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Mobile Form Factor in a Paperless Environment
Now that we have covered the benefits of leveraging technology for maintenance and calibration along with some of the necessary components and specific functionality of paperless systems, we will dive into mobile form factor in a paperless environment.

Mobile Coverage in the Field
As we have seen in many facilities, the use of wireless network access (or even cellular access) has become ubiquitous. Wireless network access within a facility can drastically improve the success of your paperless processes by creating hi-tech environments that allow maintenance and calibration technicians to record work and results remotely – out on the floor.

When we discuss mobile coverage used in paperless processes, we are specifically referring to the usage of different mobile form factors that aid in the completion of work and the execution of a seamless paperless system. These form factors typically include:

  • Laptops
  • Mobile Phones
  • Handheld Devices
  • Tablets

Laptops
Laptops have a strong history and are proven useful as a mobile form factor.  Because most laptops can support various forms of input devices including keyboards and barcode scanners, they can offer full access to software programs and ease of use for technicians.  However, despite this, laptops are bulky and often times are not easy to transport. 

iPads and Other Tablets
Tablets are the fastest growing mobile form factor for GMP environments because they are big enough to provide technicians with ease of access to procedures and templates but are also small and mobile which creates convenience, ease of use and technician buy in. By being larger than a smartphone, but smaller than a laptop, tablets are able to be used to do complicated work tasks and access all types of data. Other mobile form factors do not generate the same acceptance rates among technicians or offer the same functionality.  

With increased ability for IT departments to manage Apple iPads, many companies are switching to paperless data capture with the use of an iPad.

Smartphones
Smartphones provide a simple solution when doing a single task or looking up a piece of information. However, they are difficult for technicians to utilize and access measurement data templates, work plan templates and other procedures.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
We do not see the Bring Your Own Device policy as a growing trend in FDA regulated industries because of the need for heightened security levels, accountability and BYOD related compliance concerns.

Examples of Mobile Devices in the Field
Mobile devices can be used for any functions depending on your business models. These are common examples of the uses of mobile devices by both maintenance and calibration technicians.

The use of mobile devices allow Maintenance Technicians to:

  • View SOPs and work instructions on a mobile device, mark the steps as complete and/or sign off on steps
  • Review and evaluate work requests on the floor, approve or disapprove the request and schedule a follow up activity remotely
  • Evaluate, update and complete work through the use of a mobile device
  • Locate equipment and spare parts remotely
  • View a schedule of upcoming work

The use of mobile devices allows Calibration Technicians to:

  • Record measurement data while it is being measured
  • Validate measurements as they are being completed and entered (check out the example in our blog on work execution)
  • View a schedule of upcoming work
  • Sign off on completed and reviewed work

Benefits
The benefits of going paperless with mobile devices include:

  • Improved Compliance through the use of Work Execution tools, such as work plan templates and measurement data templates. These tools improve consistency and accountability of completed work by requiring specific, controllable steps and sign offs.
  • Increased Productivity – technicians will have all of the necessary procedures and tools for completing work as well as the ability to initiate automatic workflows for e-signatures and review processes.
  • No paper is needed.
  • Site wide Metrics and KPI’s – By storing all data from the technicians for both calibration and maintenance work done in the field, managers can create unique reporting capabilities in real-time across multiple sites. Below are common examples of metrics that you can utilize with this data. This example is of two reports: calibration trending and average days between work:

Click here to view a recorded version of our “Leveraging Technology for Maintenance and Calibration: Going Paperlesswebinar.

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Read the Leveraging Technology for Maintenance and Calibration Series:

Blog 1: Going Paperless

Blog 2: Workflow Automation

Blog 3: Work Execution

Blog 4: Document Storage

Blog 5: Mobile Coverage