Speeding Up Elevator Inspections and Reporting
Introducing a timesaving mobile app years in the making
Improving operations is an evergreen topic. Several years ago, UpVate.com proposed a common electronic-data management platform (ELEVATOR WORLD, September 2012). The idea was to modernize operations, while ensuring code compliance. Since the industry still struggles with slow inspections and late reports, UpVate Anywhere, a web-based mobile app, has been developed by a company of the same name. Per our testing in a 44-elevator tower, it has led to 33% less time spent in a building and 50% less time writing up the report.
Target the Delays
The app has two purposes. The first is to reduce the amount of time spent onsite (taking photos, making notes, etc.). The second is to reduce the amount of time spent generating a report that is correct and makes good sense.
Today, digital cameras, laptops and tablets have begun to displace printed forms and written notes. New technologies often remain separate from each other and the reporting process. That lack of continuity builds delays into what already is a limited timeframe. Those delays accumulate onsite, as the clock begins ticking upon arrival. They also impact the write-up phase.
Reports are often already backlogged. What inspectors need is a way to collect data that makes it easier for them or their teammates to write up later. The following is a hypothetical walkthrough of an inspection with a mobile app that streamlines the process.
How It Works
Before the day starts, you will have first created a list of inspection sites. This list includes the names of buildings, property managers, number of stories, etc. Upon arriving at the first site, click on the appropriate inspection. Once inside, you can add an elevator bank, car number, government identification (if available) and device type. You can also add a service company and other notes. Next, a checklist is selected for the specific inspection you are about to perform. This is done via a dropdown of pre-established custom checklists. Clicking on “Start” takes you to “Bank 1” and allows you to select your location. This could be the machine room, hoistway, lobby, pit or car.
In a designated location, you can add data, record audio or take a picture. You might photograph worn ropes or missing guards, or make a voice note associated with the images. You can view the image, edit tags, take another photo, delete the photo and delete audio. As you move through your inspection, take more pictures and add voice notes. When done, you can view inspections or add a new one. The “View” page gives you the option to continue or delete an inspection. Only after the app has synchronized data with the online site can you delete it from your phone.
New technologies often remain separate from each other and the reporting process. That lack of continuity builds delays into what already is a limited timeframe.
Compiling the Report
On the website, you will see a list of all buildings with synchronized data. By clicking on “View,” you can see each location that contains an image and associated voice note. A voice-transcription feature can turn that recording into a written note, or you may do so manually. You can crop, rotate and annotate the images, as well.
From the web app, you can export the file into Microsoft® PowerPoint®, then manipulate the downloaded file. You can also copy and paste into a Microsoft Word® document or whatever format you use for reporting. Everything you need to write the report is in one place.
Sharing the report is the next step. We are enhancing the web app to allow the user to invite clients to view the inspection results. Adding custom checklists, which can be based upon each local authority’s requirements, makes the app even more complete.
Saving Time, Today
The only things required are a smartphone and downloaded app, paired with another app in the cloud. The wide variety of formats makes it impractical to automate the entire production cycle. But, even without custom report creation, this kind of tool can deliver impressive results. An end-to-end system that integrates with many stakeholders remains an attractive vision. Applying Internet of Things (IoT) technologies could lead to more efficiencies (EW, September 2014). However, sometimes the perfect is the enemy of the good. Saving time both onsite and in reporting is possible today with a single mobile app.