Friday, August 03, 2007

Inspection Data Requires Visibility and Handheld PDAs Can Help

I was in the Benelux working with a large Fortune 1000 company on a global inspection project involving over 500 inspectors. One of the motivations for the project was to ensure that the inspection data that was collected was synchronized from the mobile handheld computers directly to a database that could be viewed and analyzed by management in near real time. Previously, when inspections were completed on paper forms - the paper forms were simply filed in a cabinet. The only forms reviewed by management were those with a very, very bad scores. That meant nearly all the collected data was trapped on a paper form and stuffed in a dark file cabinet unavailable for easy viewing, distribution and analysis. The problem with not viewing the data that is collected is that trends and patterns can not be recognized and corrected in advance. There was a lot of money spent collecting inspection data that could not be acted upon in a preventative manner.
This week's bridge collapse in Minneapolis brought the Benelux example to mind. Seems there had been many inspections, but obviously the data was not being viewed by the right parties in a manner that would motivate preventative action.