Recently, we completed a project with a worldwide supplier of products and services to the global oil and gas production industry. This client was bringing a new manufacturing facility online and wanted the ability to track the amount of labour required for each custom engineered piece of compression or power generation equipment they build.
The oil and gas company didn’t have a quick solution for services procurement that could capture the time individuals working on the floor spent against running work orders and production activities. Their current systems were confusing, and workers weren’t able to easily document their time on corresponding projects while working in their facilities. The tradesmen's time entry data needed to be captured in real-time, with a simple interface for inexperienced technology users, that was always available and needed to run on workers’ mobile devices. Due to frequent maintenance downtimes in this client's systems, their tailored solution is needed to allow for frequent offline data entry.
Often businesses faced with this kind of challenge would invest in the development of a custom native application. But this can get costly, fast. On top of the expense to build the app, there would be continuous maintenance required, updates, add-on functionality, etc. They knew there had to be a more cost-effective way to do this. After working with the Convergent team, the company decided to move ahead with a progressive web application [PWA]. The project was completed in two distinct phases.
Phase 1 - Time Capture & Approvals
In phase one, the client required an online interface that would be capable of capturing the time of their workers in the production facility located in Houston. Tradesmen did not have a quick or easy solution to document the time spent building the components for customer orders and tracking them against production orders. They were also constantly scanning barcodes, for items and their own individual badges, while on the production floor.
After working together and after going through several iterations with input from end-users, we built a mobile-friendly application that can run on either Zebra ruggedized mobiles or other handheld devices that also incorporated a barcode scanner. Tradesmen are now able to easily open a work order on the mobile device, scan the necessary information for their production order, and input their time for that project to send for approval.
All in just a few clicks. The application also routes the entries to specific project managers for approval. At which time, managers can locate time discrepancies and review the final skid before updating the data into their SAP system.
Phase 2 – A Frugal Solution for Offline Capabilities
In phase two of the project, the team needed to add additional offline capabilities. Like any large SAP customer, this oil and gas company had frequent periods of downtime within their SAP systems that were required for maintenance and updates. They required a solution for their tradesmen that would allow for the submission of their time to their highlighted projects and send for approval during offline periods.
This was important because the company’s network of employees often work around the clock to keep systems and their customer’s businesses moving. In order to maintain the necessary data entry for round the clock workers, an offline progressive web application needed to be designed and effectively deployed.
Offline OData services were an option but can be costly to implement and maintain. Instead, we used a Google Services tool. Progressive web applications [PWA] are mobile website experiences, designed to look, feel, and work the way native applications do, only in a web browser. The application also has significantly faster load times in comparison to a customer native application. But arguably the most important feature was the cost-effectiveness for the client.
By using a PWA instead of developing a new native application, our developers took a six-figure project and virtually cut it in half. Implementing a PWA was a great frugal solution to our client's frequent downtime periods, the workers at the production facility didn’t miss a beat because all the features that loaded during online periods, loaded even faster using the offline PWA.
A Positive Outcome
Overall, our offline solution for this worldwide oil and gas company was deployed and adopted seamlessly and continues to meet all the necessary requirements for this client. Due to COVID19, the Houston and Canada facilities have continued to operate but with a much lower capacity with ongoing social distancing. It’s been a challenging time, but the client’s leadership team is proud of how their staff has handled all these changes.
At ConvergentIS we thrive on developing frugal solutions for our clients. Our development team is equipped with the knowledge and tools for transforming stressful, costly business issues into beautifully simple solutions. For this client, we are excited about what comes next.
Interested in learning more about PWA’s and other frugal solutions?