Asset management can be a headache, especially when it comes to inspections. But what if we told you that you could save time and money with just a few changes?
Let's learn how to use digital inspection tools to evolve from outdated paper and spreadsheet based inspections.
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What Asset Inspection Solutions are Best for Your Business?
Regular asset inspections are essential to prevent unexpected equipment failure and reduce risk of workplace injury and compliance fines.
But businesses and assets vary significantly in the amount and type of inspections needed, as well as the severity of the consequences of neglecting this responsibility.
To make things more complicated, inspections aren’t as easy as buying the right technology, they are conducted by people. Mismatching your solution and your staff, or not providing ample training will lead to missing and improperly recorded data.
To help make things easy for you, we have broken down three different asset inspection solutions at various skill levels and price points. We even provide tools and step by step instructions on how to get started implementing each solution.
What Do We Mean by Asset Inspection Solutions?
Asset inspections are regular assessments to make sure that your facility is working properly and in good condition including machinery and equipment, buildings, vehicles, or even land.
These inspections are crucial for identifying and correcting wear and tear that could cause injury or unexpected breakdown. They also provide a detailed record of the asset lifecycle that can be used for budgeting and forecasting as well as proof of compliance with government regulations.
It's important to remember that not all assets are created equal—some are more valuable or potentially dangerous than others, so it's important to decide which ones should be inspected more often than others. In the end, these decisions are in the hands of the manager, but inspection prioritization should stem from the following factors:
- How essential is the asset to continuing ongoing operations?
- How much does the asset cost?
- How difficult is it to schedule and execute emergency repairs?
- How much danger does asset malfunction pose to employees and customers?
- How well can an inspection result in thwarting an unexpected breakdown?
Asset inspections are a critical part of managing your business. Without them, you risk costly and unexpected challenges in the future. Let’s learn some different asset inspection solutions you can use to ensure your business remains safe and operational.
The “Classic” Pen and Paper Asset Inspection
The first asset inspection solution we will cover is the classic pen and paper method. For old school maintenance teams, this may be a familiar system. Pen and paper is sufficient to keep records on your assets, but present risks and limitations that could jeopardize operations. Still, thousands of managers and business owners rely on pen and paper each day.
For these teams, Xenia provides a free PDF download checklist library with processes and instructions to handle any asset inspection from HVAC and Boilers, to cranes and scaffolding. These checklists can be printed, completed by your staff and saved in a safe place for reference. Search the library for the resources you are looking for, and follow the instructions to get started.
How to Manage Asset Inspections on Pen and Paper
- Create a list of assets in the business that need to be inspected.
- Create checklist procedures for each inspection.
- Print or write multiple copies and place them in a binder.
- Create an inspection calendar and post where it can be seen.
- Have technician record information on appropriate checklist
- When complete, ensure it is placed back in the appropriate binder or folder.
Pros and Cons of Using Pen and Paper for Asset Inspections
Pen and paper can provide straightforward reporting of basic asset health as it requires no technical knowledge or electricity to use. However, there are serious limitations and risks to relying on this type of system.
- Easy for old school staff to understand
- Does not require tech or electronics
- Very time inefficient way to collect data
- Uses large amounts of paper
- Limited ability to analyze results
- High risk of getting lost or damaged
- Limited accessibility and accountability
- Handwriting interpretation can cause confusion
- Does not prepare for the future
If you want to take the pen and paper route, we highly recommend checking out our template library to equip your team with the proper documentation to do the job. However, we recommend you read on before kicking off this process as there are different systems that will save you time and money.
Microsoft Excel / Google Sheets for Asset Inspections
Spreadsheets can be intimidating, but offer a wide array of tools to handling asset inspections. The trick is being able to set up the spreadsheet so that the data can be both collected and stored for future reference. We have built a system that enables you to complete work orders and schedule inspections.
The sheet has two main parts: the maintenance work order log as well as the asset inventory list. Pull up them both in a separate window and read on to learn how to use them (Or read ahead and see why a software solution may be better for you)
How to Use Xenia’s Free Work Order Log & Inventory List
- Download Copy to be able to edit: File→ Make a Copy
- Copy Document must have Apps Script File “Log Work Order” attached
- The first time “Submit to Log” button is clicked, you will need to provide Authorization for it to work.
- Authorization Required → Continue → Sign In
- “Google hasn’t verified this app” → Advanced → Go to Log Work Order (unsafe) → Allow
Step 1: In Settings input your Asset Locations, Team Members and PM Procedures.
Step 2: In Inventory List add each asset in your property along with relevant information such as ID #, cost, location, as well as a list of parts that need preventive maintenance attention.
Step 3: In Work Order Entry tab
- Input date of Work Order
- Select the Asset, Location and Team Member from drop down
- Input Asset ID
- Note: Parts Column will auto-populate from Inventory List. Do not manually add parts to the Work Order Entry.
- Select Procedure for each Part from drop down
- If applicable, input Cost, Invoice Number and Comments
- Once complete, press “Submit to Log” Button
- This will send all Work Order Entry data to Work Order Log for safe storage
- Work Order Entry can now be reused for another work order
How to Use Xenia’s Preventive Maintenance Calendar Tool
- Save a Copy by navigating to File Munu → Make a Copy
- In Settings: Add your Status Options, Work Orders and Staff Members
- In PM Planner: Schedule work orders with drop down menus
- In Calendar: View all planned PM Activity
Pros and Cons of Using Excel or Google Sheets for PMs
- Free Forever
- Fast to get started
- Digitizes inspection record
- Allows scheduling inspections
- Sharable and printable
- Requires excel knowledge
- Cannot assign work to team
- Cannot set recurring tasks
- Difficult to use on mobile
- It is possible to accidentally break built in functionality
- Data is not stored in one place
- Limited data collection granularity
Asset Inspection Management Software
Asset inspection management software can fall in two categories of software. These options are inspections and audit software and Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS). These solutions are different but can both help to digitize and streamline asset inspections. Lets look at the key differences between these two solutions:
Comparing Inspection Software and CMMS for Asset Inspections
When looking at the technology landscape, you will run into two different types of software for asset inspections. The main difference between Inspection software and a full CMMS is that the former is less expensive but more limited in what it can do.
Inspection and Audit Software Overview
Inspection software helps businesses to create inspection checklists, forms and logs to be used in app for execution and storage. Typically companies that fall into this category offer a library of inspection templates to help managers to quickly organize and plan their maintenance. The main benefits are:
- Teams get standardized checklists to guide inspections
- Inspection forms can record text, numbers, or pass / fail inputs
- Images can be attached to checklist steps for clarity of communication
- Data is securely stored for future reference
- Analytics are provided to help identify problems early
Typically these tools are typically priced per user per month and can accommodate any sized team or operation. Pricing for these tools (and software subscriptions in general) differ depending on the length of the contract with the annual payment plans being 20% to 50% cheaper than a month to month plan. Below are some tools to evaluate, along with their annual pricing for unlimited access to checklists and inspections:
- Xenia - $10 per user per month
- SafetyCulture - $19 per user per month
- GoAudits - $30 per user per month ($10 plan only allows 10 checklists per month)
- Lumiform - $16 per user per month
CMMS Software Overview
A Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) is designed to handle all major tasks that a maintenance team may face in their day to day work including work orders, preventive maintenance, inspections, audits and more. They are more complex and flexible than asset inspection software and can help to drive more efficiencies across the organization. With a CMMS, the main benefits are:
- Work order management
- Preventive maintenance calendars
- Checklist procedure builders
- Asset inspection solution
- Asset and Parts inventory
- Maintenance Data analytics
There are many CMMS solutions on the market, and the key to success is to find the right fit for your business. For example, the needs of an oil refinery or an industrial manufacturing facility will differ greatly from the hospitality sector or a school. Both have assets that need to be inspected and maintained, but have very different individuals conducting the work and needs when it comes to data granularity.
The more complex the maintenance to be conducted, the more powerful the software solution will need to be, and likely the price and user difficulty will rise accordingly. Here are a few CMMS solutions that are perfect for asset management: