Magazine Article | January 1, 2006


Source: Field Technologies Magazine
Integrated Solutions, January 2006
Maintaining 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.