Improving Safety Management with Mobile Field Service Software

field_tech_tower_safetySafety management is an important aspect of field service delivery. It is comprised of policies, plans, procedures, and organizational responsibilities that are designed to keep employees safe, manage risk and adhere to industry regulations.

Large field service organizations rely on sophisticated safety management systems to help them better manage safety and ensure their controls meet specific standards. The aviation industry, for example, follows the FAA’s safety management framework. Other federal regulating agencies, including the EPA, NRC, and Mining Health and Safety Administration (MSHA), have their own environment, health and safety (EHS) frameworks.

For field service organizations that operate in heavy or high-risk industries, such as aviation, rail, oil and gas, telecom, and power generation, safety management is critical. If not executed properly, it can have costly impacts on the field force, the organization, its customers, and the environment. An organization’s reputation in the industry and, ultimately, profitability, will be significantly impacted.

Take, for example, a recent incident at an Oklahoma drilling rig site where an explosion killed five workers. According to the EHS Today article, the companies involved failed to maintain proper controls, failed to perform the proper inspections, used unapproved equipment, and failed to implement emergency response plans.

Fortunately, there are many technology tools available that can help improve safety management within a field service organization. The latest technologies include IoT, AI, wearables and virtual reality, GPS, GIS, vehicle tracking systems, geofencing, location-based services, and sensor-based technologies (RFID, NFC).

Mobile field service software — software that allows organizations to design and deploy their own field service apps — is also a high-value technology more field service leaders are using to improve safety management metrics within their organizations.

Since non-destructive testing and inspections are performed in hazardous areas and on potentially dangerous equipment like oil rigs and cell towers, the ability to track field techs and notify them of potential hazards is critical to keeping them safe. Mobile field service software allows an organization to configure and deploy mobile apps that use GPS to keep track of where field techs are as well as the locations of your assets and equipment. Using mobile field service software, field service managers and dispatchers can send field techs in harm’s way push notifications to immediately alert them of danger.

Using mobile field service software, field teams can design and deploy mobile apps that make audits and inspections much easier for field technicians to perform. Work is done quickly and safely with less paper and less hassle. Field techs can be more aware of their surroundings and avoid dangerous situations.

Mobile field service software can also improve safety management by allowing the organization to deploy mobile apps that enforce that inspections and audits are being performed correctly. This is done by incorporating a user-friend interface that is easy for field techs to follow. Validation rules are used to make sure all required information is captured and that steps are performed in the proper order. This improves compliance with safety regulations and prevents further incidents from occurring.

For field techs and engineers who must operate in tight, uncomfortable places like underground tunnels, deep within buildings, or atop cellular towers, giving them tools to capture asset and equipment data quickly and accurately is an ideal way to ensure safety. Using mobile field service software, field service organizations can also deploy mobile apps that take advantage of device-native capabilities like barcode, RFID, or NFC scanning.

One of our telecom customers, for example, uses NFC technology to allow field techs to easily track and interact with underground network cables. The techs can simply get their mobile device within the proper range and the app captures the necessary data from the NFC chip on the network cable. Techs can move through their operations quickly and don’t have to maneuver in potentially unsafe areas.

Another safety benefit that mobile field service software provides is the ability to deploy mobile apps that operate offline. This allows field techs in remote locations to timestamp when inspections or tests actually occurred. This results in improved compliance and allows organizations to be proactive when repairs need to be made or a piece of equipment needs to be taken offline before something bad happens. On a high-value asset like a natural gas pipeline or an oil rig, getting the repairs or preventative maintenance done and back in compliance is paramount.

Safety management is a major topic for field service organizations and for good reason. According to recent statistics, the death of one employee could cost an organization $1 million in direct costs and millions more in indirect costs, to say nothing of the loss of life. Take advantage of the technologies available to your field service organization and improve your field service organization’s safety metrics across the board.

To learn more about how mobile field service software can help your safety management program, contact us.

To learn how one of our customers, Applus-RTD, improved safety within their organization, read this case study.