By Kyle Strang

While the ubiquity of smart mobile devices (phones & tablets) is still relatively new, the feature set of an average device is quite well rounded and continues to grow.  In the past, we’ve written on how your operation can leverage mobility to streamline processes and get more work done in less time. Today, we’re going to dig into some of the inherent functionality of smart mobile devices and how it can be used in the field and the back office.

Tablet

Location awareness

While some may cringe at the thought of their mobile device transmitting where they are or where they have been, this information can be useful in a variety of situations. Consider an emergency service call or work reassignment. A dispatcher can use the location data to identify where the technicians are in the field, and assign work to the tech or crew closest to the issue.

Camera

“A picture can say a thousand words” – and that’s a good thing since few people would care to type 1,000 words on a tablet. A picture of a faulty meter or a busted pipe can provide strong visual evidence of the type of situation you’re dealing with and help diagnose how to remedy the situation. A picture can also be used to document your work and work area. This may come in handy the next time a customer suggests you were the one to trample their rose bush while trying to replace the electric meter.

A less used, but potentially effective use of the camera in the field is to take video. In addition to inspection and documentation functions, video could also be used to troubleshoot equipment problems in the field. Here, the tech on site could be taking video of the equipment in question and streaming it with senior technicians who may be at another job site or back at the office. Video has the opportunity to save rolling another truck and fix an issue while on site the first time.

Bluetooth

The vast majority of today’s mobile devices support Bluetooth connectivity. Bluetooth allows you to extend the functionality of your mobile device to other purpose-built devices wirelessly. While we often recommend the elimination of paper in the field, there are times when that simply isn’t feasible. In cases such as these, perhaps a thermal printer connected to your mobile device via Bluetooth will meet your requirements to print off receipts, forms or other required documents. As an added bonus, Bluetooth connectivity between devices means no more cords to trip over or get caught up in your equipment.

Collaboration is Key

Location awareness, camera, Bluetooth connectivity and the examples provided are just the beginning of how you can look at transforming field operations. These tools are readily available on virtually any mobile device, require minimal training and can quickly be used to enhance the collaboration between your techs and supervisors – wherever they may be located.

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