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Sparta’s iPad App Makes it Easier to Share Design and Repair Needs
SPARTA ENGINEERING’s customers use DesignShare – a digital image annotation application for iPad. This app helps customers in the field document and share equipment designs, repair needs and inspection details. The app sends annotated digital images to Sparta for review and facilitates smoother communication between the customer or field operator and the engineer.
Engineers have a somewhat notorious reputation for being poor communicators. A quick Google search usually nets a famous picture about the development cycle of a tree swing and how an engineer fits into this humorous joke. I think this view comes from a generalization about a few engineers that have terrible interpersonal skills. I can tell you first hand (as I struggle to write this) that engineers are somewhat programmed to communicate like a lab report.
What most people don’t realize is that an engineer’s main job is to communicate. This is especially true for the design engineers at Sparta Engineering who have to collect data from a customer and turn that data into instructions on how to build a product.
Often we are approached by customers who aren’t sure what the root problem is and we must start a delicate dance of asking the right questions and ignoring the noise. We must figure out the best solution to the right problem.
To further complicate communication channels, our customer base is highly mobile and located around the globe. This leaves us with language barriers and customers who are not able to show us their napkin drawings or walk us through their problems in person. To try and address some of these challenges, we partnered with College Mobile and developed “DesignShare” – an ipad app to help our customers communicate with Sparta Engineering.
DesignShare was created for our customers to use as a direct communication tool to Sparta Engineering.
- Snap a photo or upload an existing photo of a product or piece of equipment
- Annotate the photo with lines, circles, and text
- Take additional photos from different angles and then group them in one project
- Send the annotated photos to Sparta Engineering
DesignShare has streamlined a lot of our communication with our field-based customers who no longer have to try and verbally explain what they are looking at (or take a picture and then explain what they want to do). Both a picture and annotations can be completed in one place.
DesignShare has proven particularly useful when someone asks us to produce a repair procedure for something that gets damaged in the field. For example, if a customer has damaged a lifting lug out in the field, they can easily take a picture of the damaged lug and explain what they want to do visually in the app. Sparta will receive this data and help develop a repair procedure without a lot of back and forth between the engineer and customer. The information is delivered concisely and efficiently. It is common in our industry to require a multi-stage inspection procedure especially on critical welds. The customer might have to get an inspection after gouging the damaged part off as well as after completing the repair procedure.
Sparta Engineering’s DesignShare App can help document and record these inspections and communicate them back to the engineer at Sparta who needs to oversee the repair.
DesignShare lets the users organize the pictures by project so that multiple sets of communication on the same project can be saved together. This works great for keeping everything organized for future reference.
If you are after a streamlined way of communicating with Sparta then please try DesignShare and let us know what you think.
This application was developed in partnership with a great Canadian mobile software company College Mobile. If you would like to try the app for yourself it is available in the iPad application store.