This Web exclusive was submitted by Julia Tourianski on behalf of Pervidi, a field service automation provider.
In today’s economic environment, two of the primary objectives for businesses are to improve efficiency and to simplify operations. However, making the decision on what to focus on in order to achieve better results can often be challenging.
Consider some of the factors that contribute to inefficiencies: poor communication, damage and loss, injury, lack of consistency, workers’ morale, and frequent mistakes. It also seems that small problems can add up quickly to create bigger messes.
What are some of the key elements that will save a business time and money?
Regardless of the type of business and industry classification, common-sense processes, standardization, and organized operational activities are simple changes that can produce significant return on investment.
History has proven that standardization leads to growth. One of the reasons attributed to why America superseded English manufacturing in the 19th century is standardization. The same principle can be applied to companies in terms of their processes.
Standardization through automation is a great way for preventing costly mistakes, reducing wasted time, and simplifying everyday workplace processes. Industries such as healthcare, education and real estate greatly benefit from automating processes such as facility management and reoccurring inspections.
Let’s use commercial real estate as an example. Facility and property inspections are an integral part of daily activities of any organization that manages properties, including large retail chains, universities, and property managers. An automated system schedules inspections and provides alerts and reminders ensuring that nothing is missed.
During a paper-based inspection, inspectors may describe deficiencies in numerous ways (some better than others), which can leave things up to interpretation. In comparison, automation creates standard results that reduce guesswork. Using automated systems, inspectors can pick a description from a drop down menu, take a picture, annotate the picture, and write additional comments relating to the found deficiency, making the inspection simple and specific.
Once damage is noted, corrective actions for dealing with deficiencies also become standardized, which helps reduce loopholes and ensure that deficiencies are addressed. A follow up inspection can also be created on the spot and reports, schedules, corrective actions and audits become simple, easy to understand and standardized.
A workplace environment should never be unsafe. This is not only a legal issue but also a cost issue.
Small businesses, large corporations, and everyone in-between needs to remember that cutting down costs doesn’t always involve an elaborate budget plan. Both savings and safety often come from preventive measures such as workplace safety inspections, equipment maintenance, good training, and proper facility management. It is not enough just to comply with these measures; if done properly, they will prevent wasted time, unnecessary costs, and in some cases life-threatening injury.
Let’s take a look at the mining industry. During 2006-2007, there were 69 deaths and 11,800 injuries in the U.S. alone (based on the U.S. Department of Labor). In addition to the important humanitarian factor and the importance of workers’ safety, injuries and death cause significant revenue loss.
“In many cases improved safety performance at mines has also led to increased productivity and output,” states Mining Weekly.
One way to prevent accidents is to reduce human errors. Safety inspectors are human too; whether they are inspecting facilities, vehicles, equipment, or a work site, an honest human mistake can lead to damage, injury, or a life threatening circumstance.
A paper-based safety inspection system is inherently prone to human error. Inspectors using a pen and paper system may file inadequate reports, miss crucial inspection items, or even miss entire inspections. When an accident does occur, checking that the proper safety inspections were completed can be a lengthy process. It can even be a complete waste of time if the paperwork was filled out incorrectly or not at all.
Using a proper safety inspection software and mobile technology allows for versatility and efficiency. Pre-scheduled inspections, easy access to information, and reminders and alerts all help ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. An electronic system significantly increases productivity, since inspectors no longer have large amounts of paperwork or data entry to complete once they return to the office, overall reducing the time it takes to complete the entire inspection and reporting process. It also standardizes the inspection process, which helps achieve a high level of productivity.
Ineffective workplace processes may cripple productivity. The way employees feel coming into work each day plays a crucial role in productivity.
Most people want to work for an efficient company that is growing or improving in some way. Static, slow, problematic or dangerous work brings down moral and kills enthusiasm.
In contrast, empowered workers feel a sense of ownership and perform their duties with more pride and satisfaction. Equipping workers with up-to-date, efficient, and simple systems is key to getting the most out of their skill sets. When a company’s operations are smooth and focused, employees can concentrate on doing their jobs and doing them well.
Tourianski is a freelance writer who covers workplace safety and efficiency. She has written several articles for Techs4Biz Corporation dealing with improving workplace standards in the mining and construction industry.