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Five Key Benefits of Digital Operator Rounds and Inspections

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Five Key Benefits of Digital Operator Rounds and Inspections

Plants struggling with excessive downtime or safety compliance have a powerful new instrument they can add to their toolboxes. Digital Operator Rounds replaces time-consuming, error-prone manual inspections where technicians walk the plant, clipboard in hand. Mobile devices and dynamic forms replace paper in this traditionally laborious chore. Digital Operator Rounds efficiently capture operational and safety data that can be shared in real time with decision makers, empowering fast remedial action.

Facts and Figures: The Case for Digital Operator Rounds

More than two out of every three plants recently surveyed revealed they had no idea when their equipment was due for routine maintenance or important upgrades. It’s no surprise then that 82% of industrial plants have suffered at least one unplanned shutdown in the last three years. Such downtime can run up to $250,000 an hour, and at an average of four hours per shutdown, those costs add up quickly, squeezing already tight profit margins.


Source: Aberdeen Research

On the safety front, industrial plants reported 5,333 workplace deaths and 2.8 million non-fatal injuries in 2019 (the most recent figures available). Most industrial accidents occur due to slips and falls or contact with objects and equipment. Plants are constantly looking for ways to minimize safety risks and the resulting lost work time, fines and penalties.


Source: OSHA

What Are Digital Operator Rounds?

Innovapptive’s Digital Operator Rounds replace error-prone paper checklists with an efficient electronic rounds process utilizing mobile handheld devices (smartphones, tablets, barcode scanners, etc.). Technicians access digital forms on their devices to conduct the inspection rounds. Users can quickly and easily change these dynamic digital forms on the fly to better meet a plant’s situational needs.

Technicians scan equipment barcodes and complete the digital form by checking customized data fields to document present operational status and safety conditions. The inspector can’t advance to the next piece of equipment or location until all fields for the current step are completed as a safeguard (something not present in a paper-based system). Collected data is immediately uploaded electronically into the back-office system. Decision-makers can view inspection data in real time via their mobile device or desktop application and communicate with the technician during the round.

How Digital Operator Rounds Increase Uptime and Boost Plant Safety

How can Digital Operator Rounds help your plant? Here are five crucial areas where this electronic rounds solution can make a significant difference in maintenance activities and safety compliance.

Reduce Preventable Failures – The majority of plant equipment failures are avoidable. Many plants still use a reactive run-to-fail maintenance strategy that delays repairs until something breaks. Digital Operator Rounds enable plants to switch to a more effective preventative maintenance program. A more thorough digital inspection with no skipped steps affords a greater opportunity to catch small equipment problems before they become serious issues that result in failures and breakdowns.  

Reduce Downtime – The average manufacturing plant suffers 800 hours of unscheduled downtime every year. Unplanned shutdowns cost the industry an average of $50 billion every year. This is money siphoned directly away from profit. Run-to-fail maintenance is not an effective strategy for preventing downtime. That’s likely why in Plant Engineering’s 2018 survey, four out of five front-line workers favored preventive maintenance over run-to-fail. More than half also supported predictive maintenance with analytics. 

These strategies offer greater visibility, information, planning and scheduling, and resource allocation capabilities. Digital Operator Rounds further enhances such programs, providing the needed data to improve document management and risk modeling to avoid costly equipment failures and increase uptime and revenues. 

Improve Productivity – Paper-based operator rounds are labor-intensive and time-consuming. The technician has to take time to write down information on a static form and then manually enter the collected data into SAP or another ERP. This time lag introduces a greater chance of error when keying in information. It also takes the technician away from other duties. 

Electronic rounds are conducted completely on a mobile device using dynamic, easily customized forms. This allows forms to be changed on the fly to better meet specific plant needs. Data is automatically uploaded into the back-office system in real time (or if done offline, whenever a connection is made). The rounds are faster and more thorough (as no step can be skipped), freeing the inspector for other duties much quicker than with a paper-based system.

Reduce Costs – Administrative costs are cut because no manual data entry is necessary by either a technician or a back-office staff member. There's no reason to print out, route or store completed paper forms. Operational inefficiencies are eliminated. 

Critical data is shared in real time, cutting out information silos and empowering quick, decisive action to remediate problems rather than waiting for traditional routing chains to pass information slowly from decision-maker to decision-maker for approval before anything can be done. Finally, maintenance costs are lowered because there are fewer equipment breakdowns and failures. 

Improve Compliance – Digital Operator Rounds enable more thorough and accurate risk assessment and modeling, with accurate real-time data to boost forecasting, planning and scheduling. Mitigation efforts become more effective as more complete information is collected about safety hazards and conditions throughout the plant. Swifter action on hazards and risks results in fewer safety incidents, cutting missed work time, fines and penalties.

Ready to Learn More?

Innovapptive is a pioneer in the development of Connected Worker solutions that empower plant front-line workers to get their jobs done faster, better, cheaper and safer. Our Digital Operator Rounds delivers a streamlined data collection process, gives technicians and decision-makers greater agility and flexibility to share information and collaborate in real time, reduces downtime and mitigates safety risks. Click here to schedule a free demo, or call us at 844-464-6668.

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