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Digital Logs Enhance Maintenance Efficiency

By Adrian Duigan | May 16, 2019
Digital maintenance logs help planning

Equipment maintenance planning is incredibly complex. It requires tracking hours and suggested service schedules on each individual asset a company owns, keeping up with unexpected breakdowns and job order requests, maintaining an inventory of spare parts, scheduling maintenance technicians, coordinating with on-site managers and everything in between. 

Adrian Duigan is a product marketing manager at Teletrac Navman. Used with permission.

We recently conducted nearly 100 construction site visits and conversations to better understand pain points of day-to-day operations. We uncovered something that was making maintenance even harder for most companies: manual maintenance logs. 

Many maintenance managers rely on a massive collection of paper logs or books and then use index cards, whiteboards, or excel spreadsheets to plan and track maintenance schedules.

As a result, most feel like they just can’t be proactive and forward-looking. Rather, they’re reactive to issues, inadvertently missing service milestones, trying to respond to breakdowns and chasing down equipment locations to service them quickly. 

Challenges with paper maintenance logs

Riffling through inspection books and paper records to build a maintenance schedule is time-intensive and inefficient. Sure, it’s simple and it may be what operators and technicians are used to, but managers are left piecing together disjointed information from disparate sources. They often find gaps, inaccuracies and even illegible entries. Sometimes entire reports are missing. 

With paper logs and inspections usually only collected once a day or at the end of the week, urgent maintenance requests are often delayed or managers lack confirmation that inspections and maintenance has actually been completed. 

The lack of insight into priorities across the entire fleet may be the biggest challenge with paper-based maintenance. It makes planning ahead nearly impossible. 

What is a digital maintenance log?

Imagine all the data a maintenance manager could possibly need displayed in a single view. That’s what a digital maintenance log provides. It puts the entire history of each piece of equipment, engine hours, daily inspection reports, current location and upcoming service needs online, for on-demand and real-time access. 

Once everything is stored electronically, managers can sort, search and filter by any category or criteria - asset, location, task, deadline and more. No more flipping through books and manually entering data into Excel or some other paper tracker to identify maintenance needs. 

This capability is what allows fleets to move from reactive to proactive and preventative maintenance planning

Setting an effective & proactive maintenance schedule 

It’s not just the digital view that improves the process. Digital maintenance logs and equipment maintenance software become even more powerful through notifications and alerts. Fleets can prevent avoidable instances of breakdowns by setting up reminders and alerts for when assets need service based on time spent in use or calendar days - for factory-recommended or a company’s own custom timeline. 

Between these notifications and a fleet-wide view into all upcoming service needs and requests, maintenance managers can better assign work orders and create an efficient maintenance schedule. They can more easily coordinate with site, project and equipment managers to schedule and access equipment for servicing at the most opportune time. 

Consider this example: a maintenance manager gets an alert that a skid steer needs an oil change in two weeks. They contact the site manager to find a good time to schedule a technician visit and learn the project is currently on delay but will resume in one week. Rather than wait, they put in a work order and complete the maintenance slightly ahead of time. This avoids cutting into additional project time or delaying the maintenance, which could cause a breakdown. 

Maintenance managers are typically measured on KPIs such as uptime, service costs and efficient service times. Paper maintenance logs just aren’t conducive to improving those metrics. With paper records, there’s no truly productive way to see when inspections and servicing is due or plan ahead.

Digitizing maintenance logs allows fleets to build a comprehensive list of every past service and a calendar of upcoming needs. Using these tools, they can prioritize work, plan preventative maintenance and create an efficient and effective fleet-wide plan that maximizes equipment uptime, increases asset lifetime and creates safer worksite conditions. 

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