Cooling towers vary in size from steel factory-assembled units supporting water-cooled HVAC systems to massive field-erected structures that serve power plants, refineries, and industrial facilities. But one thing that all cooling towers have in common: they require regular inspections.
The Solvative team knew this challenge couldn’t be sorted out in the confines of an office. To understand how field inspections worked and the limitations inspectors faced, we headed to an actual cooling tower installation site. There the Solvative team was able to walk through a mock inspection and ask questions (lots of them). Inspections can take place several stories up,
often in tight spaces, and out in the elements–not exactly ideal for taking notes on paper. It would be easy to miss something critical and not report it. Photos were another problem. There was no easy way to include them in a report that wasn’t digital. What’s more, inspection reports were often weeks in the making and there was no approved format.
What SPX Cooling Technologies wanted and needed from those inspection reports was consistency, clarity and efficiency — all the benefits we knew could be designed into an easy-to-use application.
Seeing an inspection firsthand, and talking directly to the inspectors, it was easy to see the pain points—and there were many. We got to work designing an app that could lead an inspector through every key step in a consistent, ordered manner.
An iPad would replace pen, paper and camera. Photos could be slotted directly into the appropriate report sections; and the app would be able to store information even when cell service wasn’t available. If desired, an inspector could even generate and send a report right from the field; or head back to the office with all the building blocks of the inspection in hand, add details where needed, and create a clean, concise PDF to send to the client.
For the Marley representatives performing inspections, the app was a “holy cow, this saves me so much time and energy” moment. It led to more thorough inspections that could be produced much more quickly and easily.
For customers who rely on the cooling towers to keep their operations running, the app has resulted in inspection reports that provide a more detailed look at critical issues, including images, which has led to better preventive maintenance, fewer unplanned outages, and better management of the maintenance and repair budgets.
We continue to work closely with SPX Cooling Technologies to improve and expand the app’s capabilities, based on input from their engineers and technical field representatives.
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