Early detection of faulty equipment is a challenging task with paper- based processes. SaaS-based operator rounds solutions help industrial plants and manufacturing facilities improve their operational efficiency and safety. By automating tasks and making data more accessible, SaaS-based operator rounds solutions identify and address problems more quickly. This can lead to reduced downtime, increased productivity, and improved safety.
In this whitepaper, we dig deep into the problems with the legacy operator rounds process and explore how SaaS-based mobile operator rounds can solve those problems. We will also discuss the advantages of using SaaS and Cloud technology for operator rounds, how they help get more accurate data to decision makers faster, and provide a clearer picture of what’s going on in the plant when a shift changeover takes place.
Problems With Paper-Based Operator Rounds
Despite being nearly a quarter of the way into the 21st century, many industrial and manufacturing plants still use a paper-based process to conduct operator rounds and share collected data. This paper- based process offers almost no advantages, especially in a fast- paced environment. Instead, it likely causes as many problems as it solves. Paper-based operator rounds are slow, cumbersome, and frequently inaccurate.
With paper, the operator has to lug around a clipboard or binder, manually entering data – first on the form, then into the back-office ERP. This process means a lot of things can go wrong. For example:
- The clipboard or checklist could be lost or misplaced
- The operator or administrator may not be able to decipher the handwriting
- The operator could be interrupted during the round and forget or overlook a step
- A preventable equipment issue or safety incident could occur during the time it takes to enter paper-based operator rounds information into the back-office system
So, the question arises: Is it worth it to still be using a paper-based process for operator rounds? No, it’s not. Managers and supervisors need a better way to gather, store, and share information during, and after a shift.
Is there a way to accurately gather round information and get it into the hands of managers and supervisors in a timely fashion for rapid action? Is a solution available today that doesn’t require a back-office ERP or a proprietary third-party system and hardware?
And, is there a system that can be used by operators without a lot of training or instruction? Finally, is there a solution that can be deployed quickly without weeks, even months, of testing before it’s ready for use?
Happily, the answer to all of those questions is an emphatic yes.
SAAS-based Mobile Operator Rounds As a Solution
Rather than conducting a round using a paper checklist and clipboard, mobile operator rounds allow an operator to complete the inspection in a 100 percent digital manner – no paper or manual data entry is required. The operator instead uses the convenient portability of a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, to perform the round.
The manager or supervisor can plan, schedule, and issue a round, configuring the digital form to meet the company’s business needs, in just minutes.
Users can quickly and easily create, edit, and deploy digital forms, even if the user has little or no coding, technical knowledge, or experience. In the field, the operator completes the form electronically by checking boxes or filling in fields. The operator cannot skip a step; every portion must be filled in before a round can be finished.
Data is automatically uploaded to the Cloud as it is entered. Managers and supervisors may follow round progress in real-time, gaining valuable visibility into conditions at the plant and a head start on making knowledge-based decisions on potential remedial action to take if needed.
Benefits of Replacing a Legacy System With SaaS-Based Operator Rounds
SaaS-based operator rounds solutions offer numerous advantages over legacy systems. It’s cost-effective, scalable, secure, and compliant and helps organizations improve collaboration and productivity. Let’s look at some of the advantages that SaaS- powered operator rounds bring to industrial plants.
- Cost optimization: SaaS-based operator rounds solutions save the cost of purchasing and maintaining expensive hardware and software, this helps save cost. The ease of access to data also saves time and money in using and analyzing operator rounds data.
- Scalability: SaaS-based solutions are easily scalable. Organizations can easily add or remove users as needed. This is important for businesses that are growing or that experience seasonal fluctuations in traffic.
- Security: SaaS security technologies like two-factor authentication and data encryption while storing and transmitting in the Cloud, makes it more secure than traditional on-premises solutions. With SaaS-based operator rounds, organizations get a centralized data repository with backup that eliminates the need to create backups at the individual plant level. This helps in easy data recovery in case of any unwanted situation/accident at a particular plant level. According to RapidScale, 94% of businesses have seen an improvement in security after switching to SaaS solutions.
- Compliance: SaaS-powered operator rounds help to comply with industry regulations. The SaaS providers’ experience in meeting the requirements of various regulations helps organizations stay compliant with new regulations with ease.
- Remote access: Operator rounds backed by SaaS technology allow anytime anywhere access to data and systems. This is of great use for industrial plants that are spread across geographies. The system also helps frontline workers who are working in remote locations. They can easily access relevant data in case of an emergency.
- Collaboration: The Cloud makes it easy for multiple users to collaborate on data and tasks. Maintenance and operations teams can access and share information with ease easily through the SaaS-based platform. This helps in improving productivity and efficiency.
- Automated reporting and data analytics: SaaS-based systems generate automated reports, which save a lot of time and manual effort. The reports provide actionable insights using which the maintenance teams can plan a better strategy to prevent equipment failure and reduce unplanned downtime.
- Competitive advantage: Despite the growing popularity and its multiple benefits, many organizations still prefer legacy systems. For the enterprises that choose to implement SaaS-based operator rounds, there’s a clear competitive edge that comes with the ease and accessibility that SaaS brings along. By being early adopters, organizations stay ahead of their peers in the market by gaining expertise and maturity in the Cloud-based processes while others just start planning the implementation.
- Upgrades and maintenance: SaaS providers are responsible for upgrading and maintaining the software and hardware that powers organizations’ SaaS-based operator rounds solution. This means that companies don’t need to worry about updates and upgrades.
- Quality control: SaaS allows single-format documentation, which helps eliminate chances of manual errors and inconsistent reporting. Data and information consistency breaks down the information silos, as the system does not allow multiple versions of documents. This in turn eliminates confusion and chances of data dilution.
Paper-based, legacy operator rounds cause process problems that result in a loss of visibility and difficulty in getting data into the hands of decision makers for timely action. SaaS-based operator rounds, meanwhile, deliver a clearer, real-time picture of what’s going on in a plant. They give managers and supervisors the information they need for prompt, knowledge-based decisions.
Written by Sundeep Ravande.
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