The Case for Paperless Maintenance


We have been talking for decades about Industry 4.0 and digitizing paper workflows, but many maintenance operations in asset-intensive industries have yet to go paperless. While digital transformation is revolutionizing how information is shared across the enterprise, paper still seems to play an important role, especially for maintenance work orders. As time-consuming, labor-intensive, and error-prone as paper-based systems may be, many maintenance organizations have shied away from going digital and mobile over the concern of going through the changes. If you are ready to build the case for change, keep reading this article.


The Challenges of Today’s Paper-based Processes

You intuitively know that using paper is costly and has an environmental impact in its production, transportation, and disposal. Using paper also has a breadth of impacts and hidden costs to your operations:

  • Time to print work orders. Significant time is spent to print, attach work instructions, sort, and distribute work orders.
  • Manual data entry errors. Technicians write down information as they work and then later the updates are manually input into the computer systems creating the opportunity for inconsistent inputs, misinterpretation, and data entry errors. This two-step process has both a productivity and data quality impact.
  • Data lags. Data can become irrelevant if not processed fast enough. If a technician finds an issue, how long does it take with your organization to address the new challenge using your current processes? Consider your current MTTR (Mean Time To Repair) metrics and how much of this process is impacted by the notification and work order creation and assignment process.

What is the productivity loss to your organization with these paper-driven issues?


Start Your Journey by Understanding the Benefits of Going Paperless

Keeping work orders digital through the end-to-end processes of maintenance and repair can provide significant benefits to your operations.


Save Money

Conservatively, paper and printing can cost 5c per page. When you consider the cost of printers and servicing, the total cost can be much higher. Using at a real-world example, Furnas – an electricity generation and transmission company – saved 500,000 sheets of paper per year (~$25,000) by going digital.


Reduce Environmental Impact

The estimated environmental impact of 10 million pages of paper is:

  • 2,500 Trees
  • 56,000 Gallons of Oil
  • 450 Cubic Yards of Landfill Space
  • 595,000 kW (Kilowatts) of Energy

In addition, going paperless will reduce CO2 emissions, reduce the elimination of rain forests, and reduce the fuel used to transport paper.


Gain Productivity with Real-time Data

With technicians using mobile devices to manage their work orders, they can communicate real-time data about equipment and work-order status. Planners can dispatch up-to-date schedules to prioritize the most important tasks. Staff can make better decisions faster to address issues and avoid disruptions and downtime that might otherwise result due to delays inherent in the manual reporting process. An example of this productivity impact is AB InBev, the largest brewery in the world, who reduced their MTTR (Mean Time to Repair) by 79% – from 24 to 5 days – by replacing their paper-based maintenance processes with a digital mobile solution. AB InBev also saved over 7.2 million sheets of paper per year ($360,000), reduced downtime, increased production, and increased the productivity of their technicians and workers by 15%.


Increase Wrench Time

A mobile solution enables technicians to receive work orders wherever they are, record data and work order status using drop down menus for efficiency and consistently in data structure while removing the need to process paperwork. All the data a technician needs to complete a task is at their fingertips. For Furnas, their high-level staff gained more time for technical activities and they were able to reassign 46 people to other functions as a result of going paperless.


Improve Data Visibility and Accessibility

With a paperless maintenance system, all work order data can be immediately updated in the system of record such as SAP PM, providing maximum visibility into maintenance activities by the broader organization. Data can be instantly accessible to other applications for improved production/operations management, including visualization, and data storage.


Improve Data Quality

Replacing paper process reduces low-value manual data collection and corresponding error opportunities. Automated data entry gives an accuracy rate of 99.99%. With the real-time capture of data, you can also avoid the discrepancies caused by multiple conflicting data entries on the same work order such as a new notification after the repair was already applied.


Automate Compliance Adherence

Reduce the effort of compliance management from the operational perspective. Paper-based records are less secure than digital. Important documents may get misplaced or destroyed due to various reasons, as paper is perishable. Documents, especially compliance related ones, if not stored digitally may be lost, leading to serious quality-related claims and non-compliance actions from regulatory authorities.


Overcoming Roadblocks to Making the Change

As with all transformation processes, there are challenges to going paperless. The change impacts your people, processes, policies, and technologies. This is why you need a partner who understands the unique requirements of maintenance and repair operations. Sigga can help. We have 20 years of digitalization and mobilization experience in helping enterprise operations teams go paperless. Our digital mobile solutions have been proven through deployments across large industries globally. Contact us to help you complete the business case for change and get started on the path to greater productivity, data accuracy and cost savings.


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