Cloud storage, virtualized automation, and a little creative thinking were all it took for McKinley Equipment, a company that specializes in elevator and hydraulic lift installation and repair, to save its customers potentially hundreds of dollars a month.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) requires that wheelchair lifts in public buildings be tested weekly, with results recorded in an on-site logbook. McKinley installed lifts for a public school district and instructed the client how to go about testing. But, as Kevin Rusin, McKinley’s chief financial officer, put it Tuesday during “Maximize 2012,” those three-ring logbook binders have a way of going missing — particularly the ones attached to lifts in public high schools, where hundreds of teenagers ensure that things like that don’t stay put. Even more challenging: Ensuring that a school district tests every single wheelchair lift each week.

The penalties for failing to keep an up-to-date logbook are stiff — $495 for a missing book, and the same for an incomplete one. For cash-strapped school districts, those penalties add up fast.

A Leap Into the Cloud

Enter some out-of-the-box thinking: “Why does it have to be a three-ring binder?” Rusin remembers thinking. And what’s “on-site” really mean, anyway? McKinley arranged a meeting with state DOSH officials to inquire about the possibility of keeping a virtual, cloud-based logbook instead of the old-fashioned paper-and-pen version. “Isn’t the cloud on-site?” Rusin said.

Ultimately DOSH agreed with McKinley. When DOSH inspectors visited school buildings, they’d simply call up the building’s virtual wheelchair lift-testing record, and check against that — in effect eliminating any potential for missing-logbook fines.

The next step was finding a way to make sure the lifts actually got tested every week. Again, technology provided an answer. Using remote parts monitoring tools, McKinley set up a process by which a supervisor would receive a notification if an individual lift hadn’t been tested by its deadline. That supervisor, in turn, could then notify building maintenance staff that the test was past-due.

The school district has now essentially eliminated compliance fines, saving potentially thousands of dollars a year.

More: Elevator Field Techs Get Lift from Cloud-Automation Software.

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ABOUT Tiffany Kaiser

Avatar photoTiffany is a tech journalist turned full stack developer who's passionate about the design of a site, the code I write and the people I'm writing it for. I can OO JavaScript, style a sidebar and query a database while upholding that human element needed to communicate with team members and clients.