Effective inspection management ensures asset reliability and regulatory compliance. Unfortunately, when you rely on paper inspection checklists, you leave your organizations vulnerable to oversights and errors.

According to a 2018 predictive maintenance study by Plant Engineering, a large majority of organizations still use manual visual inspections to gather data for condition monitoring.

Here’s a closer look at both the downsides of this approach and a better, modern alternative.

Challenges with paper inspection checklists

One major flaw of paper inspection checklists is the tendency to simply check boxes without performing the required checks. Maintenance pros call this “pencil whipping,” and it’s all too common on factory floors, construction sites, and fleet operations.

It also makes data management difficult. When you need to know which parts your team replaced on a particular piece of equipment, you have to sort through file folders or stacks of paper.

Even if someone manually enters the data from paper inspection logs into a software system at the end of each day, this essentially doubles the time it takes to complete each inspection.

Additionally, if an equipment operator notices an issue at the beginning of their shift, the maintenance team might not know about until the following day. By then, it could already had a negative impact on production.

Benefits of digital inspection checklists

Digital inspection checklists bridge the gaps where paper inspections fall short. When you do inspections with a mobile app that integrates with enterprise asset management (EAM) software , you streamline the process by bringing all the data into one place.

Improved effectiveness and efficiency

Digital equipment inspections require operators and technicians to complete one section before moving on to the next, so they’re less likely to breeze through them by simply checking boxes. Although this forces them to pay closer attention, it doesn’t necessarily add extra time. In some cases, operators need to enter specific data points, such as temperature or pressure. For other fields, they can select from a dropdown menu — such as a list of failure codes. And because the data is stored on a cloud-based software system, they won’t have to re-enter the data later, boosting efficiency.

Improved communication

Strong communication between the maintenance and operations teams is essential for effective asset management. Digital inspection checklists make it easy for both teams to see what equipment needs repairs or replacement. Unlike paper checklists, anyone can easily read notes related to each inspection. And maintenance professionals can prioritize their workload with codes that classify necessary repairs. They can review inspections from critical assets first and address other items later.

Maintaining digital inspection records

One of the key objectives of inspections is to comply with industry regulations and avoid fines. The maximum penalty for non-compliance with OSHA regulations can be as high as $12,471 per violation and $124,709 for repeat violations. Similarly, fleet operators need to complete Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports or face fines.

When compliance officers visit your site, you need to hand over comprehensive documentation of equipment inspections and past audits. Digital inspection management with EAM software makes it much easier to provide these records.

Automatic management of pass and fail protocols

EAM software takes the guesswork out of determining the next steps following an inspection. You can set up workflows to automate tasks if an item fails inspection, including safely taking it offline, notifying the right maintenance professional, or ordering parts. You can even access digital work order templates and fill them in with all the essential details. While paper checklists allow employees to skip steps or submit incomplete work orders, digital inspection checklists ensure they follow all the proper procedures.

If they don’t complete one step, they can’t move onto the next.

Integrated workflows for different users

A typical lifecycle of inspection checklists involves multiple stakeholders, including asset managers, operators, and maintenance technicians. Each has a distinct role to play to keep the inspection process running smoothly. With manual inspections, it’s difficult to track this workflow.

With EAM software, you can manage access so each user sees the functionality and details most relevant to them. Once they complete their part, they can notify the next person in the workflow.

For example, an operator conducts inspections, records data, and then submits work orders. These work orders can be automatically assigned to available the technicians with the right expertise.

Improved asset performance

Although the primary objective of inspections is compliance and safety, asset performance is also critical. Senior leaders and asset managers can use asset data to revise their preventive maintenance strategy. For instance, they might decide to increase or decrease preventive maintenance frequency or better prioritize tasks based on which assets have higher failure rates based on inspection data.

Asset management systems offer a digital map of the entire asset lifecycle. You can see an asset’s age, repair history, and calculate the total cost of ownership.

A simple way to streamline inspections

Managing inspections is an important part of protecting your workforce and your assets. Even if you already use software for asset tracking and preventive maintenance, you’re missing a crucial element if you don’t have digital, mobile inspections. The ManagerPlus Inspection Module streamlines inspections and improves accountability across your organization.

With digital inspection checklists, simple pass/fail buttons, and corrective actions, you can close the loop and bring your assets back online sooner. It also helps you ensure compliance with safety guidelines and warranty specifications.

Anyone in your organization can easily access equipment inspection details, whether they are an asset manager at their desk, an operator on the road, or a maintenance technician.

Ready to improve asset performance with better inspections?

Schedule a demo today.

About the author


ManagerPlus is the preferred solution across the most asset-intensive industries, including Fortune 500 companies, to improve reliability and minimize downtime.
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