Maximize Mobile Service in 3 Steps

When it comes to deploying a truly successful mobile workforce, do you lead the pack, or trail behind?

Mobile productivity boils down to providing constant, reliable access to remote data. At a high level, preventing barriers to this kind of data is actually a platform-independent practice. Whether you use Android or iOS, if your mobile workforce can’t connect to answers from absolutely anywhere, then they can’t be truly productive.

What 3 best practices determine if your mobile workers have the answers they need? Click Here


The Dozen Challenges To Successful Mobile Deployment eBook

As wireless network capacity expands and mobile devices become more powerful, enterprises are able to bring full application access directly to mobile

Those workers roam across multiple networks, use multiple connection types and encounter coverage gaps, all while expecting the same reliable, continuously available acess to network resources that they experience in the office… Click Here


Fleet Management Refresh Eliminates Inefficiencies, Expands Functionality

A new real-time GPS solution has helped this fire protection company reduce speeding and idling, while cutting the cost of its tracking system in half.

For a commercial building owner, sprinklers and fire alarms are critical systems. The consequences of broken equipment can be dire, so when there is a problem, customers want to know that a service technician will arrive quickly.

Baltimore-based Fireline Corp. has been in business since 1947, providing a variety of fire protection services including engineering and design, installation, inspection and testing, and service and repair of fire alarm, fire suppression, and sprinkler systems. The company employees 100 service technicians who spend the bulk of their day on the road, traveling between customer locations.

Ensuring the techs arrive at jobs in a timely manner isn’t Fireline’s only objective, though. Driving behavior has always been a key concern for Fireline, both because the technicians and the vehicles represent the company in public and because speeding and hard braking cost the company money — erratic, risky driving can lead to increased maintenance and fuel expenses, in addition to costly insurance claims and speeding tickets.

When Bill Gibb, materials resource manager at Fireline, took over fleet management at the company several years ago, upgrading Fireline’s ability to track its vehicles was one of his top priorities. Up to that point, the company had used a GPS solution that provided location updates every four minutes. “That might not seem like long, but a lot can happen in four minutes on the highway,” Gibb says. “I wanted something more proactive so we could get updates to us as soon as possible.”

Seeking Fleet Management That Goes Beyond The Basics
The previous solution provided location and vehicle speed information, but that was it. While Gibb was looking for a new solution, GPS provider TomTom Telematics approached the company and offered its fleet management system. According to Gibb, the system not only provided greater, more up-to-the-minute visibility, it did so at a much lower cost. “Once I saw what it could do, I talked to the owner about it,” Gibb says. “The previous solution was very expensive, and we were paying a monthly fee, plus a fee for a phone connection. It was twice what we’re paying now with the new solution.”

Fireline installed the TomTom LINK 300 device on its 100-vehicle fleet. The company deployed the new units as the contracts on the older system expired. The new units are mounted on the dash inside the cab of the trucks.

The TomTom device registers vehicle position, trip information, standstill times, mileage, and driving behavior. Fireline managers can access the data via the TomTom WEBFLEET online portal. The solution has provided real-time visibility of the fleet, along with up-to-date maps and live traffic updates. “The traffic updates are really helpful. I can let our guys know if there is a backup on the beltway,” Gibb says.

Real-Time Visibility Helps Reduce Speeding, Idling
Fireline uses the data from the GPS system to proactively work with drivers to correct poor driving behaviors. Each day, drivers (and managers) receive a report showing where they were the previous day. Once per week the managers get an excessive speed report, and the owner of the company receives an excessive speed and event report that includes hard braking or hard steering events. “That indicates extra wear on the vehicles that we don’t need,” Gibb says. “We track how many miles the vehicles have traveled for maintenance, and if they come in early, we look at the driving record. We can tell the driver, ‘We have to do this maintenance early because of the way you are driving the truck.’”

Fireline was also able to use the solution to reduce idle time. By working with drivers, the company reports that the average idle time is now less than 30 minutes per vehicle, per day across the company, which Gibb feels is right on target. “There are times they have to let the vehicles idle because of the weather or because of the job,” Gibb says. “We have seen a reduction, but when the weather is very hot or very cold, they have to idle — it’ll never be eliminated completely.”

The service department manager can easily see where each vehicle is in the case of an emergency call. In the past, the manager would have had to call the technicians on the phone to check their location. “She can look on a map and see who is closest to the call,” Gibb says. “We’re in the fire protection business, so when people are calling with a broken sprinkler head, they want you there now. This helps us get there faster.”

With a monitoring solution in place, driver behaviors have improved. That, in turn, has helped improve the company’s image, Gibb says. Every one of Fireline’s trucks is marked with an 800 number for other motorists to use when the vehicles aren’t being operated safely. According to Gibb, the company used to receive several complaints per month about its drivers. With the GPS solution in place, those calls have almost stopped completely.

The solution has also reduced theft. “There have been times when a driver has bought gas for their personal vehicle and claimed they put it in the Fireline vehicle,” Gibb says. “We can show them where the Fireline truck was when they used the gas card. We terminated one employee who was abusing the gas card because we could track what he was doing.”

The drivers carry smartphones and laptops that they use to complete inspection documents and reports, but Gibb says the company has no current plans to integrate the GPS solution with a mobile dispatch solution. “Our game plan is to stay with what we’re doing and keep an eye on the technology to see what’s coming down the road,” Gibb says. “Being able to track our speeding and driving and getting real-time data has improved how we operate.”

Announcing EMEA Enterprise APPFORUM 2014, 18-20th November, Brussels.

Enterprise-AppForum2014---800x165px-Word-Header-HWv03-2.jpgAnnouncing Enterprise APPFORUM 2014,  18-20th November, Brussels. Developing Enterprise Apps in a converging mobile world. Motorola Solutions AppForum is in its fifth year and if you are considering developing mobile apps for the enterprise then it’s not to be missed. Three days of technical sessions, interactive workshops, discussion groups and networking with your peers. Join Motorola Solutions at AppForum 2014 this November 18-20th in Brussels to develop now for tomorrow.


  • Informative presentations by Motorola’s global experts
  • Guest presentations from industry gurus
  • Discussions and networking with your peers from other companies and countries
  • A chance to show off your skills and win a prize in our Hackathon
  • Opportunity for 1-1 interactive sessions with our core product development team
  • AppForum Bar Camp – opportunity to present to your fellow developers, or just to listen to others
  • A great time at our ever-popular “Games Night” – including Table Football competition
  • Genuine Belgian waffles, and maybe some local beers…(not that we would imply that this is a valid reason to attend of course)

Automating using mobile devices

Automating using mobile devicesWhile automation has become an important aspect of performing inspections servicing and repairs, many organisations still perform ‘paper-based’ inspections, work order and repairs, and subsequently scan the paperwork or manually enter the data into a database or spreadsheet.

Many people ask me if a tablet or iPad can be used to digitise and automate the recording of inspections, servicing and repairs. In short, the clear answer is:Yes.

Most tablets operate on Android (Google) or iOS (Apple) operating systems and are very similar in terms of functionalities such as battery life, imaging capabilities and durability.

A paperless system on tablets should provide information that already exists on paper forms or Excel spreadsheets, and at the same time improve the technician’s ability to access and utilise the data.

For example, if a HVAC technician fills out a report providing specific information on a Water Cooled Unit Inspection, the paperless solution application on the tablet should fulfil the same function.

The technician should be able to pick from a list of possible choices, using speech to text to add comments or type in information required using the device’s keyboard.

Paperless inspection and servicing software on a mobile device makes current, past, and future information accessible and easy to use, and can deliver the following functionalities:

  • List all information required by technicians to perform their tasks including questionnaires, parts, possible results/outcomes, acceptable threshold values (for collecting field data), etc.
  • Enable technicians to record recommendations and/or create new corrective tasks.
  • Produce reports, certificates or invoices as required in the field.
  • Send the information to the customer and/or the office in real time.
  • Use barcodes or RFID if required to identify the equipment.
  • Use the camera to take pictures of defects and ability to annotate the picture in the field.
  • Easy access to manuals and instruction on the tablet. Paperless inspection systems on mobile devices can also include validations that allow or disallow data entry, plus they can provide the user with historical information pertaining to previous work on particular pieces of equipment.

Paperless application can also utilise the device’s features such as the camera, GPS, RFID and barcode reader, and the clock (for automatic date and time stamp) enabling quick identification of equipment, identify points of entry and exit, improve efficiency, and minimise human errors.

The database (backend) 

To maximise utilisation and ROI, paperless applications should not be stand-alone. They should be designed from the outset to collect information, display and manipulate information, and transfer information to and from a database seamlessly.

The database application should provide a variety of operational and management functions including scheduling, tracking, corrective actions, client access, trend and forecasts, management functions, reports, and analysis tools.

By using tablets in conjunction with server software, the system can automatically transfer data from the tablet to the database without the need for further data entry or ‘manual’ data reformulation.

As well as simplifying repeatable tasks and providing staff with easy to use tools that focus on performing tasks, the system can incorporate mechanisms that focus on exceptions and ensure proper execution of tasks, including automatic listing of activities, reminders, alerts, escalation procedures, and easy access to information, ensuring that inspections, servicing and repairs are performed according to guidelines, codes and regulations.

Finding the right system 

First, users should determine what they want the system to do, and make sure they understand their current processes and information flow.

They should list things that work well within their current process and things that they would like to improve, with a focus on the process and NOT on the software or computers.

Users should prioritise potential improvement areas and describe a short scenario where improvements can achieve their objectives. For example, minimising unnecessary administrative tasks such as rescheduling inspections, or performing unnecessary data entry by office staff.

Users should then answer the following questions: Who will use the system? How computer proficient are the users? What are the procedures for paperwork flow? Will the software improve this flow or make it worse?

Next users should evaluate features offered by different paperless system providers and compare them to their needs. They should create a list of desired features so they can compare ‘apples to apples’ without getting confused (or blindsided) by the different vendor presentations.

When reviewing brochures offered by vendors or when speaking with sales people, it is sometimes difficult to clearly identify the differences between the packages. However, certain packages offer significantly better value than their competitors in terms of functionalities, ease of use, and price.

The differences between packages can be highlighted in the following areas:

  • How comprehensive is their system and is it easy-to-learn and easy-to-use?
  • How easily does the tablet integrate with the desktop/server component, and does the package enable multiple activities such as inspections, repairs etc.?
  • Does the package enable efficient execution of activities? For example, adding a new inspection ‘in the field’ should be quick, easy, and should require minimal effort.
  • Does the solution minimise unnecessary administrative tasks such as reminders and repetitive activities? For example, alerts, automatic quotes, escalation procedures and other exceptions should be automated. Inspection due dates should be automatically calculated based on pre-set schedules, etc.
  • Does it include management functions, reports, KPIs, queries and exceptions?
  • Can the solution help planning and can it highlight problem areas?

Finally, users should determine the best value and fit, and include in their evaluation factors such as the ability to tailor a solution to their needs and the cost of the solution.

Maintaining a focused approach is the best way to select a paperless inspection package that is right for a company’s needs, and by researching and evaluating options users can avoid regretting hasty decisions later.