How Apps Help One Retailer Maintain Sites

Linking databases keeps Cumberland Farms up to date on equipment
Photograph: Shutterstock

ATLANTA — Developing a system of interconnected mobile apps has helped Tom Sansoucy keep stores cool in the summer and pump upgrades on track.

At an education session during the 2019 NACS Show in Atlanta, Sansoucy, senior manager of facilities support for Framingham, Mass.-based Cumberland Farms, said giving his staff mobile access to equipment maintenance history and repair manuals has helped in his goal of achieving 100% uptime.

Prior to developing a technology solution, Sansoucy had to rely on paper manuals, records that existed in digital islands within his company or in people’s personal recollections.

But developing that solution took time. One of his initial challenges was “sending the right guy with the right part” to the stores. In other words, he had to make sure he sent the person trained to do the repair and that he or she had the tools to do the job.

Getting the right software and apps proved to be a task, Sansoucy said. For instance, an application suited to track outside vendors would not work for dispatching the company's own technicians. Typically, a vendor-specific solution is formatted to dispatch a single vendor to complete a single job. In-house technicians may need to go to multiple sites over an extended period of time.

Another challenge was maintaining the knowledge that in-field personnel accrue over time. Their knowledge about installing or repairing a specific device would exist primarily in that person’s head.

Today, staff type in digital notes so insights into specific pieces of equipment, as well as maintenance records and vendor histories, are all accessible through a series of interconnected mobile apps. The software uses application program interfaces (APIs) to draw the data from different sources within the company so that in-field personnel can access the information.

Sansoucy described the overall database as “active,” with his staff and vendors continuously updating it. “It’s about [having] the right software to collect resident knowledge, equipment-specific data and supportive content,” he said.

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