solution that for a few seconds, if you are careful, can temporarily lose connection. Imagine your frustration if you enter in a half hour's worth of work, then hit submit and find you lost all your work because you timed out or because you didn't get back into solid internet access
How did the one solution come about? Well I admit, I had a role in it. I was asked to help build an add-on to maintenance connection that would run on the palm pilot - and that would allow me to use it as well. Several months later (2013), some tricky decisions as to how to offline and sync and what to and not to include on the tiny restrictive Palm Pilot screen and voila - the world's first offline mobile work order software!
Published: 2013.Aug.15 Last edited: 2013.Aug.15
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