Cheney Free Press -

 
 

By JOHN McCALLUM
Editor 

Less paperwork - quicker responses

Cheney’s proposed work order system could lead to more efficient use of resources and quicker service response times

 


The written work order may become a thing of the past if the Cheney City Council approves a new software system proposed by the city’s Public Works Department.

Maintenance Edge is a software package that, combined with the purchase of Apple iPads, will allow virtually instant response to problems encountered by residents and city personnel in the field, as well as the ability to create more detailed reports for future analysis. Public Works Director Todd Ableman said the system lines up perfectly with work the city has been doing the past 6-7 years to find and record the location of every piece of equipment it has — every valve, water main, meter, hydrant, manhole and even sign.

“We have 1,900 signs,” Ableman said. “I didn’t know that until I did this.”

The “this” he is referring to is the city’s work beginning in 2008-2009 to physically log into its system the location of its equipment using GPS — Global Positioning System. Now that the work is done, Ableman and any of his employees can pull up a map of the city and see the exact location of every piece of equipment.

But the question arose on what to do with all this information? Ableman said there was software available when they started the project that would have provided the information management they are now looking at getting with Maintenance Edge — but for a hefty price tag.

The total cost of the Maintenance Edge system, including 15 iPads and supporting equipment, is $19,092.50, with the software running an annual fee of $4,020. Other software packages require the user to buy individual “seats,” essentially authorization for specific individuals to access it, making it more expensive.

By contrast any city employee can access Maintenance Edge. For instance, if a resident notices a stop sign knocked down, they could make a call to the city where the employee receiving the call would enter it into the system and send it to the field essentially via email.

That would generate a work order to the field crew, who could access via their iPad all the information about the problem and its location. No need to return to the shop to get a work order, no need to transfer the original call to the right department or leave a message with someone.

Ableman said the reverse can also happen, with employees finding problems logging them into the system as they see and repair the issue.

Since the information is already entered into the city’s data system, Ableman and others would be able to call up reports that might show ongoing problems, such as areas where signs are always being knocked down, or a water main that is frequently leaking. That information could be passed along to the proper department, such as the Police Department in the sign example, or utilized in ordering new equipment.

“Actually I don’t know why he’s (Ableman) calling it a work order system.” Mayor Tom Trulove said. “It seems to me it’s a management tracking tool.”

The system will also allow the city to track how efficiently work is getting done, providing for better allocation of resources.

“Do we need two guys on that truck or one?” Trulove asked. “Not only should this save time, but also improve the quality of service.”

Originally the proposal was to go before the council at its May 13 meeting. The potential lack of a quorum, which didn’t materialize although two members were absent and one showed up feeling ill, and need to quickly approve funding for the North Sixth Street Preservation project and pay bills led Trulove to postpone this and several other items.

Besides improved service, Ableman thinks the new system will also eventually save the city money by reducing the drive time for employees and keeping them in the field longer.

“When we drive to a certain location 2-3 times a day, those miles start adding up,” he said. “These trucks don’t get the greatest of gas miles.”

The Maintenance Edge system is scheduled to be on the council’s May 27 meeting agenda.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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