A recent study of enterprise asset management (EAM) and computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software by Brookfield, Wis.-based IFS North America concluded that 75 percent of users have little to no mobile access to data kept in such software. Only 34 percent of 200 executives at industrial companies surveyed reported using handheld mobile devices to perform work in these systems.
“The study indicates that those who limit remote access to connection solutions like VPN tend to be less likely to report high levels of access and are less likely to be working in the software from a handheld device,” said IFS North America’s vice president for energy and asset management, Patrick Zirnhelt.
In the study’s report, titled Mobility in Enterprise Asset Management Software, IFS North America wrote that third-party connection tools “presents a number of drawbacks including an intolerance for interruptions in wireless service, performance and speed issues and additional licensing costs. This may prevent full adoption, particularly in environments where connectivity is a challenge including mining, oil and gas and large scale manufacturing where equipment may interfere with wireless signals.”
IFS North America’s data indicate that of those that use mobile technology to access maintenance data, nearly half (48 percent) employ third-party VPN connection tools. Meanwhile, 19 percent use homegrown mobility apps and 26 percent use direct integrations into their databases.
The report continued that mobile access provides opportunities for maintenance efficiencies:
When working across large plants and facilities, mobility allows staff to send updates or report on maintenance work on the spot, without having to return to a hub location to check spare parts inventory or look up technical information… Mobility can also help deliver greater workforce productivity by logging status updates and delivering routing information to workers… Most people who will use a mobile device in these environments will be technical staff. They’re typically somewhat averse to paperwork and administrative tasks.
Delving further, IFS North America found that other systems, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and supply chain management (SCM) software, are in use for mobile access to maintenance data. Mobile access quality among ERP and SCM systems in use had polarized views, predominantly rated as either “okay” or “poor.”
The study noted that, in addition to the method and quality of remote connection, mobile apps make up “a key criteria in determining how well mobility is leveraged in an EAM software environment” and expects more companies to have their software vendors develop native apps for mobile phones, interfaces designed for touch-screen devices like tablets, and native apps for handheld industrial devices used by technicians in demanding environments.
For other data results and determinations made as a result of the study, visit IFS’s site to download the free report.