<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1824058264555430&amp;ev=PageView &amp;noscript=1">
Subscribe to Our Blog Stay up to date with the latest tips and news.
Filter By:
Sort By:

Field Inspection: Millicom’s TigoUne Sees Field of Opportunities with AppSheet

Running a communications network isn’t easy and it becomes more involved when it encompasses both fixed and mobile network assets. On top of that, operations and maintenance become even more complex when you’re delivering a broad mix of solutions such as: cloud, data center, internet access, productivity, security, video, and voice services. Supporting this complicated array of infrastructure and services is exactly what TigoUne Telecommunications, a Colombia subsidiary of Millicom, does, and that’s why it wanted to simplify field services as much as possible. It succeeded at doing that with AppSheet no-code technology. The past is paper  In the past, TigoUne field workers conducted audits on paper. After field workers wrote out their notes, they’d store them in a folder. This led to a lot of data being housed through unsecured means, in addition to a variety of physical locations. Having and easy to access app that standardizes the ways workers relay information to one another boosts efficiency. On top of the automation of workflows through mobile apps, it also makes your IT teams' lives easier. When you're dealing with paper documentation, it's easy to get lost or go undocumented. It also created the possibility that the records might never be entered into the system. Having flexible and powerful mobile apps that your field workers can access anywhere boosts productivity. Clearly, this was a less than ideal situation. It was just too complicated. So Sebastian Arango Alzate, TigoUne’s field audit specialist, began looking for a better solution. Automate field reporting workflows First, TigoUne adopted Excel to help streamline the field service audit process. But Excel didn’t have the ease of use Sebastian and his team were looking for. “I was trying to solve our file consolidation problem in Excel but there were still too many manual steps,” he says. So Sebastian continued his quest for the best. “I found AppSheet after searching within the organization and trying free tools like Google Forms,” he says. “In a hall meeting one of the company's managers had solved an inventory problem with AppSheet. I began exploring AppSheet as a possible solution.” After doing some research on AppSheet, Sebastian decided to give it a try. “The AppSheet platform is a secure, stable, dynamic, and economical solution,” he says. It doesn’t require anyone to type in information after the fact, as TigoUne’s initial paper-based process did. It makes information available online in real time, has monitor indicators, the ability to deliver reports via mail, and more. Plus, it’s far easier to populate and change than Excel. But what Sebastian likes best about AppSheet is how easy it is to make and update apps with the platform. “The best feature of our application is the quick modifications that can be made, without going through a long and tedious development process,” Sebastian says. More than 80 people at TigoUne currently use the app created with AppSheet’s platform. It’s employed exclusively for field work audits. The company does audits for about 80 percent of its field operations work—5,600 to 6,700 audits on 5,300 to 6,000 end customers, 35 to 40 mobile network tower sites and 250 to 280 network rollouts per month. “This is the eyes of the organization,” says Sebastian.   About TigoUne TigoUne was created through the 2014 merger of Millicom International Cellular S.A.’s Colombian mobile unit Tigo Colombia and fixed line operator Une-EPM. In Colombia, Tigo is the 3rd biggest market player in mobile, 2nd in broadband and 2nd in PayTV. Its service revenue in 2017 was 1.6 billion U.S. dollars. The company serves small and medium businesses, large companies and government, residential users, and wholesale companies. You can learn more about TigoUne at www.tigoune.com.co, Millicom at www.millicom.com This post was updated on November 18th, 2019.

Digital Inspection Trends: How to Maintain Your Competitive Edge

How are you staying ahead of the curve with your inspection practice? According to IDG's 2018 State of Digital Business Transformation white paper, over 44% of organizations have started implementing a "digital first" approach to business.  Once the monetary hurdle is surpassed, going digital is a sustainable solution that many companies are adopting. Some common reasons for digital transformation include: Investment in safe, and secure data solutions keep critical data from being compromised. Companies can easily minimize errors with automated processes and digital storage. Digital solutions increase flexibility and efficiency. Listed here are several digital trends in inspection ranging from up-and-coming to well-established.   Cloud-based storage & cybersecurity secure data When used properly, cloud-based storage serves as a preventative tool against common failures such as data loss, data breaches, and inconsistency across storage spaces. Several niche tools exist for this, but most commonly general cloud solutions are the primary storage spaces for inspection data. As security hacks continue to grow, so do the measures protecting this data. Here are several cybersecurity tools, ranging from expert-level to recommended everyday practices for employees, explained: Risk analyses: Running a check on all potential breaches and updating software to prevent them. Biometrics: Using fingerprints or facial recognition to unlock devices, minimizing hardware breaches. 2-factor authentication: Using two different devices to unlock an application. Here at AppSheet, data in your apps live in the cloud through countless integrations with well-established cybersecurity measures. Read more about how to digitize your data with AppSheet. Smart sensors provide predictive insights  Smart sensors are popping up all over, from monitoring the structural health of bridges to the safety and efficiency of assembly lines. What are smart sensors? They are small pieces of technology placed on the inspection area that track product health metrics, changes that could compromise quality, and machine operation health. In the past, people had to manually check all of these points, which can be dangerous and very time-consuming. Smart sensors help protect employee safety by predicting malfunctions in machinery, allowing employees to do so from other locations using remote monitoring. They also improve efficiency and help employees focus on improving manufacturing outcomes rather than diligently tracking for potential mistakes. Read about 3-D sensors and how they improve assembly inspection processes. Digital radiography is increasing portability, accessibility, and versatility Radiography is the process of using X-Rays to examine the internal structures of a component. It’s most frequently used for inspecting machinery, and it’s efficient because it doesn’t require inspectors to take apart the machines to look inside. Digital radiography is faster than traditional methods, which use film. The image quality is higher. It’s portable and doesn’t require physical storage space, and the process of capturing the image is much quicker. There are four types of digital radiography: Computed Radiography Direct Radiography Real-Time Radiography Computed Tomography They all capture inspection images, but the primary differences between them are contrast sensitivity, processing time, and the number of images captured. More information about each of these digital radiography types can be found here. AR/VR reduces inspection time Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are being used across the board for inspections. According to this article by researchers at Hamburg University of Technology, AR and VR are being used by several industries, the most prominent being aircraft manufacturing. The most promising use case is assisted inspection using smart glass. This startup developed smart glass for aircraft inspections, reducing inspection time from 2 hours to 20 minutes. It projects all the information about the materials, such as plate thickness, in 3D on the aircraft surface. This helps inspectors determine the exact size and scope of the problem, allowing fixes to get started right away. Mobile apps customize digital transformation With AppSheet’s mobile app builder, countless industries are able to utilize apps to move away from paper inspections and on to cloud-based, paperless solutions. Some key features for inspection with AppSheet’s mobile apps are: Signature collection. A map view to see all of your inspection locations. Workflow emails which you can set to send out emails when inspections fail. Easy data entry. Image annotations to track key inspection points. And More! Check out AppSheets Inspection apps, or learn how to build yours today. Read about how AppSheet’s customers have used AppSheet’s platform for inspection, and how you can too: Field Inspection: Millicom’s TigoUne Sees Field of Opportunities with AppSheet 3 Free Inspection Templates for Mobile Apps, Excel, and Google Sheets Smart Inspections - A Safe Bet for Manufacturing

Keeping it Moving: Using Apps for Supply Chain Management

Behind every successful manufacturing company there’s a reliable warehouse and supply chain. In fact, 79% of companies with high-performing supply chains report above-average growth. Managing a supply chain is highly resource-intensive, though, and companies today are under a lot of pressure to move products efficiently from point to point. To streamline operations, manufacturers often outsource operations to businesses like Hodge—a family-owned logistics and material handling company providing warehouse and supply chain management for customers in the midwest. Hodge, it should be noted, has a long track record of success that dates back to 1958. The company operates under this motto: “Whatever it takes to make manufacturing and supply chains work.” Today, Hodge has four sites with over 1 million-square-foot warehouse space. Around 475 employees in the warehouse division manage $100 million worth of equipment, products and materials on these sites. When it became apparent that Hodge’s logistics department needed to modernize its management system and undergo digital transformation to keep up with rising customer expectations, Hodge wasted no time getting started.  Here’s what happened. Challenge: Modernizing Legacy Processes With so much at stake, Hodge has no room for inefficiency. In supply chain coordination, mistakes can lead to delays, unhappy customers, and lost business. When Matt Hodge took over as Director of Quality Assurance in 2016, his first order of business was finding a better way to collect and manage data. Many of the company’s management and oversight processes still used paper—which is highly inefficient and prone to errors. The department was struggling to keep up. “I saw so much paper—people writing eight sheets a day, over eight hours at a time, and recording hundreds of data points,” Hodge explains. “Their hands would be cramped at end of the day. And then the paper would go into a drawer. I knew we had to digitize these operations.” Solution: AppSheet Shortly after becoming the QA Director, Hodge discovered AppSheet, the leading no-code development platform. He immediately began tinkering with the platform, looking for ways to solve everyday problems. Matt started with a single app in September 2016. By April 2019, the company had integrated 23 apps that team members now rely on every day.  Each mini app solves a specific problem or purpose at Hodge. There are apps for processes such as damage documentation, inventory, quality audits, yard management, equipment repairs, and more. One app, for instance, simplifies equipment safety inspections by integrating with Raspberry Pi devices, which are installed in kiosks around the warehouse. These inexpensive and low-maintenance devices—which are essentially small computers—provide an ideal way to enter data in a dusty warehouse setting. They offer a simple web interface, which employees can use to enter data. With this setup, team members no longer have to fill out paper forms, or risk damaging expensive computers or smartphones during safety inspections.  Results Here are some of the biggest ways that AppSheet is making a difference at Hodge: Easier data entry: The company was able to automate manual data entry using AppSheet’s barcode scanner, which Hodge calls a “genius move that transformed the way the company does business.” Now, instead of manually entering the same information over and over again when conducting inspections, employees can simply scan a barcode using their phone or tablet. In some cases, information can be pre-populated, saving a great deal of time. This also reduces errors. Improved truck sequencing: Trucks are constantly coming and going from the company’s warehouses. Sometimes, there can be as many as 60 on a single day. Before AppSheet, the company had a complicated system for sequencing pickups and deliveries. This was done manually, using laminated cards. Now, this process is managed using an app. Drivers can check in upon arrival and receive updates with instructions for loading and unloading equipment and materials. Enhanced communication: A warehouse is a busy place, making it difficult to communicate with employees. For managers, this is especially trying; most of a manager’s day is spent running around, gathering information, and putting out fires—a process that’s very distracting. Now, important information can be entered into an app and distributed to team members throughout the day using AppSheet workflows (Text SMS/Email), keeping everyone informed and updated. As you can see, after implementing AppSheet, things are running much more smoothly. Hodge’s ultimate goal is to create a culture of continuous improvement—and AppSheet is the tool that’s making it happen. “Whenever we have a process that needs to be updated, we gather our team in a room, pull up AppSheet, define the problem, and develop a process,” says Hodge. “Then, we build an app together, right there. In most cases, we can build an app for gathering data within 10 minutes. Some people can go out and start collecting data immediately. AppSheet really is something we bring to all of our projects.” According to Hodge, anyone can use AppSheet effectively, becoming a citizen developer practically overnight. To learn more about AppSheet, click the button below.  

German Maintenance Specialist Builds Apps to Modernize Management

WR-maintenando provides window and sun protection maintenance services for large commercial buildings across Germany. The company’s network of technicians specializes in maintaining glass panels, window fittings, seals, and sun protection systems.  It’s a busy operation. Customers typically have anywhere from 100 to 4,000 windows that need to be inspected and documented on an individual basis. Each year, the company completes about 3,000 projects. Servicing windows, however, is the easy part. Collecting, processing, and tracking data is the hard part. It’s an issue that recently came to a head, forcing the company to change its project management strategy entirely.  Challenge: Modernizing Management Until recently, WR-maintenando managed all of its projects with paper forms—a process that required a significant amount of backend labor from its office staff. Workers had to manually transcribe handwritten field notes and enter information into spreadsheets, which wasn’t exactly the most efficient approach. “We had a breaking moment when we realized it was time to change,” says managing partner Juergen Memhoelzler. “It was getting more and more complicated to manage all of our backend tasks. It was clear that we needed to digitize our processes in order to expedite our operations and reduce mistakes.” Solution: AppSheet To modernize its processes, WR-maintenando initially tried using iAuditor, a common safety inspection checklist app. “It was easy to use, but it couldn’t link to our spreadsheets,” adds customer support coordinator Helen Schwarz. “We had to store all of our data in their app, but we needed a solution that could interface directly with our spreadsheets.” It was clear that WR-maintenando needed a no-code app platform. After all, hiring a developer wasn’t in the budget and neither Memhoelzer nor Schwarz had any coding experience. The company needed a solution that would allow them to build apps quickly and efficiently, and with minimal training. So, when Memhoelzler stumbled on AppSheet while working on a Google sheet, he was immediately interested. Memhoelzler started watching YouTube videos and browsing AppSheet’s blog and developer notes. As a result, he was able to learn how to digitize his lists and forms while creating formulas to process data. In just a few weeks, Memhoelzler was rolling along with AppSheet.The team now has individual apps for all of its concurrent projects.  The App Instead of having to carry around stacks of paper, WR-maintenando’s technicians can enter all of their inspection data into a single easy-to-use app. Each project has its own app, each building has its own form, and each window has its own row in WR-maintenando’s spreadsheets. For each window, technicians answer a series of inspection questions before proceeding to the next one. Here are some of the app’s underlying technical features: References: The app uses AppSheet’s references function to connect buildings with floors, windows and rooms, allowing technicians to click on a room in the building and see how many windows there are, what types of windows there are, and what kinds of materials are needed for maintenance purposes. Yes/No and Show: In some areas of the form, a technician will have to enter additional information. For example, if a window also requires sun protection maintenance, a technician will have to select “yes” on the app. Then, the individual will be prompted to move to another form to provide more details. Show_if and Enumlist: Similarly, if a technician indicates a window is broken, a field will show with a dropdown list of common defects for the individual to choose. The technician can also add a new defect to the list. Technicians can also search for windows based on specific problems and locations. Technicians can enter queries such as “broken glass,” allowing them to see all of the broken windows throughout a building on one digital interface.  Another handy feature is the schedule function, which technicians can use to create a to-do list (from the Room view). When workers can’t perform maintenance on a particular window, like when a meeting is taking place in a boardroom, the scheduling feature lets them bump that appointment to another time. All scheduled meetings can be found on the Time view.  Results Since using AppSheet, WR-maintenando has significantly improved its overall operations. First and foremost, the company has seen increased customer satisfaction when compared to the former paper-based management system. “Customer feedback has been great,” says Memhoelzler. “Now, customers can see what we’re doing in real time. They can see which problems we are working on and when we are working on them.” The team is also able to collect more information with their apps, as they can fit more data into a digital form than they could on a single piece of paper. “A piece of paper only has 10 columns,” says Memhoelzler. “With our app, we can enter 40 or 50 columns, including pictures. This allows us to generate reports that are much more detailed.” Plus, there are fewer data entry mistakes because information flows directly from the app into a spreadsheet. Schwarz, who works in the company’s office, has noticed another equally important benefit: She and her fellow office workers are happier now that employees are using apps to enter information. “I’m the one who was typing out handwritten lists,” Schwarz laments. “I couldn’t always read our technicians’ handwriting. Sometimes it would take me ages to type everything into a spreadsheet. So for me, personally, I love having an app. It makes the process much easier, less error-prone and more enjoyable.” AppSheet has a variety of similar sample apps that you can explore, to help you started on your app creation journey. Examples include: Safety Audit Checklist - for construction site inspections; Inspection App - for conducting equipment inspections; Maintenance request - for property managers to input maintenance requests. You can browse all of AppSheet’s sample apps by clicking the button below.  

Three Inspection Apps that Streamline and Automate House, Factory, and Equipment Inspections

Let’s face it – inspections are hard. Whether you’re checking up on a house, a yacht, a factory, or a construction site, there are several obstacles in your way. Inspections can be undermined by human error; on-paper inspections can lead to mistakes, lost or misplaced data, and a frustratingly constant feeling of inefficiency. Add deadlines to the mix, and the drawbacks of an on-paper solution become even more apparent.  AppSheet can be harnessed to address those problems. In this article, I will introduce three free sample apps that can help streamline your inspections: A house inspection app, a factory inspection app, and a monthly equipment inspection app. Each app uses a unique feature of AppSheet to meet the challenges of conducting an inspection. Let’s take a deep-dive into how they do so—maybe you’ll find something that you can apply to your own business operations. House Inspection App Workflows allow you to create automatic actions within your app, triggered by a certain event. In this app, you can go from room to room in the house and inspect each one for safety; if a room fails an inspection, a workflow email will be triggered. This workflow email will indicate that a recheck is required of that room, thus leading to a comprehensive evaluation of the whole house. Workflows can also be utilized in a variety of other ways. You can use them to send file attachments, SMS messages, and push notifications from the app. With workflows, your creativity is your ceiling! Factory Inspection App This app uses map view to display inspections upon a map of the factory floor. Each dot represents an inspection report. You can open up a report by clicking on a dot, and see photos, inspection date and time, and other important information. You can upload your own maps—check out the ‘KML Layers’ section of the Working with Maps doc for more details.  This app is also a great example of the variety of views that AppSheet offers. Check out the dashboard view (Dashboard) and the gallery view (Journal) on the primary menu. Monthly Equipment Inspections  This app uses barcode and near-field communication scanning to keep track of electronic devices within an organization. These two features speed up equipment identification within a split second—you can see when a certain item was checked out, when it is due, and which user is in possession of it. You can also mark a certain item as invalid by pressing the thumbs-down button on each item’s detailed view. Sign off on the accuracy of an inspection by using our Signature feature. The app also uses drop-down menus using data validation, called an ENUM or ENUMLIST. By clicking on Equipment ID of the item’s detailed view, you can view a list of pre-existing equipment IDs. This can help speed up the inspection process by sparing users the need to type-in all of their findings.

Disrupting the Maritime Industry with Apps

The maritime transport industry is lagging far behind in terms of technological innovation.  So, I decided to do something about it. Two years ago, I launched a company called Vendola Solutions. Vendola is an independent IT consulting firm that helps ship owners, operators, charters, and brokers streamline technical and operational processes. Early on, I saw that my clients needed help modernizing their management strategies through digitalization—the process of using technology to solve common challenges that have been around forever. Disruption seems to be everywhere we look. But it turns out that most companies in the shipping industry today are still using paper-based management systems, and inefficient software solutions to run their day-to-day operations. This is partially due to the fact that ships tend to have limited IT resources. Ships primarily rely on satellite communications systems to transmit data to onshore personnel. Quite a few technologies are involved in this process, and they are not tightly integrated. While there are many off the shelf software solutions that can streamline commercial and technical operations, the truth is that none of the leading programs are very customizable, or capable of driving actual cost and time savings or safety improvements. Take my word for it: These companies could greatly benefit from custom apps. An app created by Tsuji. Challenge: Creating custom apps Procuring a custom app in the shipping industry is both time-consuming and expensive. Companies typically have to consult with third-party app developers, requiring a huge amount of investment. The whole process takes months to years for an app to be created. This is very frustrating for ship owners—most of whom are aware of the need for technological change but are often forced to use the same inefficient management processes they’ve been relying on for decades. I saw this as a big opportunity. I knew that if I could figure out a way to bring apps to market in a way that was less resource-intensive, I could solve a major problem for the industry. There was just one challenge: I had never developed an app from scratch on my own. Apart from having a working knowledge of languages like JavaScript and Python, I didn’t even really know how to code. My experience lies in technical and operational management and in processes like inspections, crew coordination, inventory, and logistics—not in software development. Solution: AppSheet At first, I decided to form my own technology team to develop custom apps for my clients. This approach didn’t help much. First of all, outsourcing app development was very expensive. I wasn’t actually reducing the cost of app development this way—I was just absorbing it directly. It was also very frustrating working with third-party app developers, as it required constant communication and collaboration for even the most basic processes. This resulted in countless corrections and do-overs. I had been hearing a lot about the benefits of no-code app development. Seeking a better way forward, I googled “no-code app.” I ended up testing a couple of leading solutions like PowerApps, Appily, and OutSystems but wasn’t very impressed with what I found. Shortly thereafter, I discovered AppSheet—and that’s when things took off. AppSheet was far more sophisticated and easier to control than any of the other platforms I tried. With AppSheet, you can build an app for almost any process with a little bit of practice. Without coding experience, I’ve built several apps that are changing the way the maritime industry operates. Example app: MOLSHIP Right now, one of the most exciting projects I am working on is a management app for Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), an international shipping provider based in Japan and one of the largest companies in the global maritime industry. We are working for their affiliated company, MOL Shipmanagement Co., Ltd (MOLSHIP), which is responsible for the technical management of their own fleet. MOL owns a fleet of ships, which they mostly manage themselves. There are a few internal affiliated companies and departments who are responsible for the technical management of each vessel. They organize the crew, and conduct physical inspections etc.  Superintendent of the vessel routinely visit each vessel and compile reports to ensure safety, efficiency, and regulatory compliance. Inspection is a rigorous process that involves taking many pictures and interviewing crew members. An inspection may take a full day to complete for just one ship—and that’s before counting any paperwork that needs to be completed, tracked, and managed.  I single-handedly created an inspection app to digitalize the entire inspection workflow.  The first project was successfully completed last year. The app was delivered to around 30 end users, who use it every day. Their feedback is continuously reviewed and used to improve the app.  There are two different apps, both of which can be accessed from an app launcher: A “viewer” app, which allows managers to read all inspection reports and assign tasks, and an “editor” app for reporters to use when conducting site inspections. Here is what the workflow looks like across different teams when using these apps: Pre-inspection meeting report: First, one or more inspectors will have a discussion with management about the purpose of an upcoming ship audit. The team will use the “editor” app to determine the core areas of focus. Individual tasks can be assigned and given an “open” or “closed” status. Inspection report: Next, management will send a team of inspectors out to a ship. While they are on site, the inspectors will be able to use the “editor” app to view their pre-inspection meeting report, as see any open tasks that need to be completed. From there, inspectors can write the inspection report, and update the status of each task. Ongoing feedback: It’s important for managers to provide feedback throughout an inspection. I set it up so that managers can easily add comments to an inspection report, and assign a thumbs up or thumbs down to individual practices using the “viewer” app. A single email is then automatically sent to a report conductor, who can see all responses in a single view. An app created by Tsuji. Advanced features With AppSheet, your apps can be as simple or complex as you need them to be. Just by researching AppSheet’s YouTube channel and developer community, I have been able to implement some advanced functions that others may find useful. Some of these include: Filtered view: By using filters, a user can only see his or her own report. Each report is organized by vessel name and by status—published or working. If you click on a row, the user will be taken to the report detail view, where he or she can view an improvement list, un-publish a report or go to another app. Dependent dropdown: I made it easy to see which personnel correspond with each vessel, using AppSheet’s “dependent dropdown” feature. When selecting a vessel, personnel fields can be pre-filled with corresponding technicians and engineers. References: In several places, I have created “references”—or connections—between various tables in the app. I use this to pull data from different tables when it’s needed. Actions: Actions, usually shown as buttons on a view, allow you to modify data, navigate inside and outside of an app. I wanted to make it easy for users to delete reports, so I put a “delete” button at the top of the app. However, I was aware that users may accidentally hit the button. So, I added a “lock/unlock” column to hide or show the “delete” button. Appsheet’s support desk is also quite helpful and capable of addressing efficiently any issue that we have. They are quick to respond, and always willing is The response is rapid, and they are always willing to work with us until the problem is completed. Results While the MOLSHIP project is still being tested, it’s clear that this app is going to have a big impact on the company’s overall operations. Some of the benefits for MOLSHIP include: Time savings: This app shaves several hours off of each inspection. It’s easier for inspectors to compile information as they move through a ship, as they don’t have to carry around paper sheets which can get lost or damaged. My app also eliminates the need to file and manage paper after an inspection. Enhanced communication: Each report also has an embedded distribution list. After a report is published, all parties can be notified using an SQL trigger, which I built into the app. Users can then see a list of reports that they have to read right in their app viewer. Admins will also be able to see who has read a report, and what reports have or have not been read. Clean data: One of the biggest problems that shipping companies face when manually entering data into spreadsheets is not “clean” data. This occurs when spreadsheet columns have extra symbols beyond numbers. By using an app, MOLSHIP is guaranteed clean and actionable data. I also use BI tools such as Tableau in conjunction with AppSheet, for enhanced data visualization. Reports are now clean, accurate, and easy to read. Originally, my data was hosted in Google Sheets. However, I am dealing with a large amount of data (22 tables). I migrated all of the data to SQL Server, as Google Sheets has a limit of 5 million cells. For me, personally, this is just one example of the success that I have had working with AppSheet. It’s gotten to the point where I can step in, create a sample app, and show it to customers in no time at all. My clients are always amazed when I do this and want to know how I am able to create such robust apps in just a matter of days when it takes them months. Such is the power of no-code app development. 

3 Free Inspection Templates for Mobile Apps, Excel, and Google Sheets

Inspections require countless facets: signatures, passing/failing inspections, the diversity of potential infringements, and keeping your team in the loop. This is where tools like spreadsheets (lots of people are still using paper-based forms to collect information for inspections) and mobile apps come in: they can streamline these facets and act as a one-stop digitization shop. Here at AppSheet, we understand the complexity of inspection. That's why we created three free spreadsheet templates and mobile apps for you to customize. Got an important inspection you need to prep for right away? Skip ahead and get your template now: House Inspection Checklist Inspection Site Checklist Safety Audit Checklist House Inspection Checklist Spreadsheets and mobile apps give you all the information you need in one place. In this sheet, we added color-coded quality ratings, outstanding comments, and a section to display vital information about each house: address, number of rooms, house description, and address.  You can quickly see which houses didn't pass inspections, and which parts of the house need safety improvements. No more filing through a stack of papers to figure out what needs to change! As always, all the sheets are customizable. Make a copy, add your data, and it's all yours.   Bonus: Get the mobile-friendly version and collaborate at the next level! I love this spreadsheet, but there's so much more to inspections than ratings and comments. However, there's only so much you can include in a simple spreadsheet. With AppSheet's no-code application platform, we built a mobile app version (like all AppSheet apps, it's tablet friendly and can be used on desktops!) that brings your inspection experience to new heights. Using the mobile version means less paperwork and more efficiency. More and more business are switching to apps to mobilize their inspections. Mobile solutions make data collection much easier as inspectors can upload images, text, location, and their signatures all in one place. We've incorporated several useful features for this app: Map view where you can see all your inspections sites. Signature collection for minimal paperwork. Workflow email: If the inspection fails, an email warning is triggered. Inspection Site Checklist There's a lot of information to keep track of when managing inspection sites. Contacts, status, crew size, and due dates are just a few of the data points that need to be organized. So I created this spreadsheet to help you do that! It includes all audit site contacts, status, crew size, and a short description of the work. Why not use the free tools available to you? Enter your own data and the spreadsheet is yours! Bonus: Do more with the mobile version. There's nothing more time-consuming than making small updates at a large effort. With apps, changes can be made quickly and easily no matter where you are. The mobile version has features such as: Easy data entry: Click yes/no and go. Signature collection: If your inspection form is integrated into the app, why not the signature too? Images: Adding images can help emphasize key issues of an inspection site. Centralized Data: View all historical inspections for each job from one place. Safety Audit Checklist There's a lot at stake when dealing with key safety information. No room for mistakes! This spreadsheet will help you keep track of key safety touch points such as pass/fail, depots, and personnel trained. It's easy to see whether the site passed inspections or not, and you'll be able to share this information with your team quickly and efficiently.  Bonus: Organize better and faster with the mobile version! Mobile apps allow you to quickly change and manage your data. Field managers need to be able to see which sites are failing, passing, and in progress at all stages. We made a mobile version that auto-organizes your inspections into 'passed' and 'failed'. It shows all inspections in a map view, and an option to organize training dates. Here are three reasons why we love the app version: Auto-organization allows you to quickly handle failed inspections. Sharing options make it easy to collaborate with your team. Images can highlight aspects of the inspection that you want your team to remember.   Closing Thoughts I found these apps to be incredibly all-inclusive. I was quite impressed by the easy navigation, simple data entry, and auto-organization, and I hope you find them incredibly useful. Better yet, you don't need to hire a developer or know how to code to use AppSheet! Learn more about how it works here. I'd love to hear about what successes or pain points you've found, with both spreadsheets and mobile apps for inspections! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.😀 Want to know how others use AppSheet for inspections? Read about: Smart Inspections – A Safe Bet for Manufacturing Field Inspection: Millicom’s TigoUne Sees Field of Opportunities with AppSheet Multinational Pharmaceutical Firm Roche Streamlines Site Inspections with AppSheet-Powered Apps

How SmartD Created Apps to Accelerate Pesquera Exalmar’s Digital Transformation

In recent years, technology has played an increasingly important role in almost every aspect of our lives. The proliferation of technology has had a tremendous impact on the business world. Companies generate more data than ever before. In order to make sense of it all and ensure you’re accessing accurate information at the right time, that data needs to be managed in an efficient and orderly way. This is why more and more companies are starting digital transformation initiatives that enable them to ensure they always have access to the real-time data they need to drive their businesses. Several companies in Peru, for example—including Pesquera Exalmar S.A.A., the country’s third-highest producer of fishmeal—have already started the digital transformation process to increase productivity and efficiency. Courtesy of Pesquera Exalmar S.A.A. Pesquera Exalmar S.A.A. has 25 years of experience and more than 1,000 employees. The company is responsible for extracting hydrobiological resources, processing and marketing flour, fish oil, and frozen products of marine origin. It has a fleet of 23 fishing vessels, six fishmeal and fish oil plants, and two plants that produce frozen hydrobiological products. Due to the size of the company and the scope of its operations, Pesquera Exalmar generates a ton of data every day. The data comes from various sources and, as such, doesn’t serve as a single source of truth. Some data might be duplicate, obsolete, or inaccurate. Digital transformation commences At the start of 2017, Pesquera Exalmar decided to leverage technology in a way that enables them to digitally manage all of their data. Juan Vega, the company’s CIO, guided the digital transformation process. His main objective was to make the company's core processes—operations and fleet—more productive in order to reduce costs and maximize profits. To accomplish this, he focused on two key areas: Identifying workflows and user requirements; Collecting, organizing, integrating, and analyzing the associated data.  Once that was completed, Vega and his team designed the solution architecture, paying close attention to how the tools would link data stored in various repositories, including spreadsheets, field instruments, other software solutions, and the company's enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Due to the size of the project, it was broken out into stages. Finally, Vega and his team used Microsoft Power BI to manage the data and generate indicators quickly via visualization. Once the digitalization of both the operations and fleet organizations was on track, the company decided to expand its initiative to also include its security and maintenance functions. First, the team identified the processes that could be improved, like safety inspections and the supervision of maintenance projects. To accomplish this, Pesquera Exalmar needed a tool that would help them manage tasks performed in the field more effectively. After doing their due diligence, Vega and his team concluded that mobile apps were the answer to their problems.  Pesquera Exalmar ended up contacting SmartD to create two mobile applications on AppSheet’s no-code platform. Thanks to AppSheet’s flexible design, those apps would also be integrated into the previously created system.  AppSheet, SmartD's strategic partner, is a company that has customers all over the world. AppSheet has been used to build more than 438,000 custom applications for all types of companies. SmartD is AppSheet’s representative in Peru and—with AppSheet’s no-code development platform—designs and implements applications that meet the needs of their clients in a quick and cost-effective manner. Security inspections Pesquera Exalmar operates under the OHSAS 18001:2007 certification, thus ensuring compliance with global occupational safety and health standards. This is why the company continuously generates reports on security inspections in its vessels and offices throughout the country. Prior to AppSheet, generating these reports was a time-consuming, cumbersome task. Each worker involved in the process had to register security inspections and fill out a physical report with observations about the inspection and the corrective and preventative actions that needed to be taken. They’d also have to take pictures with their phones to document the work. Once that was done, the workers would go to their computers, transcribe what was written on their physical report, download the photos from their phones, and create a final report. Altogether, this process took a lot of time that could be used on other important tasks, like planning, training activities, prevention measures, and more. Thanks to AppSheet, the whole process is much smoother. Pesquera Exalmar now uses their SSO Exalmar mobile app to record security inspections with their phones, capture pictures in real time, and add signatures of all people involved. Once a supervisor flags the information as complete, the app automatically sends a PDF report with the push of a button. Users can also access critical information from their phones, such as the number of total inspections, the number of inspections by supervisor, the number of inspections by area, the number of inspections by type, and more. The app also sends alerts and notifications when inspections have been registered and completed. Remotely supervising maintenance work In order to ensure the quality of their operations and the proper functioning of their vessels, Pesquera Exalmar’s fleet receives continuous maintenance. Although maintenance jobs are outsourced, the company still needs to supervise these tasks and monitor progress on a continuous basis. To do this, supervisors are responsible for detecting and recording the necessary maintenance work for the equipment, machines, and systems on the vessels. They also set deadlines so their team knows when projects need to be completed. In the past, all of this work was done manually. Data entry on a computer, in particular, was extremely laborious. Thanks to another new app called Supervisión Mantenimiento, managers can supervise maintenance work from their phones. The mobile app enables supervisors to assign jobs, set deadlines, take pictures, record progress, and more. After the process is complete, a PDF report can be generated with a single tap of a button. What’s more, Supervisión Mantenimiento allows users to see the most crucial data—like total supervisors, supervisions by vessel, supervisions by supervisor, supervisions by state, supervisions by motive, and more. Users also receive notifications on their phones that remind them how many days are left before each deadline Easy to use Though the company knew that mobile apps had the power to transform their operations, Pesquera Exalmar was worried that their operators would have a hard time adapting to the new workflows AppSheet enabled. That wasn’t the case. Thanks to AppSheet, Pesquera Exalmar’s mobile apps featured an intuitive design that very clearly enabled employees to do their work in less time. It’s easy for users to navigate their way around the app. And if any employee had a hard time figuring it out, SmartD was there to provide interactive and didactic training. Users could also access the manuals we created if they needed extra help. While the fear of change often causes employees to be wary of new technology, users learned to use the app quickly and had no problems with it. How the data is used Pesquera Exalmar’s staff manages their applications. They can access them from their phone, tablet, or desktop, depending on the user's preference. Generally, phones are used to record information in the field. When there’s a lot of data to edit, the company suggests that its employees use a tablet or a desktop in order to view the data in a complete and detailed way.  Access everywhere It’s not always possible to have internet access. Generally, when workers are on ships, internet connections fail. At best, service is intermittent. With AppSheet's mobile applications, users can make changes that are stored internally on a mobile device until a network connection is available and the data syncs with a cloud-based database, making the information accessible across the entire company.  This feature is very important for the company because it allows them to keep their data in a single database, making it easier to visualize their global indicators in real time and, by extension, make the right decisions. Digital transformation in progress Pesquera Exalmar continues with its digital transformation plan, looking for tools that allow them to manage all of their data in real time.  Moving forward, the company plans to continue using AppSheet’s mobile apps as they streamline data collection and reduce the time spent preparing reports. Thanks to AppSheet, Pesquera Exalmar is able to manage all of its data from one central location, ensuring that their employees are able to track data in real time—accelerating their digital transformation journey.  

Smart Inspections – A Safe Bet for Manufacturing

Inspections are an important aspect of manufacturing. The inspection process helps manufacturers ensure the quality of their processes, products, and production line resources. Businesses can work to improve the work-related health and safety of their employees and environments through inspections. Plus inspections are an important means through which companies demonstrate compliance. Traditionally manufacturing operations have relied on paper-based processes to record and share inspection information. To a large extent they still do. The problem is that physical documents and paper-based processes are prone to data loss, human error, and information-sharing delay. That can increase the risk both of manufacturing operations and businesses in general. Collecting and disseminating inspection information via mobile apps can address these problems by: Decreasing errors. Improving productivity. Increasing data accessibility. Allowing for faster decision making and action. Attracting and retaining top talent. Improving Productivity & Decreasing Errors The adoption of mobile apps frees workers from the cumbersome processes of carrying, stacking, and sorting inspection forms and records. On the front end, that eliminates the problem of lost paperwork. On the back end, it eliminates the need for secondary data entry into a computer. Entering data on a mobile app also eliminates data recording duplication efforts. Secondary data entry personnel don’t have to guess when handwriting on inspection forms and notes is difficult to read. And there’s less lag between the time an inspector enters data and others can review it. Increasing Data Accessibility Mobile apps also make data available to the parties that need it in real time. That’s helpful for organizations of all sizes. But it’s particularly valuable for large organizations with multiple manufacturing operations spread across the world. Mobile apps make it easy for people to collect, share, and review inspection data from across the company and from wherever they are. “Unlike geographically enclosed businesses with only a few locations to monitor, multinational operations can’t employ a lone health and safety officer to safeguard working conditions,” writes Saving Advice. “Organizations with far-flung field operations must prioritize health and safety, collaborating between teams and across sites to meet company and legal regulations. “To conquer these obstacles, global enterprises have begun to disrupt the traditional ways of tracking health and safety standards by adopting mobile forms,” the media outlet adds. “Platforms like these offer flexibility and freedom of movement that give managers a bird’s-eye view regardless of the scale of operations.” Allowing for Faster Decision Making & Action Providing people with the information they need when and where they need it allows them to make better decisions faster. That’s particularly important when it comes to manufacturing inspections. Inspection data varies based on the organization and initiative. But it may include information about: Accidents or faulty processes resulting in the injury or death of employees. Events that led to non-worker injuries. Fire exits or other information related to evacuation accessibility. Occupational diseases. Site-specific conditions that may be dangerous. That said, you can see how taking action sooner rather than later on such data can mean the difference between health and harm – or even life and death. Real-time access to data via mobile apps, and related analytics and notifications, also can help manufacturing operations ensure compliance with regulations, drive continual improvement, and be more competitive. Attracting & Retaining Top Talent Of course, an important part of being competitive in today’s business environment involves hiring and retaining the right people to get the job done and move into the future. Adopting connected technology like mobile apps can serve as a tool to attract talent to an organization. The use of mobile apps shows millennial job candidates that manufacturers are forward-thinking businesses. “There is no easier way to attract the millennial workforce than by adopting and utilizing technology,” notes Manufacturing.NET. “Millennials grew up as digital natives. Not only are they adept at using technology, but they find comfort in it, and are attracted to companies that utilize it fully.” It may not seem particularly high tech to move away from paper-based processes through the use of mobile apps. But leveraging connected technology to improve productivity and business outcomes is what digital transformation is all about. And mobile apps can be an important part of driving productivity, gathering and acting on current data, driving new value, and lowering an organization’s risk. Bonus: AppSheet has a lot of inspection app templates for manufacturers, home inspections, and IT inventory managers. Primary functions included in the following Equipment Inspection App include: Location-based items with pre-filled fields. Tabbed inspection forms, with barcode, signature and photo fields. Historical inspections associated with items. Employee directory with related locations and inspection history. Charts with a quick overview of percentage values of Passed and Failed inspections.

1of2