Read the article in Asphalt Pro magazine
B2W Software’s ONE Platform connects the office, field and shop through a single operational database and its suite of applications for managing estimating, scheduling and dispatching, field tracking, equipment maintenance, e-forms and business insight workflows.
B2W Software’s ONE Platform contains five applications:
- B2W Estimate allows contractors to bid with centralized resource databases, templates and cost structures that can be used simultaneously by multiple estimators.
- B2W Schedule is a single online system for resource scheduling and dispatching that is also unified with job site and equipment maintenance workflows.
- B2W Track is a field tracking solution that enables contractors to record labor, productivity and equipment utilization via electronic field logs and analyze actual versus planned performance on a daily basis.
- B2W Maintain can be used to drive automated preventive maintenance, generate and process work orders, track warranties, manage parts and inventory, manage mechanic timecards/payroll, and consolidate historical data and equipment reporting.
- B2W Inform can be used to create electronic forms, enabling employees to access and fill out forms on any device, submit them immediately and generate reports.
How it Works
The ONE Platform’s latest update, announced in the fall of 2021, introduced new capabilities that enable contractors to identify equipment defects and make repairs quickly. It can now generate repair requests automatically based on data from electronic forms used for completing equipment inspections. The new process relays detailed information from equipment inspections to the maintenance team immediately.
B2W Marketing Communications Director Greg Norris reminded us, in years past, companies would note equipment in need of maintenance on paper forms.
“Because it was on paper, there was usually some lag time between when the problem arises and when it can be resolved,” Norris said. “With electronic forms, you can connect the inspection in the field with mechanics in the shop in real time. Because you aren’t waiting on that paper process, you can schedule maintenance quicker.”
The API connection for automating the creation and logging of repair requests relies on the ONE Platform’s B2W Inform and B2W Maintain applications. B2W Inform is designed to enable contractors to customize and manage electronic forms for any requirement, including equipment inspections. Form fields can be mapped to the format of equipment repair requests, which are managed in the B2W Maintain application. This connection allows inspection forms to trigger repair requests automatically in the maintenance software and for information from forms—including descriptions and photos—to flow directly to the requests.
“Asphalt paving is an equipment-intensive operation where it’s not uncommon for contractors to spend 10% of their revenue maintaining their fleet,” Norris said. “Using equipment maintenance software to shift to a preventive maintenance approach can cut that down to 5%.”
GW-EX Inc., an excavating company based in Ontario, Canada, is among the initial companies benefiting from this new workflow. The company has close to 100 pieces of equipment and generates more than 100 requests monthly for emergency and preventive maintenance. Jon Ewart, owner of GW-EX, said they faced efficiency, accountability and visibility challenges when repair requests were generated based on phone calls, text messages or paper forms submitted to the shop supervisor. Drivers or operators frequently claimed to have reported defects, while mechanics claimed they did not receive the information.
“Now, there is a record and history of the request being submitted and also investigated by our mechanics,” Ewart said. “We have also been able to prioritize work more effectively, so issues impacting safety and production take priority over less significant, cosmetic requests.”
Update & Integrate
Other improvements to B2W Inform include the mobile app’s functionality in offline and online modes, making it easy to fill out forms without an internet connection and submit later when a connection is available.
Other improvements to B2W Maintain include the ability to use telematics and GPS information to verify the location of equipment on work orders and the inclusion of maintenance codes with preventive maintenance intervals added automatically to work orders for better structuring, tracking, and activity reporting.
The other three applications have also been updated with new features.
B2W has improved the underlying architecture of B2W Estimate to increase speed and performance, while enhancing change order management capabilities so contractors can create, manage and track change orders within an original base bid; cost and price change orders far more efficiently and accurately; and provide visibility to the total project cost and resource requirements.
B2W Schedule has enhanced geofencing capabilities to provide better accuracy and validation of where individual pieces of equipment are at a job site, built-in capabilities for schedulers/dispatchers to email or text employees or drivers to notify them when an assignment has been created or changed, and new material order management capabilities to allow management of materials used on a job or sold to outside customers, review of those orders by source location, and reporting on forecasted demand.
B2W Track now allows multiple project managers to access field logs and reporting for a single job, with security settings for restricting which project managers can view certain information, as well as several user-interface improvements to the daily electronic field log to make it faster and easier to create logs, enter performance data and access reports.
Norris said what sets the ONE Platform apart from other software approaches is the integration of its various applications under one platform. “The key concept behind our platform approach is the integration between different workflows,” Norris said. “All the elements are designed to work together, versus bits and pieces from different companies being bolted together.”
Examples of other integrations include automatically pushing data from B2W Estimate into B2W Track, “so the crew can build the project like it was bid without discrepancies between the way the estimator assumed it would be done and the way the supervisor does it,” Norris said.
Another is electronic communication from B2W Track automatically going into B2W Maintain, allowing foremen in the field who notice defects outside of the inspection process to automatically make a repair request from the field. Or, integration between B2W Schedule and B2W Maintain so the maintenance crew can schedule repairs for periods when machinery is not in use, and the dispatcher is aware of when machinery will be out for repair.
The next big addition to the ONE Platform is the launch of a new application, the B2W Employee App, which offers individual time and performance tracking. “We have B2W Track, which is geared more toward tracking crews,” Norris said. “But, our customers often find it challenging to track the hours of individual employees working independently, like a grader operator or a truck driver. That’s why we decided to develop an app that individual employees can use to log their hours and performance that integrates with the company’s field logs.”