fire safety systems and equipment are critical business functions to
manufacturers, to provide for the well-being of their employees and the
security of their plants and products. Ford Motor Company, with
manufacturing facilities across the world, depends on a corps of
internal fire inspectors to effectively manage and service the
company’s alarm testing and fire suppression equipment.
Until recently, inspection records were recorded
and filed manually. Ford turned to AppForge MobileVB to help develop
its own in-house solution. “We wanted something that could be tailored
to our very specific needs,” says Don McNabb, fire inspector and IT
developer at Ford.
The resulting application, named
InspectionTracker, allows daily field inspections to be done quickly
and electronically. Each inspector uses a Palm handheld device or
personal digital assistant (PDA) that has been fitted with a Symbol
Technologies CSM 150 bar code scanner. After scanning the bar code
label affixed to the piece of fire equipment or alarm, the inspector
enters in the results on the device, and a record is created in the
program running on the device. When the inspector returns to his or her
office, the PDA is synchronized with the company’s internal database,
and the inspection records are instantly updated.
“InspectionTracker has been used to complete more
than 40,000 inspections, and it has proven itself in two ways,” says
McNabb. “First, it has allowed us to create and manage a massive amount
of work records in dramatically less time. Second, our inspectors can
now work more quickly and efficiently, which saves them valuable time
and results in enhanced fire safety for our company.”
McNabb is now developing the next version of the
application, which will be renamed FordScan. It will allow for both
wireless and cradle synching, accommodating all Ford facilities and
their current technologies. “We hope to use this new version at more
than 80 plants in North America, then make an effort to promote it
globally to 130 more facilities,” he adds.