An experienced provider of instrumentation and electrical support services, Lone Star Instrumentation & Electric Corporation serves the oil, gas, petrochemical, and mining industries across Texas and New Mexico. The organization has a passion for exceptional service, professionalism, and strong business partnerships. Lone Star takes pride in the quality of workmanship, safety, integrity, and on-time service delivery at a reasonable price.
Lone Star saves its customers time, headaches, and large sums of money. For instance, if an oil pump jack breaks, all profits are lost from that jack while it is out of service — so time is of the essence. Lone Star field service personnel maintain and repair oil pump jacks and similar equipment on a regular basis.
Until recently, managing work orders, recording time worked on each job, and invoicing clients were labor-intensive chores that took weeks to complete. The company was always behind on these administrative tasks due to manual processes, and maintaining accuracy was difficult.
“We needed a better way to handle the amount of worksheets coming in from the field every day,” said Ronnie Hobbs, President & CEO of Lone Star. “Someone might use a numbered worksheet in the field for a notepad. When we were missing a work order number, was it somebody’s scratchpad or a $10,000 order?” It took three to four days to enter the handwritten worksheets into a database and verify how many hours an individual had worked on each job. “Then the billing department would re-enter all of it, plus add the descriptions. It was just a whole lot of manual entry,” Hobbs said. “We were probably four to five weeks behind getting invoices entered manually. Our business is doing about $700,000 a week. When you’re four weeks behind, you’re looking at $2.8 million behind in invoicing. It was big for us.”
“Someone might use a numbered worksheet in the field for a notepad. When we were missing a work order number, was it somebody’s scratchpad or a $10,000 order?”
The situation also took a toll on the morale of many Lone Star employees, particularly in field services. In addition to completing work orders, employees needed to record all the information related to each job. That meant writing down the date, job number, location, client’s company name, the trucks and materials used, the number of hours worked, and the names of everyone on the job every day. Some chose not to fill out worksheets at all. Lone Star sought an automated solution to address the time-consuming, frustrating and error-prone nature of processing work orders and invoices manually.
Lone Star implemented Apptricity Work Order. Built on the Apptricity Jetstream technology platform, this comprehensive solution provides start-to-finish control of work order processing. The system tracks labor hours and work orders while assigning fees to the appropriate accounts. Apptricity integrated the system with Lone Star’s accounting software so the company could generate invoices.
Delighted to use tablets, field services personnel quickly made the shift to mobile data entry. A worker enters a job number, and fields are automatically prepopulated with the job name, customer address, and so on. Legibility is no longer a problem.
“Once data came into the office, the headaches were gone,” Hobbs stated. “It’s helped not only the morale in the office because we’re no longer swamped, but also the morale of the guys who were writing so much repetitive information.” Field personnel can copy and save a job template with repetitive job details, then use it when performing the same work in a new location. “There are a lot of shortcuts to help the guys in the field, make things quicker and easier, and keep them from not wanting to do their job,” said Hobbs. “We’ve heard nothing but good things from them. That means a lot because if they’re not happy, nobody’s happy.”
“It’s helped not only the morale in the office because we’re no longer swamped, but also the morale of the guys who were writing so much repetitive information.”
A Web-based console accessible by Lone Star’s four offices includes security measures so finished work orders cannot be altered. Data entry occurs once, directly from the field. A worksheet summary indicates the number of work orders in process. Once complete, they are converted into invoices. “Timesheets and invoices are completed almost simultaneously. It saves a lot of steps,” Hobbs said.