Remote Workers and Network Coverage. How Much Should Signal Strength Impact Your Decision to Use a Smartphone or Tablet Based Field Management Solution?
Not at all if you use RFID tags…
It’s another of those things that we hear quite regularly… “oh we don’t want to use anything that relies on a mobile phone signal, because the coverage around here is so poor”.
If you live in the centre of London or any other major city that has an abundance of 4G and Wi-Fi coverage, you may have thought that such arguments had been consigned to history. But the reality is still that in the UK, when you get to the extremities of our small island, signal strength can still be debilitatingly poor.
But this is one of the many reasons that our own developers have worked so tirelessly to overcome what is a significant hurdle to provide what we feel to be one of the best solutions around for ensuring that stuff gets done when it needs to get done, and that people are kept safe in the process.
Obviously, we are way beyond relying on “live” internet connections to monitor remote workers. Doing that would never offer the kind of reliability that a remote worker would need. The invention of the app was the real breakthrough moment here in that it meant that a huge amount of “stuff” can be managed by the phone and their ever-faster and more efficient processors and storage. Simply because the app already knows what needs to be done processing-wise and can store a lot of relevant information to help it to do it. Without the need to rely on an internet connection to gain access to a powerful server somewhere.
In other words, much of the processing just gets done on the phone itself, and no signal or connectivity is required at all to do that.
But what about for time or location specific tasks? What if your remote worker is out of signal at the time you want them to do something, or in a location where coverage is simply out of the question?
Well that’s when you just have to be a bit smart….
If all you need is for your field-staff to be able to call up one of your library of forms at a random point, all we do is make sure that they are synchronised to your fleet of mobile phones at regular intervals. Enabling them to call one up whenever they need, signal or no signal. You have a lot of forms? You should be able to store thousands of forms on a single device, no problem. You can with ours, anyway.
As far as time-specific activity is concerned, if you know in advance when an activity needs to get done, then it is very easy just to send a schedule of activity to the phone at a time when you know that it has coverage. Like when its owner is at home asleep, for example. We enable a user defined setting to automatically send jobs and schedules down to remote workers well before they venture out into the back of beyond.
Carrying out asset specific tasks that require pre-defined or stored information? This is where RFID really comes into its own. By assigning a form to a job or asset before the field worker has left to do the job, all the asset and job-specific information can be transferred to the phone whilst in coverage. The worker arrives at the job, has no coverage, and swipes the asset. At which point the form “appears” with all the site and asset specific information pre-filled. How? Well the pre-populated form had been on the phone since the job was downloaded five hours previously, but is only presented to the field worker once the tag is swiped. With or without signal.
And what about proving attendance, activity and presence in remote locations with no signal, GPS coverage or even the possibility of mobile mast triangulation? Again, we rely on RFID technology. By placing tags at specific locations on a site, when the tags are swiped, the unique identity of the tag can be stored (tens of thousands of swipes can be stored without causing even the most basic of smartphones a problem) along with the time it was swiped and who by. At such a time as the phone re-enters coverage, all of the swipe activity is communicated to the remote server.
Giving you your bullet-proof audit trail of compliance activity, wherever you, your sites or your field-workers may be.
For more information about how TourTraxUK can help you to keep workers busy and safe even in the remotest of environments, get in touch with Richard Dickety on 01634 757 088 or 07779 563678.