For AppSheet - By Gwen Chen
The I-care Group provides machine measurement services to industrial companies around the world. These field services are vital to companies who do business in energy, oil, pharmaceutical, mining, automotive and many other verticals.
The company is based in Belgium. It also has offices in Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the U.S., and soon Australia. But most of I-care’s 350 employees spend the bulk of their time in the field.
These machine doctors, as I-care Group’s Reliability Engineer Julien Grégoire calls them, provide field services for customer sites and other offsite locations where equipment resides. There they use vibration, infrared, ultrasound, and other tools and technologies to collect data about machine health. The data provided from these field reports is sent back to businesses for analysis. These services help determine what the equipment requires in the way of lubrication, repair, or other maintenance.
Courtesy of I-care Group
Searching for Efficient Solutions through Mobile Apps
Most of I-care's machine doctors are still using paper and other inefficient software tools to collect their field reports and document assessments. So when Julien became available for a new project, his colleagues asked him to investigate how I-care might improve field workers efficiency.
“It was all about saving time in the field and having very accurate and reliable information from the field,” Julien says. “So no more copying from a sheet of paper to an Excel file and then putting the Excel file in the Word and making a report from that.”
Designing Apps Specific to Your Needs
Julien is very familiar with Excel and Google Sheets. He’s not a software developer. Nonetheless, AppSheet’s no-code platform allowed him to create 10 to 15 mobile apps for I-care.
“Now we have very high-performing apps—not just a Google Form,” says Julien, adding his colleagues previously used AppSheet for simple forms, but hadn’t explored the platform beyond that.
I-care field workers use one of those apps during vibration analysis of turning machines. “The AppSheet-powered app is not taking vibration data, we have specific tools for that,” Julien explains. “The app helps them taking data from the machine, with pictures and the location as well, some useful information for the health analysis, and some technical specifications.”
Courtesy of I-care Group
The app also allows those field workers to generate reports from that data more efficiently, share that information with others, and even access schedules showing what machines they need to visit next.
Improving field work efficiency is the main focus area of I-care’s AppSheet efforts. But the company is using AppSheet at the office as well.
The company built an attendance app for the office. Workers and visitors enter their information into the app as they come onsite. That way, if there’s ever a fire at the facility, I-care will know what people are in the building and need to be accounted for.
Apps Providing Concrete Results
Five people have been using the I-care vibration analysis app. The app initially ran as part of a pilot project for a single I-care customer.
Julien got the request for this app at the end of September. A first prototype was ready and being tested in November. Beta users then asked for a few changes and upgrades. The app has been stable since December.
“They told me they were saving a lot of time in their field program, being able to take measures of more equipments in a day," Julien says.
With the app, vibration analysis engineers no longer waste time waiting to access schedules and populate machine measurements into databases and less efficient applications.
“I believe that for vibration analysis I-care previously just took the database from the device that makes the measurements,” Julien explains. “But this is very slow and heavy, so they lost a lot of time. For the scheduling we just used some big Google Sheets, and they had to make some filters themselves to figure out what they had to do.”
He adds that the photo feature of the app is also beneficial. It allows vibration engineers to take pictures of the machine and draw on those photos to remember the specifics of their visits.
I-care expects to make the vibration analysis app available to between 50 and 100 people in the coming months.
And I-care uses the office safety app across the organization. In addition to addressing safety, this app makes it easy for people to enter data and helps I-care meet Belgium’s compliance requirements.
Creating Your Future
These are just a few examples of the AppSheet apps I-care is using or has in development. Julien is also making a lubrication analysis app that’s similar to the vibration analysis app.
He’s also creating a corporate FAQ app at the request of his supervisor. That will deliver answers about internal processes. And it will provide all employees with quick and easy access to people who can assist them with specific questions and challenges.
“AppSheet is getting more and more popular within the company,” says Julien, who spends two days a week creating apps. He hopes to transition to creating apps full time starting this year.
Creating your apps doesn't have to be a solitary experience either. AppSheet has a robust community forum where fellow creators and AppSheet employees can share and troubleshoot ideas together.
Editor's note: Curious to see how I-care Group's work? While we cannot provide those apps, we do have more than 60 app templates for you to copy and customize. These apps work on phones, tablets and desktops, as shown by the Field Services sample app below. On AppSheet Sample App Page, you can filter apps by Industry, Function, or Feature.
This blog post was updated on November 12th, 2019.