How to Inspect?

There are different ways of satisfying inspection requirements and they have evolved over time. Inspection methods include:
  • Pen and Paper
  • Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID)
  • Near-Field Communication (NFC)

The most basic form of inspection uses pen and paper; it’s also the most widely used method at the moment. Personnel go to each location with their paper form or check list and mark down that they have inspected the equipment and note any deficiencies. A manager collects all records of the inspection to review and verify that all areas have been inspected and notify the appropriate personnel of any deficiencies found through email or a work order system. This method of inspection can leave room for human error and requires storage/indexing. It is also time consuming to review all paperwork and manually send out deficiencies to the appropriate parties. 

Over time, technology has evolved to help automate the inspection process.
In the 1990s, a cylinder-shaped tool that uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology became available and gained popularity. Personnel would insert the cylinder into a puck affixed at each location on the inspection route to document that they visited the location. At the end of the inspection, the location results would be downloaded and available for viewing. Deficiencies identified would still need to be documented, reviewed and sent out manually.

More recently, technology has advanced to where any modern mobile device can be used to share information with other devices equipped with NFC.[1] It’s similar to RFID technology but the big difference is the space/distance requirements. To use NFC, the mobile phone must be within inches of the device. NFC equipped tags can be affixed to pieces of equipment or locations that require inspections and inspectors can tour around and inspect the items at the required intervals and frequency. Since NFC only works if the device is within inches of the equipment, managers can be reassured that the equipment was actually visited. This is something that pen and paper cannot offer. This technology also provides extra features such as check lists, the ability to add a note or photo, ability to report locations as requiring attention or service, and to see remaining inspections. Automated inspection reports also reduce the likelihood of human error and can send out deficiencies to the appropriate personnel automatically.

What you get out of inspections
Sometimes it’s difficult getting buy-in to complete inspections. They are time consuming and one could argue that the majority of the time, nothing bad happens. But there’s actually a lot in it for you and your organization in terms of inspections. Inspections provide a lot of benefits including:
  • Documented due diligence
  • Compliance to legislation, codes, by-laws etc.
  • Avoidance of fines
  • Defense against liability in the event an incident/accident occurs
  • Management of reputational risk and avoidance of negative media coverage
  • A safer workplace – less injuries and fatalities
  • Less accidents = better insurance premiums
  • Reduced loss time or work delays due to injury
  • Reduced costs associated with loss time or work delays due to equipment malfunction/breakdown
  • Asset protection
  • Proactive fixes before they become a huge problem – and a burden on the pocket book
  • Improved equipment reliability and optimization
  • Increased equipment and system efficiency
  • Peace of mind that everything is functioning correctly
  • Improved employee morale because issues are being identified and addressed

The type of inspection method used also provides a unique set of benefits. For example, newer solutions that leverage technology provide additional benefits such as:
  • Accurate and organized inspection records – satisfying record retention policies
  • Property dashboards and overviews
  • Automatic workflow and notification of deficiencies
  • Environmentally friendly solutions – less paper consumption (bonus: also saves money and storage space)
  • On the spot guidance for inspectors through customized check lists
  • Analytics
  • Ability to see trends
  • Staffing, budget and schedule forecasting capabilities 

So get out your trusty pro and con list. What makes more sense – doing inspections or not doing inspections? I think we can all agree that doing inspections has a lot more pros than cons! 


[1] Donovan, J. and Leary, K. (2016). It’s more than the wallet-killer: Everything you need to know about NFC. Retrieved from