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How Barcodes and RFID Improve Productivity in the Maintenance Industry

From maintenance mobilization to repair completion, inventory control and safety, there are many reasons to embrace both technologies in your operations.
By Bryan Christiansen
Oct 16, 2019

As digital technology expands throughout manufacturing, there are many new tools available. Barcodes and RFID are some of these tools, and they can be integrated into many portions of your workflow. With the use of barcodes and RFID, an operation can improve many aspects of its maintenance program. Documents can be moved to a digital platform, and the whole workflow of a maintenance issue can be made more efficient. Issues can be reported more easily, breakdowns and replacement parts can be found much faster, and safety can be improved. These enhancements will help your maintenance staff work smarter and faster.

Digital Documentation and Recordkeeping
One benefit of barcodes is less manual documentation. With barcode technology deployed on equipment assets, a technician can utilize digital tools to help make his or her job easier.

Imagine this scenario: a maintenance technician receives a call about a breakdown. He goes out to the shop floor with a scanner and tablet. The equipment barcode is scanned, and the technician has all the information about the asset at his fingertips. He can look through the last failures, the equipment manual, the work instructions and so on. No more digging is required through file cabinets or stacks of paper.

When the technician has finished his job, he can make notes right away—not at the end of his shift. The time tracking can be automated and give a true sense of the actual time he spent on the job. Improvements in data quality help the business make intelligent decisions about its assets.

Of course, this benefit requires the use of an effective computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), which would need to be integrated into the equipment and work practices. For example, a utility service company called Hofor started using RFID technology to track water line maintenance. The technicians went from maintaining a binder to scanning valve caps and accessing history through software. By using this software, they could find the history of the valve and ensure they were performing the proper maintenance on the correct valve. Hofor estimates a 40 percent time reduction for data collection during water line maintenance.

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