Up in the clouds - PODFather featured in Innovoil

17 October 2012

Published date: 17th October 2012
Source: InnovOil
Location: Scotland

Oil and gas players looking for a way to manage their operations effectively and in real time need look no further than UK-based Valley Technology’s PODFather cloud-based mobile software solution.

The PODFather, a system integrating mobile personal digital assistants (PDAs) with web-based back-office software applications, not only delivers real-time operational management but also removes the problems associated with paper-trail processes.

Originally launched in 2006 as an electronic proof of delivery (POD) system for logistic companies, Valley has since evolved the PODFather Field Service technology to the point where it can easily replicate almost any kind of paper form – from basic delivery dockets to technical inspection paperwork and from timesheets to asset logs. This innovative tweak makes the technology an especially useful application for the oil and gas industry.

Jobs entered into a web-based back-office system – either via manual input or via an existing in-house IT application – can then be allocated to an employee out in the field. Each mobile worker is equipped with a handheld device which can vary in specification depending on the environment they are working in – ranging from semi-rugged smartphone-style units to ultra-rugged IS-rated handhelds for use in hazardous Zone 0 and 1 environments.

Each device is equipped with mobile internet and allows for jobs to be stored locally, mitigating the need for mobile network coverage in the completion of the activity. Completed job sheets are then synchronised with the central system when the user re-enters network range.

Moreover, Valley has recently upgraded the system to create of job sheets directly on the PDA, which has proved invaluable for engineers visiting sites where the number of forms needed has been unknown prior to the visit.

Flexible

It is the flexibility of the PODFather platform that makes it unique. It is possible to build custom templates to ensure the right information is both sent and collected from the mobile device, and once complete the data are presented in the office in a PDF format designed to replicate the outgoing paper forms.

Building a bespoke application to do this would usually require a significant investment and well over a year to implement, but this system can be customised and deployed in days, with the company then able to phase out paperwork.

Commercially this gives a very fast return on investment for a number of reasons, the most obvious of which is improved cash flow. If paperwork is returned faster, it can be processed and invoiced more quickly. Revenues are improved, as job sheets no longer go missing – commonly 2-3% of revenue can be lost for this very reason.

If the customer needs a copy, they can either access it online or have the system email a PDF copy to them in real time. As such, customer service is improved given that queries are handled more efficiently, with site and asset information reaching the customer more quickly. Invoice disputes are also easily resolved, as electronic paperwork is easily retrieved from a permanent online archive.

The final benefit comes down to administrative savings owing to automating what was once a paper-based process. Not only do PDA forms require a similar amount of time to complete compared to their paper counterparts, but electronic forms eliminate the need for the information to be manually rekeyed once the worker is back at the office.

The PODFather is provided using a Software as a Service (SaaS) business model, which allows for mobile business functionality without the large upfront capital investment required for on-premise servers, software licences and development work. Customers simply purchase or lease their PDA hardware with a one-off charge to set up and implement their custom forms, and then pay a monthly licence fee based on the number of devices deployed.

 

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We're a business software company specialising in solutions for mobile workforces; with a focus on logistics, construction, and field service environments. Find out more about us.

If you want to reduce the burden of paperwork on your own business, please contact us.

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