Supporting Windows Mobile 6.5: Why it is still important.

Many folks are very excited about the growth of iPads, Android tablets and smart phones for their Maximo mobile strategy. Field users obviously love the large screen and great interfact. But, as noted in a previous post, there may be a few drawbacks, such as scanning capabilities. For serious enterprise asset management implementations, a mix is very important. Obviously, you would not use a hammer to turn a screw, so the right tool for the job is very important. And if one of those tools is missing, or may be removed from the tool crib, there is every reason to be concerned.

Microsoft has recently announced their latest mobile embedded framework. The latest operating system for handhelds, Windows Embedded 8, as it stands now, will provide a full featured operating system, with a new set of APIs, full device encryption and a “modern intuitive, multi-touch app experience”, which will make using tablets even easier to use.

Yes, once again, the Field worker may appear to be getting most of the love.
Here’s the big drawback.

No Physical Keyboard.

That’s right: No support of physical keyboards. Only on screen keyboard support, which hurts right in the old 10-key. I think several veteran inventory workers just visibly shuttered. Oh, and that user out there that takes meter readings all day just turned a little green, too.

Martin Cooper, Father of the mobile phone

Martin Cooper, Father of the mobile phone

Many of us have taken in stride the on screen keyboards that let you see what you are typing. The idea of “touch typing” is disappearing, especially if you cannot feel the keys as you type.  So, the result is stopping, looking at what you are typing, and resuming your work. These few seconds really can add up. If you haven’t been in the warehouse when a seasoned cycle count worker is kicking out their job, then think about the person at the bank, or accountant that is using 10-key. They fly through those digits without nary a glance. And they are all the speedier for it. Imagine if they stopped and looked at every key before entering it into the system, and you get an idea of how bad an idea of is is to eliminate support.

Now, there is no reason to gather the pitchforks quite yet. Microsoft has said they will support Mobile 6.5 until at least 2020. So all of those commercial handheld units with scanners, including you folks in the Oil and Gas industry that require I-Safe devices for your calibration equipment have about 6 years to make sure Microsoft understands how important physical keyboard support is to your bottom line.

Or, perhaps a new technology will come out in that time, so that this is just a “cry wolf” situation. Since the days of Martin Cooper’s first cell phone call, technology does march on (Or we’d still be using “Brick” phones). I just hope that technology conforms to improve the end user experience, and not the opposite.

Kat Pullen is a Convergence Specialist at DataSplice, LLC, a mobile computing company founded in 2001 to deliver handheld technology to Maximo users in the field. While DataSplice Mobile supports iPad, Android and Windows 8.1, the majority of clients are still very happy with Windows Mobile 6.5. DataSplice is committed to supporting a full range of devices, both mobile and desktop, because you shouldn’t have to compromise.

Where is Your True North?

This blog will address what I feel are the more practical aspects and user considerations of what it takes to implement and manage an Enterprise Asset Management System (EAMS) in facilities or processing plants.  There are many challenges to making an EAMS work but a key component in today’s world is how do you simplify the user experience.  Steve Job’s showed us how to take that concept to reality.  Expectations from users are high – There is an App for that.  Where are we providing a similar user experience in our Maximo world?

That being said lets back up a minute and talk about the real reason we use Maximo:  Achieving Plant and Facilities Excellence.

Implementing Maximo is a daunting task.  There are a broad scope of applications, functionality within those applications, configurability options, software/hardware requirements, system administration support skills, and reporting options.  Business process re-engineering is also required to match the business needs with the software design.  The standard challenges associated with implementing and upgrading Maximo include:

  • The drive to quickly demonstrate short-term gains
  • Lack of a consistent standard for obtaining KPI measures
  • Ineffective preventive maintenance management planning
  • Inconsistent management of plant outages
  • Lack of understanding the concepts of reliability-based maintenance
  • Configuration of the asset-based work management system
  • Restrictions imposed by corporate IT governance-related mandates
  • Training and resistance to the technology
  • Integration with other core applications

The point being that there are many ways to go off the trail and into the wilderness.  So do you have any idea where your true North is? Do you have a Compass?  Here is a compass to the three things you should focus on to ensure excellence in plant and facilities maintenance:

  1. Asset reliability
  2. Streamlined business processes
  3. Optimized information technology

Asset Reliability
If your equipment or facilities are not up and running you are not in business!  Doing the right things at the right time, with eyes on what matters most better be your primary objective.  Focus here should be on asset failures that could result in:

  • Loss of life or serious personal injury
  • Regulatory compliance violations
  • Adverse effect on the environment
  • Loss of revenue or productivity

Streamlining Business Processes
The credibility of your business depends on collecting accurate data and establishing crystal clear work directions.  Focus on collecting accurate data, no more, no less. Remove un-necessary steps in your business processes that impede productivity.  Constantly question why you do, what you do, how you do it, and who does it.  Peel the onion, get down to the essence of your business processes and close the gap between perception and reality.

Optimizing IT (Information Technology)
Making good decisions relies upon having accurate and timely information. Focus on optimizing the use of dashboards, start centers, smart phones, tablets, and handheld devices to push and pull data in ways that are intuitive to the way you work.  Everyone from the person turning wrenches to the executive in the corner office reaps the benefits of timely and accurate data that is relative to their jobs.  Improve the user experience by making it easy, making it work ‘like I do’, and Optimizing IT.

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About Randy McDaniel:
Randy has a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the California State University at Fullerton and has spent over 35 years in the field of maintenance engineering, maintenance planning, capital projects construction, and facilities maintenance. His industry experience includes oil refineries, petrochemical plants, universities, steel mills, assembly plants, lumber mills, and utility plants.

He has spent time as a Maximo senior consultant providing business process re-engineering assessments and managing Maximo implementations. A vocal advocate of Maximo, Randy has been the Chairman of the Southern California Maximo Users Group since 1998 where he often presents best practices, tips and other real life Maximo experiences.

Currently Randy is the Maximo System Administrator and Facilities Management Information Systems Integration Manager at the University of California Los Angeles. He manages the implementation of Maximo and provides IT integration direction and vision for the General Services business unit.

This post originally appeared on the Tivoli User Community boards on January 29, 2013, and is reprinted with permission of the author