Managing the Mobile Maintenance Workforce

The NYC Department of Environmental Protection started its digital transformation with a mobile maintenance app that has exchanged paper processes for electronic instructions and reports.

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Four years ago, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) began a digital transformation aimed at improving productivity and reducing waste. The goal was to move away from paper and to automate work processes.

Today, within the DEP’s Bureau of Water Supply, there are over 200 desktops and tablets running Schneider Electric software applications to manage work orders and maintenance. Now, the tasks that used to be managed via paper processes—such as managing operator rounds, inspecting equipment and chemical delivery — are served up on digital devices.

With Schneider Electric’s application running on a Samsung Galaxy tablet, users can view and complete assigned work tasks. DEP created specific work management processes like Auto-Trigger, to create preventive maintenance (PM) work tasks, and Auto-Scheduler, to easily add someone to the schedule. Both processes have now been streamlined.

“This has become so efficient for us that we don’t need human intervention to get the work order to someone,” said Reginal Joseph, Asset Information Coordinator, Croton Operations at NYC DEP’s Bureau of Water Supply, who was presenting at the Schneider Electric Software Innovation Summit.

DEP started the digital transformation with chemical delivery reports, Joseph said, looking at all activities and statistics to capture. But there is still paperwork to complete due to some special state and agency report formats. To solve that, the asset management team duplicated the chemical delivery report format in Crystal Reports, which could generate a printed version of the same document. “We are using the same values they need while eliminating a step. Just go to view, select the right report, hit print and they have the form in their hands,” he said.

Automated report generation has been a valuable feature of the system. Supervisor Management Reports provide a status of preventive and corrective work orders by month and crew. An “aging report” flags overdue work orders by crew. And Auto-Close can close a PM work order based on built-in logic, while providing supervisors with an overview of work completed so they can still keep their eyes on the operation.

As part of the process, the DEP team also created e-mail notification on a corrective action to alert supervisors of status right away. “As soon as a work order hits the queue it sends them an email [that includes] the work that needs to be done. They love it,” Joseph said.

Another thing the team loves is the intuitive user interface, which makes it easy to get operators up to speed. Still, continuous training is an important part of keeping the process working seamlessly. So, they have monthly refresher classes on tablet training and quarterly supervisor meetings for work management feedback.

Management involvement is important to the ongoing digital transformation, Joseph said. “Every time we have meetings about how our solution is going, some groups are using it, other groups push back, and there are still some stragglers along the way. But to get them to use the system consistently, we needed a force behind us. That force is management.”

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