B2W Software has introduced a new API within its One Platform that streamlines equipment inspection and repairs and ties together inspection and maintenance software with its other applications.
An API (Application Programming Interface) is a software program that allows two other separate software applications to talk to one another in a common language. With it, information in one application can automatically populate fields in another application.
The B2W Maintain equipment maintenance application within the One Platform can now generate repair requests automatically based on data from electronic forms used for completing equipment inspections. The process relays detailed information from equipment inspections to the maintenance team immediately. By eliminating lag time and manual steps for transferring this data, contractors can identify and complete equipment repair work more efficiently and break down information silos in their company.
“Along with the equipment maintenance module and the B2W Inform module for e-forms and reporting, the B2W platform includes applications for estimating, field tracking and resource scheduling,” says Greg Norris, marketing communications director. “When all of these are managed cohesively, there’s a tremendous opportunity for more efficiency.”
In addition to enabling the different applications to talk to one another, B2W says its portfolio of products enable construction companies to run their business without generating mountains of paperwork. Paper forms slow down the flow of information, and it’s a difficult manual process to build reports, identify trends and track KPIs, says John Kane, product manager. “Electronic forms make it faster and easier to capture better data and to make that data actionable.”
In a paper-based equipment inspection process, a form identifying repair needs might go from an operator to a foreman or supervisor, says Norris. The form could sit in the truck until the supervisor gets back to the office and then go in a stack that the shop may not get to for another week or two.
With a paperless system, as soon as you hit the send button, the maintenance shop knows instantly and can make decisions that day on what priority to give this repair.
The B2W Inform e-forms application is customizable, says Kane. “You can even recreate your old paper forms in a digital format and pick up where you left off to use the product right away. A shop manager might create the equipment forms. Other managers or administrators might create various forms for safety, HR and other requirements.”
One of the advantages with the electronic equipment inspection forms is they can be specific to each piece of equipment, says Norris. “With paper, because it was so hard to manage, you might use a general equipment inspection form. But each piece of equipment has its own unique things that you may want to inspect. With the electronic forms, you can create a form for every category of equipment versus using a generic form across all equipment. And this has clear advantages in terms of the quality of data you collect.”
Setting up a construction company with B2W Maintain, including the paperless inspection process takes some time and effort, but says Kane, it’s not rocket science.
“If you have B2W for estimating and field tracking and you add B2W for equipment maintenance, you have the operational database mostly in place,” he says. “There's a continuity there as opposed to choosing an equipment program from a third party. You're part of the way there already.”
The implementation of the maintenance software at that point is much less cumbersome simply because your equipment, your users and resources are in the system, says Kane. “It's basically adding more detail about the equipment and adjusting your maintenance processes to optimize the software.”
“Some contractors buy the whole B2W platform at once, and some people buy a module at a time,” says Norris. “With the B2W Inform application, we have a library of basic forms you can use as a starting point. It’s a drag and drop process. It’s not something you need an IT department to do. Almost anybody can create forms and build reports.”
B2W training and implementation teams work with contractors to get them up and running, says Kane. The training and implementation timeframe will depend on the type and number of B2W applications, as well as the complexity of the data you want to manage.
“From customer to customer, every data set can be completely different,” says Kane. "So we implement the product based on their business needs and how they want to do business and train toward that. We do a lot of analysis upfront. This gives them a product at the end that is very specific, familiar and allows them to hit the ground running.”