Designing complete maintenance management solutions with the ArcGIS Apps

July 17, 2020 Chaim Schwartz

Digitally transforming a paper-based maintenance management workflow requires much more than switching to a tablet to perform field work. Field work first needs to be planned, and upon completion reviewed and reported on, to support the full life cycle of the work activity. These are office-based activities that need to be seamlessly integrated with the field work to support a complete digital transformation. This article focuses on the ArcGIS apps that support these office-based aspects, and more specifically, how these can be integrated into one single end-user experience. 

The Esri Canada Public Works team has been helping organizations implement maintenance management solutions using the ArcGIS suite of apps through our Workforce Starter Solution service offering. Whether building inspections, road patrols or reactive water service repairs, mobile Esri apps are always a core component of these solutions. However, the office-based components of these workflows, prior to and following the field work, are essential in supporting the full lifecycle of these workflows.

Digitally transforming a paper-based workflow

If we look at a traditional paper-based inspection workflow, it might look similar to the diagram below:

 

Plan & Dispatch: In the office, field work is planned, prioritized and eventually scheduled and dispatched. This might be done using a mix of hard copy forms, spreadsheets, emails and phone calls.

Inspect: On-site, field workers inspect the asset and perform required maintenance activities or repairs, recording their observations and activities on hard copy forms.

Review: Back in the office, these forms are passed to the relevant supervisor for the review, follow up and approval phase.

File & Report: Lastly, the hardcopy sheets, being the authoritative record, are filed and optionally scanned to be stored on a local drive or in a document management system. These records will support required reporting to show adherence with legal requirements and standards.  

This complete process can be digitally transformed with the ArcGIS apps that you already have. As mentioned, ArcGIS mobile apps such as ArcGIS Collector and ArcGIS Survey123 are a big part of this solution, supporting the field work. However, for this article, let us focus on the available apps to support the office-based phases of the workflow, and then see how it can all be brought together.

ArcGIS Workforce is definitely the best candidate for prioritizing, scheduling and dispatching work, allowing the dispatcher/planner to view field staff locations and assignment statuses in near real time. For the Review phase, my favorite two solutions are the Crowdsource Manager template, and ArcGIS Dashboard.  Each of these two has its strengths: Crowdsource Manager allows users to review incoming inspections in a user-friendly format that also allows updating of multiple inspections at a time; ArcGIS Dashboard allows reviewing those incoming inspections using flexible and interactive lists, charts and maps, and optionally updating those inspections embedded right within the dashboard. For filing and reporting, ArcGIS dashboard is once again the best fit for the job. Extremely popular with our users, ArcGIS Dashboards fulfill two functions: (1) Allowing access to historic records by interactively searching and filtering maps, lists and charts; and (2) Providing situational awareness by displaying important metrics, KPIs and asset information. This brings reporting to a whole new level. Records are no longer buried in binders or obscure spreadsheets, rather, they are transparent and easily shared across the organization, and can be interactively queried and analyzed.  

But how do we bring it all together? We wouldn’t want our end-users to access a separate app for each of these phases. Given that an organization is likely to have several workflows across multiple groups and teams, this would quickly result in a large number of isolated apps.

Bringing it all together

This is where ArcGIS Hub and ArcGIS Experience Builder come into the picture. With ArcGIS Hub (or “Sites” in ArcGIS Enterprise) we can organize content under one central website, acting as a single point of access for different groups and users. Each group (Roads, Water, Parks, etc) can have their own dedicated section, or page, within that Hub, as shown in the diagram below, where they would be able to access their workflows, each one contained within a single Experience Builder “experience”.

By using ArcGIS Hub, you are providing all users one central point of access, and you can choose to share only relevant content with certain groups. For example, in the above diagram, a member of the utilities team might only see the content of Group 1 (which might contain the manhole inspection and sewer flushing programs), while a member of the facilities team might only see the content of Group 2 (which would contain workflows such as building and HVAC air handling unit inspections). An additional “main” tab could be added with information that is shared with all users – such as a central asset viewer or capital projects dashboard.

Within the Hub, each maintenance management workflow is contained within a single Experience Builder “experience”. This experience will include the different office-based phases of that workflow such as dispatching an inspection, reviewing the inspection and monitoring it through an interactive dashboard, walking the end user through the different phases of the workflow.

In the video below, a hydrant inspection workflow is presented, demonstrating the role of ArcGIS Hub and ArcGIS Experience Builder in enabling complete end-to-end maintenance management solutions as discussed in this article.     


Contact us or your Esri Canada account manager to set up a demonstration and a discussion on how we can automate your maintenance management programs.

This post was translated to French and can be viewed here.

About the Author

Chaim Schwartz

Chaim Schwartz is a Technical Solutions Specialist (TSS) with the public works team at Esri Canada. Chaim’s efforts are focused on helping customers leverage the ArcGIS and Cityworks platforms for infrastructure management, specifically asset inventory management, work management, field mobility and asset life cycle analysis. In his role as a TSS, Chaim works on introducing new technologies and workflows for improved asset management. Passionate about everything GIS and driven by his experience with municipal infrastructure management, Chaim is motivated by customers being able to derive value from geospatial technology.

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