Why Tablets Are a Must-Have for Factory Maintenance
Of the many innovations in mobile tech and cloud computing, few are as versatile and applicable as tablets. There’s a case to be made for every factory in using tablets as a core part of the maintenance approach. In the age of cloud enterprise asset management (EAM) systems, digital twins, and powerful analytics, a tablet puts the power of Industry 4.0 into the hands of maintenance techs, so they can do their jobs better.
Tablets are a simple yet powerful solution
Tablets are an indoctrinated part of our digital lives. We use tablets at retail kiosks and fast food establishments. Our kids watch videos and play games on them. When handed a tablet, it’s expected that most people will know how to use it or be able to in a matter of minutes.
This simplicity is why tablets belong on the factory floor. The engrained knowledge we already have about them paves the way for an inherent understanding of how to use them effectively — whether looking at historical data from the cloud or interacting with an augmented reality program.
The benefits of tablets are well-established
Tablets are by no means a new innovation in factories; in fact, their benefits are well-established. Studies measuring the effectiveness of mobile tech (smartphones, laptops, pagers, and tablets) on the factory floor have defined them as assets in many ways:
- Real-time visibility and communication with the cloud
- Decreased response times for maintenance and repair
- Reduced paperwork and better consolidation of files
- More efficient execution of work order fulfillment
- Reduced errors and easier correction of information
- Better flexibility for floor operations and tasks
The abundant benefits are the product of tablet design — tablets combine the functionality of a laptop, the mobility of a smartphone, access to the cloud, and integration into a factory’s digital ecosystem.
Total tablet functionality
The true versatility of a tablet comes from everything it’s capable of. Virtually all maintenance and floor operations benefit from having a tablet handy. The hardware and software available at the touch of a screen more than justify the tablet’s place among essential maintenance and repair tools:
- A high-definition camera is essential for taking pictures and video documentation of a problem. That same camera can also power augmented reality applications to improve worker capabilities and insights.
- Various sensors — including infrared (IR), motion capture, and gyroscopic sensors — check vital measurables for machinery undergoing repair or maintenance. Best of all, detected data is automatically logged by the tablet.
- Instead of stacks of manila folders and clipboards with work orders, tablets consolidate everything into a single manageable file viewer. Swipe back and forth between files for better organization and reference.
- Cloud computing ties everything from digital twins to archived data into the tablet, making it available on-demand, at the touch of the screen. Techs save time not rummaging through old files to reference critical data.
- Audio input and output capabilities make recording and communication simple. Record audio notes or machine sounds for cataloging, or video chat with another tech to get insight into a unique problem.
Every application installed on a tablet increases its versatility and effectiveness as a maintenance tool. A well-configured tablet has the potential to become the most important asset of a maintenance tech, outside of their own education.
Mobile is the way of the future
More than 80% of CEOs see mobile technologies as being strategically important for their enterprises.
An oft-repeated statistic, but one that continues to ring true, it’s clear that mobile tech is a pillar of Industry 4.0. While smartphones and laptops are essential tools, they pale in comparison to the effectiveness of tablets. For any factory building slowly to a digitally inclined ecosystem, tablets are a great anchor for other integrated tech, as well as an investment that will yield results from the moment it’s deployed.