Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Inspection Software for Handheld PDAs in Mobile Environments

Many inspection services companies work in mobile and rugged environments. They invest time and money into traveling to the point of work. The more time traveling, the less time providing inspection services. In this blog article we will discuss some strategies for saving time, reducing expenses and providing more services using mobile handheld PDA and mobile software technologies.

Many inspections are follow-up inspections or reoccurring inspections on a schedule. In these kinds of inspections the inspector must reference previous inspection data. If the previous inspections were conducted on paper, then the inspector must acquire a copy of these previous inspections to take with them on the next visit. This often requires extra costs associated with driving time, gas and missed opportunity costs (less time inspecting and getting paid).

I remember working with a state agency responsible for inspecting professional licenses and premises. In order to perform their tasks, they were required to drive into the main office, rummage through paper files, remove these paper files and load them into a box to take with them to the inspection sites. They would use a carriage with wheels to transport this box to their automobiles. Let's pause a moment to think of the costs and inefficiencies of these task. They did the following:
  • Drove to the main office where previous inspections were stored
  • Sorted through file cabinets for previous inspection results
  • Read through these files to determine any previous non-compliance or failed inspection issues.
  • Recorded issues and highlighted them for review at the site
  • Loaded these files into a box and carried them out to their vehicles
  • Re-inspected the site and recorded more information on new forms
  • Added new paper forms to the files
  • Drove back to the main office
  • Administration staff typed all the information from the new forms into a database system on a desktop computer

A simple database synchronization with a handheld PDA, laptop or Tablet PC from the field could have completed most of the above tasks in seconds. The inefficiencies listed above are not uncommon. Inspection software applications can be developed that synchronize directly to the central database. Queries on past inspections can quickly provide historic inspection data at the point of work without all the extra expense of driving to the office and manually searching through file cabinets. The time re-typing inspection data can be eliminated as well.

In these times of economic challenges, companies are looking for ways to do more with less. Mobile solutions can provide many cost savings and allow companies to conduct more services with less resources. For more information on mobile inspection solutions please contact MobileDataforce.