When important tools must be shared across team members, how do you know when you have enough to get the job done? Short of that, who do your team members go to if and when those items are needed but can’t be found?
SUBJECT: Missing Tools
Hey all, I can’t seem to find…
The answer may not be evident until after someone is frustrated enough to fire off some similar last chance missive. At this point, is the search for necessary tools holding your team back from innovation?
It’s important that engineers at DornerWorks know where they can find an oscilloscope or Lauterbach debugger when they need it for a customer project. And when those tools are not where they should be, an engineer needs to know who is still using them.
DornerWorks staff have been using Microsoft SharePoint for years to help track equipment. Engineers and other team members can claim an item in the system, which then tracks who has the item and where and when it is checked back in.
“It was rudimentary, simple, and worked. I was happy with it,” DornerWorks Senior Software Engineer Dan Rittersdorf says of the original system implemented years ago.
Increased security measures organization-wide had the unfortunate consequence of restricting the app’s capabilities, however. Rittersdorf and other engineers were once again forced to walk all the way to the lab to find a tool and check it in and out.
“I was sad about that,” Rittersdorf says. “So when I heard an app was being developed that would allow me to use my phone to check-in and check-out again – I was thrilled.”
IoT engineer Brandon Butler has built an application that simplifies the process, making it easier to check tools in and out with a smartphone. Butler added an intuitive UI to the existing web-based system. His current goal is to create a mobile app that makes it just as easy as possible to use. A mobile app also allows for convenient notifications.
“When someone wants an item, they can hit the ‘request’ button to send an email to the person holding the item as well as a push notification to their phone,” Butler says.
The app integrates with a device’s camera, which allows users to read QR stickers on important tools. Each QR code is further identified by the icon at the center of each code, explaining which department the associated tool belongs to. The code brings the user to a screen dedicated to that tool, where they can choose to check it out, return it to the lab, or find information on when it was last checked out, who checked it out, and which building it was checked out from.
More recently, Butler added the option to upload images.
“From your phone or from a computer, you pull up an item and if there’s no picture you can upload a picture,” he says.
“Now I can tell one confabulator from another by looking at the picture,” Rittersdorf says. “I love that, and it’s now community-maintained content, to a certain extent – and I can contribute to an item’s photo, description, etc.”
Rather than simply being designated “available,” items can be digitally tagged with the place they were last checked in to, saving engineers the hassle of traveling to a specific lab, only to find out the tool is somewhere else. Another feature tracks calibration measurements, making it clear how long ago a device was last calibrated, and how it was configured.
In a medical setting, this system can be used to help healthcare practitioners do their jobs with less stress. For industrial companies, seamless equipment check-in systems help work run more efficiently on the factory floor. It can be built onto an organization’s existing privacy settings, which means there are fewer hurdles involved in getting people to use the system.
Integrating this technology into your products is as simple as scheduling a meeting with the engineering team at DornerWorks.
Every company wants to serve their customers with new and better products, but product development can get complicated, causing stress for everyone involved. We provide innovative engineering to turn your ideas into reality so that your customers’ lives change for the better.
We can help with all aspects of your product development cycle as well as help you understand when and how important equipment is being used, so you can focus on your customers.
Contact us today to get started.