Motor and generator service company develops custom apps, unifying processes and enhancing customer experience
Integrated Power Services—IPS—is an industry leader in electric motor upkeep and engineering for continuous-process, asset-intensive industries. It provides end-to-end service for electric motors and generators, including repair, field maintenance, and sales. IPS specializes in servicing motors and parts for generating nuclear, wind, hydro, and fossil power, in addition to servicing machinery used in oil and gas, chemical, metals, industrial gas, mining, and paper production. Leveraging a new line-of-business solution built on Microsoft PowerApps and developed by Confluent—a trusted Microsoft partner—IPS reimagined its previous data collection, work logging, and report generation processes. This redesign of how IPS operates resulted in increased efficiency and productivity, more visibility, higher customer satisfaction, standardization across locations, and a ten-year competitive advantage in its industry.
A $230 million, 1,000 employee industry leader with more than 20 facilities across North America, IPS is the largest providers of electric motor repair, engineering, and maintenance in North America. IPS’s diverse customer base is spread across the United States and Canada and differs across organization size, as well as industry—ranging from wind power to oil and gas.
From initial receiving to final shipping, repairing customer equipment is a lengthy, multi-stage process with a lot of moving parts. At a glance, the process entails inspecting and disassembling customer equipment, quoting the customer on equipment service, performing repairs or maintenance (sometimes parts are in three different locations at one time), reassembling repaired equipment; performing a final test, and shipping the equipment back to the customer. With all of these work stages, different repair facilities, multiple items to track, and disparate paper forms, manual processes simply won’t work.
This antiquated process was exactly what IPS was using. While IPS did utilize an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, it only tracked materials and labor. At the end of every repair service engagement, a customer report needs to be generated. These reports are the result of many data points that are collected throughout the repair process. The method for collecting these data points was paper forms. This approach was inefficient, the forms varied by motor type, and someone at IPS would have to manually enter the information into a central system, which could take anywhere between a few days to several weeks. Additionally, the forms IPS used to inform the final customer report were optimized for customer readability, not for internal IPS usability.
In an effort to provide customers with accurate reporting, streamline operations, improve tracking accuracy, minimize waste, and eliminate tedious paper processes, IPS decided to reimagine the way it worked by digitizing and unifying their paper forms by building a custom solution that would solve for these challenges. IPS then turned to trusted Microsoft partner, Confluent, to help it get the job done.
Confluent is a professional IT services provider and helped IPS design, build, and implement their custom application. According to IPS, Confluent isn’t just a partner, they are part of the team because they understand both motor repair and programming.
After being led by their trusted partner, Confluent, IPS chose Microsoft PowerApps to build its custom solution. IPS first reformatted and digitized the many different forms according to how best to work, rather than for customer readability. In just six months, IPS and Confluent built a solution on PowerApps that created an electronic process that is independent of its ERP system, doesn’t use paper forms, and works no matter what language their data is in (SAP, Oracle, etc.). Currently, IPS is using its PowerApps solution at three of its facilities, with plans to incorporate it in all of its offices within one year.
While it only took six months to implement the PowerApps solution in one of IPS’ shops, the process is ongoing, iterative, and is constant in refinement. The volume of IPS’ business, combined with the technical and asset-heavy nature of machine repair, required further innovation. Because the solution needs augmenting and fine-tuning to meet evolving business requirements, Confluent remains committed to helping IPS achieve its vision for how PowerApps can revolutionize the way they do business.
Already, end users of the PowerApps solution have resolved some common challenges, such as the issue IPS was having scaling photo aspect ratios for tablets—a step in IPS’ repair process is photographing and cataloguing machine and motor parts being repaired. IPS also struggled with locating motors and parts at any given time because they could be in one of three departments—repair, winding, or machining. Going through a third party cloud for information proved difficult when trying to route or determine the status of a repair job. With PowerApps and Azure, IPS can better track where everything is and get meaningful insight almost instantly.
The custom solution on PowerApps is moving IPS forward in its approach to the repair, reporting, and delivery processes. With PowerApps, IPS is realizing business benefits such as streamlined operations, a cohesive solution, more satisfied customers, and unified experiences across its 20+ locations.
Increased Productivity and Efficiency
According to IPS’s VP of IT and Purchasing, Scott Melzer, IPS has seen an estimated 15% uptick in productivity since implementing the PowerApps solution. Part of the job at IPS is to take a lot of photos of motors in various states of repair, upload them, and categorize them. This was a very time-intensive process. PowerApps automates the process and catalogues photos immediately after the tablet captures the image.
Under the old system, one of IPS’s biggest weaknesses was standardization across all of their locations. PowerApps helps with this standardization effort by enabling overall consistency in processes, producing the same reports, titling forms similarly, and offering customers a similar experience, regardless of which facility they visit. While still in development, IPS has a dream of offering their customers an application—built on PowerApps—that allows them to see exactly where IPS is in the repair process.
Unified Experience and Sterling Support
Oftentimes, once data is collected and entered, it must be edited. This process once had to be done on a tablet, which proved to be inefficient and tedious. With the custom solution on PowerApps, supervisors can alter data on a desktop, making it easy to edit and generate final reports. While there are still some issues such as SQL integration, the solution is being improved every day. IPS likes the PowerApps solution because of the good UI, unified experiences, and the ability to run the app on phone, tablets, or desktops. With the increased standardization, unification, and “amazing support from Microsoft”, IPS feels like they have a 10-year competitive edge because of the PowerApps solution.