Posted 16th September 2012

Field Service Mobilisation ... Windows Mobile, iOS (iPad, iPhone) or Android smartphones and tablets?

Providing instant access to business critical information on the move is just one of the many benefits of migrating internal engineers or field service specialists across to mobile Computer-Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) solutions. Mobile CAFM software offers two-way data transfer to streamline communication between field service engineers and back office systems. Information can be reviewed and acknowledged instantly via mobile devices (Rugged, Smartphones or Tablets), delivering real-time live updates back into the core system, complete with photo, signature and data capture.

Aside from the instant communication and information benefits mobile CAFM software can offer an organisation and its field service engineers, there are many other key benefits worth acknowledging, including:

Historically, mobile CAFM Systems where developed for Windows Mobile operating systems or Psion devices. This approach was taken by many CAFM software developers, mainly due to the hardware limitations and requirements of the Facilities/Service Management industry. The Facilities Managers and Service Providers looked towards rugged devices as mobile solutions capable of scanning barcode labels and built to withstand the forces and pressures placed upon them in a tough environment.

For many years Windows Mobile was arguably the key operating system for mobile CAFM software development. Recently there has been a huge shift in choice of hardware used by the Facilities Management industry, partly forced by the lack of continued support of older Windows Mobile OS (up to 6.5) and lack of development flexibility for newer versions of Windows Mobile (Windows Mobile 7). The shift has seen greater demand for Android based rugged solutions, thus phasing out the Windows Mobile predecessor.

Furthermore, consumer grade Android and iOS smartphone and tablet devices are beginning to replace rugged devices for Facilities Management and Service Providers, for several reasons:

These key factors have encouraged Facilities Managers to explore and deploy consumer grade Smartphones and Tablets to field service engineers. To help withstand use within the environment, rugged cases are often purchased to help protect devices from the elements.

CAFM software can be delivered to mobile devices as a web-based service using the mobiles internet browser. The difficulty with this approach is that grey coverage areas and data black spots can prevent field service engineers from completing tasks. For example, basement areas are a known problem for data connectivity. mobile CAFM systems that rely on live data connectivity through web services are rendered useless in such environments. Instead, the preferred approach by both CAFM developers and end-users is to provide mobile CAFM apps for Apple iOS (iPhone/iPad, iTouch), Windows Mobile and Android Smartphones and Tablets that work in an offline mode. This enables data to be stored locally and transferred back to the core database when in a connected environment.

Tabs Systems have taken the connectivity issue one step further by introducing both online and offline modes for Apple iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android Smartphones and Tablets, thus preventing disruptions to the working day.

Another benefit of developing CAFM software for Apple iOS and Android Smartphones and tablets, is that field engineers only need one device for all their day-to-day activities (telecommunication, email, internet browsing, GPS navigation, CAFM data, document management, barcode scanning), making Android and Apple iOS logical and economical choices for future mobile CAFM service delivery.

Tabs Mobile CAFM Systems now supported iOS, Android and Windows Mobile 6.5


... more than just software