How a Major Utility Automated Its IBM Maximo Asset Tracking
Utilities and energy sector companies have a vast number of components, parts, meters, cables and other assets that they need to manage as part of their operations. There are typically thousands of items to install, monitor, manage, inspect, maintain and repair, and it’s a massive undertaking to manage and keep track of it all.
This is why many utilities have been using IBM’s Maximo software to help them remotely monitor their equipment, schedule and perform predictive maintenance, manage visual inspections, and manage their asset inventory and lifecycles. But one of the biggest challenges with Maximo is that, to enable all of those capabilities, you need a way to accurately and reliably track all the assets you need to manage and get their data and information into IBM’s software.
However, Maximo doesn’t come with an automated data capture solution as part of its offering. Maximo users typically have to tackle that aspect of asset management on their own, and they need to find a separate solution.
That’s where one major utility made a smart move by teaming up with data capture technology experts to develop an asset tracking mobile app that works seamlessly with Maximo to automatically scan barcodes, read RFID tags, capture asset data and get the right information into its asset management system.
Developing a Mobile Solution for Maximo Data Capture and Transactions
It all began several years ago when the utility reached out to our team at AB&R, where we specialize in automated data capture, inventory and asset management solutions for a wide variety of industries.
The utility was using IBM Maximo but didn’t have a way to digitally capture information about each asset and match it up with corresponding data, information and analytics in Maximo’s software. This meant its frontline workers in the warehouse, transmission laydown yard, meter lab and the field didn’t have an efficient way to perform asset management transactions such as managing work orders, tracking assets, and receiving, moving, transferring and returning assets and inventory.
All of these steps were crucial to its MRO, inspection, monitoring and other processes, but without a mobile and automated way to identify and track each asset and send transactions and updates to Maximo, there was a huge disconnect between its workflows and its back-end system.
The company was relying on a lot of manual paperwork and data entry processes to manage its assets in Maximo, which was inefficient and created high risks of inaccuracies and human error. To solve this problem, our software developers worked with the utility to document its needs and requirements, and we developed a proposal and a plan to create a mobile and desktop software application that would automate its asset tracking and Maximo-related transactions.
Upon approval of the proposal, our engineers started developing the app, which became known as Accuviti. The Accuviti app is now available to all utilities using Maximo, and it’s a fully digital asset tracking and management system based on GS1 global standards for data capture. As we developed the app, we created a complete set of features and functions to help automate the process of printing GS1-compliant barcode labels and tags and to provide a simple, easy-to-use digital interface for performing and managing all the asset transactions the utility performs. In turn, once items are labeled, tagged and then scanned and tracked, transactions and asset data can be stored digitally and automatically transmitted to Maximo in real time or saved offline and uploaded in batch updates if workers were temporarily offline.
We optimized Accuviti to run on rugged Zebra Android mobile computers, which we recommend to our technology clients for their unmatched durability, specs, performance and reliability. The app runs on Zebra devices paired with Zebra mobile printers, which are compact, lightweight but rugged wearable devices that print GS1-complaitn barcode labels and RFID tags on the spot.
Accuviti’s Asset Tracking and Transaction Capabilities for Maximo
Using Accuviti’s printing capabilities, workers can print and apply labels or tags to items, bins, containers or virtually any other medium that’s used to receive, store and retrieve assets. Each label or tag is scanned or read with Zebra’s mobile computers to identify each corresponding asset and match it up with the correct transaction or Maximo data.
The app also provides all the transactional capabilities the utility needs, including an array of different options for different areas of its operations:
For example, in the warehouse, items can be received by selecting a PO or transfer and selecting a specific PO or transfer line. Then a worker can perform a receiving transaction for that line, validate the received quantity against the order quantity, print or scan a barcode label for identification and verification, and view scanned versus remaining material. It all happens easily and digitally by tapping on their mobile computer screen to access all functions and perform any necessary steps.
For inventory placements, it’s a similarly digital and seamless process, with the ability to assign materials to a bin or a pallet, assign pallets to bins, assign single or multiple items at the same time, and print and scan labels for identification and verification. Workers can also assign inventory to field service vehicles or technicians and assign inventory locations to work order or purchase order requisitions.
Material issues, movement, returns and other transactions all follow the same basic principles, with a user-friendly and digital process that saves time and effort while ensuring that all related line-item transactions and updates are performed accurately and get into Maximo automatically to help manage utility assets and processes.
As we developed Accuviti and all its capabilities, we reviewed screens, buttons, functionality and progress with the customer, providing opportunities for feedback, improvements and approval of the ongoing work. In the end, this focused and iterative process helped us arrive at an ideal solution that met and exceeded all of the utility’s requirements and successfully achieved the end goal of largely automating its Maximo asset tracking.
The rollout was smooth and quick with hands-on training of utility workers provided by our team at AB&R. Zebra’s Android mobile devices were instantly familiar to nearly every worker, providing a simple interface that allowed users to be productive and efficient with Accuviti on day one.
Now the utility’s workers are able to track assets digitally and accurately, and they’re able to get the right data into Maximo without the hassles of manual or paper-based tracking and manual entry of transactions and data. It all happens with far greater speed, efficiency and accuracy than was ever possible before, so it’s not just a matter of maximizing the value of Maximo, but it has also been a great boost to the company’s workforce productivity and its overall bottom line.
Moreover, in the years since the initial rollout, we’ve brought Accuviti to many other utilities and energy companies, and it’s available now as a solution we can help you deploy rapidly and effectively.
How to Learn More About Accuviti and Automating Maximo Asset Management
To learn more about automating Maximo data capture and asset management with Accuviti, connect with our team at AB&R. We’d be happy to provide more information, answer any of your questions, and schedule a demo at your convenience.
To get started, contact AB&R now at 800-281-3056 or send us a quick email.
Free Barcode and RFID Assessment
Contact AB&R today to receive a Barcoding and RFID Starter Guide or to schedule a free assessment that will identify the perfect solutions for your warehouse operations.