Asset and tool tracking is a hot topic these days, and for good reason; more accurate maintenance and billing, fewer lost or stolen assets and a return on investment that's often well within the first year, but that's only if the pilot program goes well.
After 14 years in the business, Recon Dynamics knows a thing or two about what a well-structured pilot should include to make sure it's a success.
Here are five steps that will help your pilot be a success:
- Set clear goals and success metrics for the program
Before starting a pilot, schedule a meeting of the stakeholders and clearly define the goals, objectives and a specific period of time. You and your provider should both agree to what success looks like. The go/no go decision at the end should be made as objectively as possible.
The objectives should be defined and written down along side specific agreed upon metrics for success. For example, if saving time on maintenance is an objective, then decide what percentage of time must be saved to indicate success or failure. If saving money by not having to replace misplaced or stolen tools is an objective decide upon a specific amount or percentage of money to be saved during the pilot to indicate success.
- Understand the strengths and limitations of the technology you are considering
It’s important to understand both the capabilities and the limitations of the technology you’re implementing. There’s a wide range of technologies available, and some might limit the amount of information to fully inform the actions you were hoping to take. For example, passive sensor technologies, such as passive RFIDs or other scan-based systems are not going to capture tool utilization, temperature, accelerometer, or magnetometer data. If you were hoping to reduce maintenance costs, or have better visibility into off-renting opportunities, a more robust active sensor system will be required. However, many of those systems require regular battery changes that eat into efficiencies and reduce the net benefit of the program.
Similarly, many systems require wifi or clear line-of-site to function. On many sites neither of those are available. Even if WiFi or Bluetooth was available, be sure to understand their limitations relative to the widespread use of signal-limiting metal storage bins.
- Define the length of the pilot
Once you've determined the pilot’s objectives and the technology being tested, establish a fixed length of time to pilot the system, complete with sub divisions for various features. For example, in the case of safety related sensors, a benchmarking period of 2-3 weeks is recommended when the workers are not aware that their behaviors are being tracked. After this benchmarking period, an audible or visual signal that reminds them of certain safety violations is turned on and the pilot becomes about how quickly worker behavior changes relative to the benchmark.
Our experience is that 100 days +/- a week is an ideal amount of time to get to know if a system will be right for your needs.
- Plan the implementation and make it happen
The on-boarding plan you develop and execute is critical for success. You must get buy-in from all of the personnel influenced by the program BEFORE YOU START. Technology that is not used can not be adequately tested. If you do the work of socializing the project before the pilot clock starts, employees that may have been skeptical of feeling threatened by technologies that they did not ask for have time to gain a better understanding ad ask questions, An experienced vendor will understand the pattern of tech adoption and should be able to help map out a plan to get this buy-in.
In addition to buy-in be sure that the teams and their leaders get adequate training and resources throughout the pilot program to create the most realistic results. You’ll want to make sure the benefits reveal themselves clearly throughout the program, and that there’s a go-to person to contact in the event of any problems. There should be no surprises as you set your organization up for success. The goal is always some version of making sure that the technology makes everyone’s jobs easier. You want the successful users to become company champions.
- Get feedback and adjust accordingly
A pilot is a really a chance for trial and error, and to learn how the technology can be implemented effectively in your particular organization. A well-structured pilot will have very specific trials week-to week to show how the system works in different situations. At the same time, each company has its own strengths and different types of challenges.The pilot period is a time for the company's own data to reveal custom needs. Unstructured data is often a great source of new learning for stakeholders who have been so close to their business for many years, and the truths that are revealed in tracking are only a benefit to those who are willing to adjust accordingly.
If your organization is considering implementing a tool and tracking system contact Recon Dynamics and we will do everything possible to make it a success.