Driving up asset availability with mobile work order management
As part of a wider programme aimed at modernising London’s transport network, Transport for London (TfL) has empowered its maintenance teams by equipping them with modern smartphone technologies.
By harnessing the flexibility of Affinity Fieldreach® from AMT-SYBEX, TfL has rolled out mobile asset management apps on the iOS platform to over 500 engineers working on the Tube.
By the end of the year it is anticipated that more than 1,500 users will benefit from a wide range of Fieldreach-enabled asset management and inspection processes running on this new mobile platform.
TfL sees the potential of mobile technologies to transform the way it manages London’s transport network – and helping maintenance teams to work more efficiently is a significant element of that vision. The availability and affordability of the latest generation of smartphones meant the time was right.
TfL is working with AMT-SYBEX to deploy a range of mobile working applications on the iOS platform, using Affinity Fieldreach to deliver seamless access to work orders and asset data, and provide advanced data-capture capabilities. More than 500 front-line maintenance personnel are already able to receive, review and complete their work on site via their iPhones and iPads, eliminating time-consuming paper-based processes.
- Helps maintenance teams work more efficiently by reducing the need to “return to base” between jobs.
- Accelerates data collection, giving maintenance teams more time to focus on the assets themselves, rather than paperwork.
- Reduces the delay in providing work and asset data from the field, leading to more timely and efficient management reporting
- Improves back-office efficiency by eliminating the need to re-key data from paper forms into asset management systems.
- Increases both the quality and quantity of data on individual assets, providing a better basis for analysis and laying the foundation for more predictive and preventive maintenance.
Created in 2000 as part of the Greater London Authority, Transport for London (TfL) is responsible for managing London’s public transport system. With more than 28,000 employees, the organisation supports more than 24 million journeys each day via the city’s buses, Tube network, Docklands Light Railway, Overground and Tramlink.
With the number of customer journeys increasing year-on-year, TfL has begun a major transformation programme to enhance its capacity and ensure an excellent level of service delivery. One of the key objectives is to ensure that hundreds of thousands of assets across the transport network are kept in good condition and able to support reliable operations – but paper-based approaches to asset maintenance were making this a challenge.
Robert Alonso, London Underground, Performance and Systems Manager, says:
“In the past, our maintenance teams had to fill out paperwork on-site, and the data they collected then had to be re-keyed manually into our Ellipse asset management system. This not only duplicated effort – it also increased the risk of introducing errors, which could potentially reduce our ability to assess the condition of assets and make effective maintenance plans.”
TfL knew that mobile solutions could offer a better way for field teams to view and collect data, but without an overall strategy and roadmap for mobile, it was difficult to ensure the success of a large-scale rollout.
“A few of our teams were already using mobile solutions, but the devices they used were outdated – they were heavy and slow, and the battery life was poor,” says Robert Alonso. “As a result, both the utilisation and uptake of the solutions in the business were low.”
Taking a fresh approach to mobile
TfL created a fresh mobile strategy, which involved the rollout of Wi-Fi connectivity across the transport network.
“We recognised a major opportunity to revitalise our approach to mobile asset management,”
says Robert Alonso.
“After building support from key stakeholders from across the organisation, we secured internal sponsorship for a new solution. We were able to demonstrate that mobile asset management aligned perfectly with TfL’s wider strategy, and secure funding to move ahead with the project.”
Selecting a trusted partner
To help develop a roadmap for mobile solutions in the asset management space, TfL engaged AMT-SYBEX as its trusted partner. Robert Alonso says:
“Of all the suppliers we considered, we were most impressed with the expertise and openness that AMT-SYBEX brought to the table.”
Following an upgrade of the company’s Ellipse asset management system, the time was right to move ahead with an initial deployment of new mobile devices. TfL’s overall mobile strategy was to work with the Apple iOS platform, and the asset management division was able to gain a quick win by re-purposing a cache of iPhones that TfL had originally purchased to support a volunteering initiative during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“Fieldreach provided continuity by enabling us to preserve the data collection ‘scripts’ that we had developed five years ago for the old mobile solution, and port them seamlessly onto iOS,”
says Robert Alonso.
“This meant we didn’t have to re-develop our mobile processes from scratch, we didn’t need to make any changes to any of our systems, and we didn’t have to re-train our users.
The iOS platform offers our users an intuitive, high-performance mobile experience, so the scripts are actually easier to use than ever before. The feedback from the users has been very positive.”
Today, more than 500 users from TfL’s maintenance organisation are using Fieldreach to support their day-to-day maintenance activities – a number expected to rise to 1,500 users by the end of the year.
“TfL’s Fieldreach mobile asset-management solution has been a great success, and uptake from our maintenance teams is extremely high. For those areas that have migrated, 94% of the work is being completed on the mobile device,”
says Robert Alonso.
“For example, the Track Maintenance teams on the Hammersmith and City line are now completing just 2% of their work on paper.”
Boosting efficiency, reducing time-to-fix
Because maintenance teams can now receive work orders, view asset information and submit data directly into the asset management system via their mobile devices, TfL will soon be able to retire most of its paper-based maintenance and inspection processes.
Robert Alonso says:
“Reducing the need to manually re-enter data from paper forms into the asset management solution has increased our efficiency both in the office and out in the field. Anecdotal evidence suggests that freeing up our engineers from all the paperwork allows them to focus on their core role – asset maintenance – and helps them get through more jobs in the same time.”
“It also helps them work more efficiently, because there is no need to return to base to drop off documentation or pick up new jobs. For example, if a team visits a site and finds out that for some reason it’s impossible for them to complete the job they’ve been sent to do, our planning department can now instantly send them an alternative job, and push the relevant information directly to their mobiles.”
Ready for the future
The Fieldreach solution is also laying the foundation for future enhancements to TfL’s asset management processes.
Rolled out to more users the solution will extend from Track and Civils to encompass Signals, Stations, Fleet and Power. The business processes covered will also extend to raising defects, inspections, condition recording, materials, asset data validation and asset reliability.
“The move from paper processes to the mobile solution is helping us to increase both the quality and quantity of our asset data,”
concludes Robert Alonso.
“By collecting more complete, accurate and up-to-date data about our assets, we will be able to carry out more effective analytics, which will support our ‘predict and prevent’ initiative for more proactive asset management. Increasing the proportion of preventative maintenance is a powerful method of boosting asset availability, and we believe that Fieldreach will be a key enabler of TfL’s wider transformation objectives.”