Mobile devices have made work easier: syncing data between mobile devices and the main database means less data entry work, less chance of human error and better productivity all around.
The downside is that these devices depend on an internet connection to send and receive information. So, what do you do when there’s no internet connection?
In our personal lives, a lost internet connection might mean a few minutes of inconvenience. An extra five minutes before you can Tweet again or watch the rest of that YouTube video. But in business, five minutes without the internet could mean lost data, interruptions in the supply chain, missed orders, unhappy customers and so much more.
That’s why a productive, reliable business system needs to work as well offline as it does online.
The benefits of offline capabilities
Your business is reliable—even if your internet connection isn’t.
“Reliable” is one of the best words your customers can use to describe your business. If customers say you’re reliable, they’re saying you’re honest, trustworthy and capable. We strive for reliability in business, because reliable businesses keep customers coming back. But, as the saying goes, you’re only as strong as the weakest link.
Wifi is how most mobile devices send and receive information. But there are a lot of things that can interfere with, or even interrupt, a wifi signal:
- Wifi signals are sensitive to reflection, so reflective materials like glass and mirrors affect your signal
- Dense materials like metal, brick and concrete can interfere with, or even block, a wifi signal
- Extreme temperatures, especially extreme heat, can interfere with a Wifi signal
- Having too many devices connected to the same channel can slow down a signal (especially in a warehouse or on the shop floor, where many devices might have RFID chips operating at the same frequency)
If your workflows only work online, an unreliable internet connection can cause a domino effect. If the system doesn’t receive the data it needs in a certain step, it can mess up the entire workflow and stall everything until the internet comes back.
But if your workflows keep collecting data in offline mode, production can continue—and the required data can be uploaded to the system when the connection comes back.
Field service technicians can provide better, faster service.
Field service technicians used to record everything with paper and pen, carrying a clipboard with them wherever they went. Now, with tablets and mobile forms, you can make your field service business completely paperless—and cut down on data entry time, too.
But field service technicians work in various locations, from the middle of the city to the middle of nowhere. If they can only manage files, inspections, work orders, signatures and the rest when their tablet is connected to the internet, they’re not going to be able to do their jobs effectively.
Imagine if your field service app worked offline. Before travelling to the service location, the technician can download all the information they need for the work order. During the service call, they can record all the information the office needs for their systems. If there’s an internet connection: great. The information syncs automatically. If not, the information is stored and saved until the technician is connected to the internet again.
Offline capabilities allow field service technicians to provide reliable service without wasting time looking for an internet connection… or writing everything down on paper, then inputting it into the system later.
At remote locations, offline keeps things running.
In remote locations, where internet is scarce or nonexistent, things have to work offline. Internet isn’t reliable in the middle of the ocean, so using online-only apps is a recipe for disaster. If a modem or router dies, it can take days to get someone out to the site to fix the problem. You can’t afford to shut down production for that long.
But “offline” doesn’t have to mean “old tech.” There are still plenty of ways to update and modernize your processes with offline apps. The key is to equip your workers with devices that can store a lot of information. If they can download all the information they need before heading out to the location—and record everything on their device while at the location—they won’t need an internet connection while they’re on-site. No internet connection means the back office won’t have real-time data—but using an app instead of paper and pen means less time spent on data entry, less human error, and better data all around.
Offline customer cases
Glas Trösch is one of the leading producers of flat glass and glass processing in Europe.
“For us, an extensive offline-capability is key in our warehouses where the glass sheets disrupt any internet connection,” says Roland Lenz, IT lead at Glas Trösch. So Glas Trösch turned to Novacura Flow to help with the creation of an offline app. Read the full story here.
BW Offshore is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of floating production services to the oil and gas industry. Their vessels are spread across almost the entire globe, and often operate under extremely tough conditions. Novacura Flow has now made an appearance on board these vessels. As BW Offshore often says: If it works in BW Offshore, it works everywhere! Read the full story here.
A truly working offline app will:
- Store transactional and master data on users’ devices
- Seamlessly sync data that has been stored for a prolonged period
- Manage data syncing conflicts
And that’s what we’re working towards with Novacura Flow.
Maybe you haven’t even thought about a lost internet connection as a risk to your business. Maybe “lost internet connection” isn’t in your risk management plan. That’s okay, because it is in ours, and we’re working hard to make sure that Flow works for you, wherever business takes you.We’ll have more details about Flow’s offline functionalities with the release of Flow 6.7. Stay tuned!