On a campus that is a second home to nearly 29,000 students, faculty and staff with over 200 buildings, campus-wide maintenance can become quite a daunting task. To help manage the workload of nearly 54,000 work orders per year, Western Michigan University Maintenance Services has taken the leap into the 21st century and brought iPads into the workplace. In addition to streamlining the work order process, iPads have also created a real-time and accurate process of communicating with our customers. These new tools have also played a huge role in the University’s sustainability goals by eliminating paper work orders and time sheets.
In 1997, Maintenance Services took the first step into TMA Systems, a maintenance management system. Over the years, an increased workload created a need for a more efficient process. Maintenance Services introduced a personal desktop assistant to a select group of the skilled trades people—and the paperless journey began. In 2013, with the switch to the web-based TMA program, Maintenance Services was able to take the technology to the next level and supply each technician with an iPad. This new tool gives each individual the ability to receive, comment on and complete all work orders in real time. As a result, our customers are kept up to date on the work they request by receiving a series of emails that are triggered by changes made to their work orders.
While the electronic work orders are a great benefit to the Maintenance Services department, they are far from the only benefit of the iPads. The skilled trades people now have the capability to send and receive emails from their iPad, as well as take photos, set reminders, and keep notes. In addition to the basic feature of the iPad, the trades have been supplied with various additional apps to help them in the field such as a three‐dimensional building model viewer and access to operator manuals and equipment specifications.
In the future, Maintenance Services plans to continue expanding the uses of the iPads, but will always fondly remember where it all began—with the selfie.