Reftab’s Summer 2023 Release Notes

Release notes image

Reftab is excited to announce one of our biggest updates yet! We’ve heard a lot of feedback from you and after many emails, tickets and Zoom calls, we’re incredibly happy to announce that approval flows are now available!

Approval Flows

How-to guide: Start creating approval flows today with our guide:  Reftab guide to approval flows

In one of our biggest updates yet, Approval Flows bring you an easy and automated way to route requests for equipment to managers, department heads, safety coordinators, etc. in a simple way.

For example, if a user wants a specific software license that  requires approval from IT or their manager before being purchased or installed, or employees or contractors need safety training before using specific tools, you can send an email to an “Approver” for them to review.

The “Approver” can approve or reject directly from within the body of the email. This is incredibly important because by using email – a system everyone is used to, and uses all day, approvers can review and approve requests without  needing to login to any new system. It can be adopted by every department and any user with minimal effort.

This is our first iteration of approval flows. We plan to issue updates and enhancements in the coming months. We really want to hear from as many as you as possible about how approval flows can solve your business challenges.

VideoClick to view video on YouTube

New Integrations: Meraki and Jamf School

For users on the Business plan, you can now configure a connection to sync assets from Cisco Meraki, which is a cloud controlled, wifi, routing and security system for enterprise networks. This integration is great because if you have WiFi access points or other networking equipment across various locations, this integration automatically adds those devices into Reftab. By doing so, you’ll have even more ways to automate data into Reftab for reporting, automated alerts, maintenance etc.

How-to guide:  Reftab Meraki integration guide

You also can sync devices from Jamf School. Jamf Schools works in the same way as our existing Jamf integration works, however Jamf school is specifically for education institutions.

How-to guide: Reftab Jamf School integration guide

Gantt Charts

Reftab now offers Gantt charts to users on all plans. Gantt charts give you a great visualization of items in a list and can compare events easily to better understand usage and scheduling.

To view your Gantt chart, anywhere you see the calendar page, you can click “Gantt” and the gantt chart will display.

Updates to Users / Loanees

1) ICS Calendar Feed: For each loanee / user in Reftab you can now generate an ICS calendar feed. This creates a link that you can paste into your local Outlook calendar or GMail calendar so that when an item is reserved for a user, that event will be automatically sent to your calendar. By setting this up, you wont need to login to Reftab to view these events.

Edit any user and enable “ICS Reservation Link

Then, click “Save“. A link will display for you to copy and use within Outlook, Mac Calendar, GMail, etc.

2) Dynamic Manager Field: This allows you to link a user to another user to establish a ‘manager’ or ‘supervisor’. See our how-to guide: ​Guide to configuring manager field in Reftab​​​

The benefits of setting up a managerial custom field is because they can be used in Workflows and Approvals.  For example, sending an overdue email to a manager or routing approval steps to a manager or safety supervisor.

3) SCIM Custom Field Mapping: You can now sync custom user fields from your IdP such as Azure, okta, JumpCloud etc. Prior to this update you could only sync a name, title, email address and employee number. We recognized that was very limiting, especially with the need for detailed reporting and workflows. To map these fields click “Settings” > “Integrations” > “SCIM UserProvisioning” and you’ll see,”Optional Custom Fields

New YouTube Video:

Check out our new feature highlight video on Reftab’s e-signature functionality. Please share, like comment and let us know what you think!YouTube Video: Reftab’s E-Signature Functionality

Reftab’s Spring 2023 Release Notes

Release notes image

Hello everyone, thanks for taking the time to read Reftab’s latest release notes. We’ve been working hard and are excited to introduce new features and updates!

New Feature

Equipment Requests – Available on the Business Plan, equipment requests allow users to submit general requests for equipment. For example, if a student wants a camera or an employee wants a monitor or someone needs a group of tools for a job site, they can request these items at the category level. Prior to this update, users needed to search and find specific equipment to reserve.

We heard that this created situations where certain equipment was being reserved more than others, or it was too cumbersome for some users to find equipment in the portal, or equipment was available but the user didn’t know it.

This update greatly eases the process for the end user because now they can simply enter a quantity of what they want and when it’s needed by.

Administrators can then approve or deny (which include email notices). If approved, the Reftab admin can select the specific items from stock and fulfill the request through a reservation or check out.

There are two ways to submit a request:

  • Public Request Pages: You can create a public page, share the URL with anyone you want and anyone with access can submit a request. You can customize these pages and create an unlimited amount of public pages.
  • Requesting Equipment from the User Portal: The alternative to public request pages, is allowing users to request equipment from the user portal. If a user clicks on a category that has no assets in it, they will see a notice saying “Click Here to Request Equipment”. 

Approval Workflows

Equipment requests are currently in phase one. The Reftab team is now working on building approval workflows. 

Approvals will allow you to set a procedure that places requests in rounds of approvals before an item is purchased or given to someone. (At this time, we don’t have an accurate estimate on when approvals will be released but we will keep everyone updated.)

We want to hear from you! Please reply to this email (or email ‘[email protected]‘) for any feedback and suggestions on equipment requests / approvals.

See FAQ Here: https://www.reftab.com/blog/faq/equipment-requests-overview/

PDF Generated Forms for Custody Verification and Asset Check Outs

Reftab can now automatically generate PDF files containing loan signatures and agreement text.

These PDFs can generate when an asset is checked out and a signature is required and/or when a custody verification form is submitted.

This is a major update that allows administrators to establish better compliance with company equipment agreements because it completely automates the process of capturing, formatting and saving employee agreements. This is important because these agreements may outline acceptable use policies and other types of agreements between an organization and a user.

Prior to this update, a signature was still saved to the system but there was no downloadable, tangible connection between a signature from a user, and the agreement.

See FAQ Herehttps://www.reftab.com/blog/faq/verify-custody-of-assets/#verification-signature

New Integration: Lansweeper

Reftab now offers an integration with Lansweeper. If you’re not familiar with Lansweeper it is a network discovery tool used by IT departments to discover what’s connected to a corporate network.

The integration we provide takes devices found from Lansweeper and adds them into Reftab.

Let us know if any questions and we’ll be happy to help. If you’re an existing Lansweeper user and want to participate in a case study, please reach out!

Updates to integrations: Intune / Jamf / Mosyle / Kandji

Reftab’s MDM integrations now map to assets in Reftab via serial number in conjunction with the respective unique identifies (Azure AD Device ID, jamfid, etc…)

This is a major update because prior to this, if a laptop was wiped and re-enrolled, a new unique identifier was created and thus when synced to Reftab, a new asset was created. However, with this update Reftab now looks for an existing serial number and if found, maps to that asset instead of creating a new asset. This is a major time-saver and ensure data stays organized across systems.

Consumables Can Now be Reserved

You can now reserve consumables. Prior to this update, consumables could only have transactions done to them and there was no way for users to reserve them. This update now expands the use case of consumables and can ultimately meet more needs of your business use-cases and requirements. Also note, consumables now display in the user portal as well.

Multi-Tenancy Update: Reporting Across Tenants

Reporting across tenants is now possible. If you’re a Reftab user with multi-tenancy setup, it is now possible to run a report to pull assets across all tenants.

To do this, log into your main tenant and go to the Reports page. Setup a new assets report and you’ll see a checkbox “Report across all tenants”. If that is checked, the report will return assets from all tenants.

Update to Windows Agent

The Reftab installable agent for Windows has been updated so that you can supply an asset ID during installation. Prior to this update, the agent would install and generate an asset ID from the guid.

Thank You!

Thank you for your continued support! As we always say, we build our platform based upon feedback we hear. So please do let us know any suggestions and keep us informed on how Reftab can further meet your needs. 

Thank you and have an enjoyable summer!

How to tag Work From Home Assets | Best Practices

One of the largest problems our client’s face when transitioning to Reftab is how to tag assets. Placing barcodes on each individual asset can seem like a daunting task, this post should help alleviate some of those stressors. Our goal is to outline a process in order to tag all of your assets, without creating more work for everyone involved.

Why?

One of the main reasons to tag all of your assets is to streamline checking in / checking out your assets. Reftab includes a mobile app that acts as a barcode scanner. If all assets have a barcode it is as simple as taking out your phone, scanning the tag, and assigning the asset to the correct individual.

On top of that, a proper asset tag should include your company’s logo and some information on that asset. When sending assets to an employee’s home they may forget these assets actually belong to the company. If you can include a proper asset tag, it can act as a simple reminder that this asset will need to be returned at some point in time. We have found this leads to your employees taking much better care of these assets.

Here’s an example asset tag:

This tag should be printed on a sturdy label. A good choice for a laptop or other IT equipment would be a Tamper Evident Tag. These tamper evident tags leave a checkerboard on the asset when removed. If you are in need of something a little stronger, you can always go with a Destructible Asset Tag. Destructible tags work best in schools and universities but any company may want to implement them as well. These tags begin to break apart when removed. This makes it extremely difficult to remove the tag altogether.

How?

First things first, you DO NOT need to run around and tag all of your assets tomorrow. This is a massive task that needs to happen over time. At this point we are changing your company’s landscape, none of these changes happen overnight. The best way to start here is with a process for all new assets. 

New Asset Tagging Process

  1. New Asset is received
  2. Asset is added into Reftab
  3. Asset Tag is placed accordingly
  4. Asset is then shipped to employee

When a new asset comes in, it should first go to one of your managers, or someone that can be trusted to place the asset tag in the proper place. Once the tag is fixed and the asset is placed into Reftab in can then be mailed to your new employee.

Existing Asset Tagging Process

  1. Employee arrives to the office with existing assets
  2. Asset is handed to Designated Tagging Manager
  3. Using the Serial Number the Asset is found within Reftab
  4. Tag is then placed on the Asset
  5. Employee received asset with proper tag

The next step is to focus on all previous assets. Most companies have at least one day per year when employees will come into the office. This will be your designated “Asset Tagging Day.” If using Avery sheets, I recommend having all tags printed beforehand. As your employees come into the office, they will report to a designated manager for tagging. Using Reftab’s keyword search you are able to search for Serial Number of an asset. Ensure the Reftab Asset ID matches the Serial Number, and place the corresponding tag on that asset.

Truthfully, if your employees never come into the office, it causes extreme difficulties of tagging assets. The only process we have seen when it comes to this is to mail the tags to each individual. One benefit of this is the simple reminder that an employee has an asset that belongs to their employer. I don’t recommend this process as it creates a large workload for everyone involved. The risks outweigh the benefits for us. If this is the case for your company, I recommend implementing the process for all new assets. Over time all of your assets will have tags and all new employees will know who the asset actually belongs to.

Conclusion

Reftab will work perfectly fine without asset tags. However, placing asset tags does streamline processes when physically dealing with each asset. If you are working from home, you won’t need to tag every asset until you see it. There is no benefit in that regard. If you can input a process that will ensure all assets are tagged within the next 2 years, we believe this will absolutely suffice. If you have any questions about tagging assets or need help instituting a proper process, please reach out to [email protected] our Support Team is always happy to help!

A Detailed Guide to Building an AV Equipment Checkout System

Whether you are a school, church, or creative agency, there is a good chance you own a lot of equipment and multiple people have access to it.

Streamlining the process for keeping track of all your equipment (including when people are checking in and out gear is essential) .

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about building an equipment checkout system for your company.  

Why do you need an equipment checkout system?

There are multiple benefits to having a system to keep track of rental equipment, whether that’s through manual spreadsheets or asset management software, like Reftab. But, the two primary reasons to consider implementing a system for your business are: 

  • Increased accountability: With a documented process for checking equipment in and out, this ensures that people will return gear on time. 
  • Improves accuracy and tracking: When you track equipment through a system, you can tell exactly where your company’s gear is at any time. This is particularly useful if you have a lot of employees or equipment to maintain.

How to build your equipment checkout system 

Building an effective equipment checkout system comes down to making sure all of the right components are in place. 

What assets should you keep track of?

Everything from the smallest memory card to the largest projector should be tracked in your system. Think of it like taking inventory. Take note of all of your gear when you set up your system and be sure to tag new equipment as you acquire it.

Here are some examples of assets that can be tracked through a checkout system:

  • Cameras
  • Camcorders
  • Microphones
  • Lighting
  • Tripods
  • Rigs
  • Memory cards
  • Batteries
  • Displays
  • Screens
  • Transmitters
  • Receivers
  • Switchers
  • Mixers
  • Cases

Build check-in and check-out equipment processes

The two most common approaches to managing this process are manually using Google Forms and spreadsheets or by creating a user request portal using asset management software, like Reftab. 

A manual system can be a cost-effective solution, but it may require more work—both upfront and managing it. 

On the other hand, if you have thousands of pieces of equipment to keep track of and are loaning it to a lot of employees, students, etc, it might make sense to use asset management software instead. In addition to keeping track of all of your gear, most asset management software also includes functionality like creating custom reports, sending automated emails and alerts, and automated user partitioning. 

Pro Tip: Read this post on how to choose the right asset management software for your specific needs. 

Establish communication processes 

A vital part of a good equipment checkout system is communicating when equipment can be checked in and out. Whether you do this manually or use software to automate this, here are the bare minimum notifications you should send out by email and/or text. 

  • When an equipment reservation is made. 
  • When an equipment reservation is confirmed (if not automatic) 
  • When equipment is due back
    When equipment is overdue 

Keep equipment maintenance logs

You already know the importance of maintaining your A/V gear to extend its life cycle. However, implementing a preventative maintenance schedule is easier said than done. And writing maintenance work orders and keeping detailed maintenance logs can be just as important as the maintenance itself. Without tracking which equipment received repairs or maintenance, your gear might get too little or not enough attention.

Pro Tip: See how easy it is to keep track of maintenance work orders and schedule maintenance in Reftab. 

For example, let’s say that you check all of your equipment monthly to ensure it’s working properly. Without tracking which gear was checked and when, a piece of equipment might be missed for months. You wouldn’t know that something is broken and when the next person checks it out you have to send a maintenance team member out to fix it on their shoot. This wastes time and can affect the output of the production.

*** 

Whatever system you use for your equipment checkout, the tips above will help you make it a success. Remember to train all of your staff on the new system. 
Ready to give Reftab a try? Sign up for a free account here.

How to Handle Rental Equipment Cleaning and Maintenance

When renting cameras and equipment how are you able to ensure they are always performing at their peak? There are multiple steps that need to be taken every single time a camera leaves your inventory. The biggest issue we’ve seen is being sure every employee handles the cleaning and maintenance the same way. In this post we are going to cover how we’ve solved this problem.

The Problem

Last week, in was speaking with one of our clients we found a common problem they were facing. This specific client handles loaning camera equipment to Loanees within their organization. The problem they were looking to solve involved a specific process when these cameras were returned. They had a specific step by step check that needed to be completed.

  1. Check that the camera turns on
  2. Clean Camera
  3. Check Lens Cap
  4. Attach Lens Cap

Once this check is completed, the camera can then be placed back into the inventory and is ready for loan. The issue came up that not all employees were completing this check. The solution we came to was to implement Reftab’s Automated Workflows with our Maintenance Feature.

The Solution

Our Automated Workflows allow you to automatically handle certain actions within Reftab. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to implement this feature. The first step to this was to prevent this asset from being checked out if it wasn’t inspected. To do this we created a status label of “Inspection Required.” If the status label “Inspection Required” is applied you are unable to loan the asset.

After the status label was created, we created a Maintenance Form of “General Cleaning.” This form included the 4 steps above along with an electronic signature field. I felt we were ready to test this functionality so I scheduled a zoom call and we built a workflow together.

The workflow is going to be triggered each time an asset is returned. However, since Digital Cameras aren’t the only assets being returned and this form is specifically for Digital Cameras, we needed a condition. The condition we included was to check the Asset Category, this would allow us to only apply the status label and maintenance form IF a Digital Camera is returned.

Implementation

This particular client has implemented the workflow and is working towards perfecting the process. We’ll work to keep our blog followers updated with this story. If you have a similar story we’d love to hear from you! Feel free to email [email protected] with your story and we’ll feature you and your business in one of our upcoming posts.

As always, if you have a specific process that you need worked through, please email [email protected] with your needs. We’ll sit down with you personally and build a specific workflow that will benefit your business. As a business, Reftab would be nothing without your support, in return we are here to support you. Don’t hesitate to reach out, we are always happy to help!

How to keep track of your church production equipment

A live broadcast can help your church service enter the homes of thousands of congregation members both near and far.

However, the sheer amount of equipment and systems necessary for producing large-scale worship services on streaming platforms, like Facebook Live, Youtube, and Twitch, on a regular basis can be daunting.

From how to best manage all of your equipment to reservations and maintenance, here is a church production equipment checklist to meet your congregation’s needs.

Keeping track of all of the gear that you need

Regardless of whether your church is mostly doing pre-recorded video, think podcasts and sermon videos, or you host full-scale livestreams every Sunday to a rapidly expanding online audience, there’s a fair amount of equipment required. 

Though the specifics may vary depending on your church video setup, here are the items that you most likely have on hand: 

  • Lighting: Individual stage lights as well as a lighting board (console) and dimmer pack to enable audio-visual (AV) teams to control multiple light fixtures simultaneously.
  • Video Projector: Minimum of one large-scale screen skirt, projection surface, and projector device to display relevant passages or lyrics to viewers.
  • Video Cameras: Minimum of one fancy video camera to film the pastor along with optional cameras placed throughout the venue to film a live congregation or choir.
  • Tripods or Monitor Stands: One tripod or monitor stand per video camera and projector to eliminate shakiness in picture quality.
  • Microphones: From headset microphones to wireless microphones, there are a lot of different styles of microphones. There is a good chance you’ll need at least two to capture sufficient audio.  
  • Speakers: Wedge or power speakers for congregation members gathered on stage, subwoofers for those in the venue, and in-ear monitors for the pastor.
  • Soundboard and Mixers: A digital sound mixer to mix the input from various microphones, instruments, and pre-recorded tracks.
  • A/V Accessories: Encoding device to convert video input into a digital format for playback on multiple devices, velcro cable ties, and various cases for gear.
  • Video Editing Gear: Desktop or laptop computer, additional harddrive for storage, and applicable software for editing.
  • Power Cables and Cords: Extension cords, a cable snake or cable wrap to control all cords, and a power strip or power conditioner to protect gear in the event of a power surge.
  • Batteries: Various battery types depending on equipment needs, such as 12V N batteries for cameras.

Pro Tip: Be sure to also consider the acoustic and visual limitations of your church to construct the best live production.

Setting up equipment management processes

Livestream equipment isn’t cheap. So, you want to make sure you have the right systems and processes so that you always know where your gear is.

How to handle reservations

With a better understanding of the gear you’ll need for a livestream, you can take the first steps to simplifying the equipment reservation process. 

We recommend creating a user request portal so that you can keep tabs on who has what equipment and where your gear is all the time. 

If you are a smaller church, you may be able to DIY this with a Google Form or spreadsheet. However, if you have a lot of equipment and/or people, you may want to switch to asset management software, where you can set up a more robust user request portal. 

No matter which format you use, be sure to include elements like:

  • Who is checking the equipment in or out? 
  • When do they need it? 
  • What equipment are they taking? 
  • How long are they taking it for? (i.e. duration) 
  • When is the equipment due back? 

In addition, if you use a spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel, you can simply add another column to indicate when the equipment should be checked in and when it was actually retrieved. 

However, if a lot of people have edit access to your check in / check out spreadsheet, this can become problematic as it is easy for things to not get updated in a timely manner or for rows to get deleted by mistake. 

That’s another reason why you should invest in asset management software. You don’t have to worry about things falling through the cracks since you’ll have a custom asset / equipment list along with a clear check-in and out process.

Communication and reminders

Another reason to use a custom user request portal over spreadsheets is that you can automate reminders and alerts. For instance, you can send a reminder email or text when equipment is due back along with overdue reminders. 


This streamlines communication, establishes better record-keeping, and makes it less likely for equipment to go missing.

Maintenance

The more often your equipment is used, the more likely something will break.

While urgent maintenance or broken equipment is something that no church wants to deal with, every one will at some point. You can keep track of maintenance and out-of-service equipment with spreadsheets, this is time-consuming and can lead to more human errors.

With asset management software, you can see a maintenance log, issue work orders, schedule preventative maintenance (to reduce the chance of equipment breaking at an unfortunate time!) and set up automated triggers.

Simplify your church productions with the proper software

When it is time to hit record, simplify the process with asset management software. Asset management software allows you to keep tabs on all of your equipment along with setting up processes for handling reservations, reminders, and maintenance.

Ready to give Reftab a try? Sign up for a free account here.

How to Implement a Preventive Maintenance Program

A preventive maintenance program is key to ensuring all equipment is operating at full capacity. Your equipment’s manufacturer outlines specific tasks in order to maintain their individual piece of equipment. The hard part to this is actually completing the required maintenance on time.

You may have a dedicated spreadsheet dedicated to maintenance, a clipboard attached to the asset or even a program to help with this maintenance. All of these are completely acceptable ways to achieve the same result. No matter how you look to implement your program we have outlined an 8 step process to achieve this.

  1. Choose a Test Asset
  2. Create a Baseline
  3. Gather Data
  4. Manage Spares, Consumables and Tools
  5. Implement a Maintenance Management Program
  6. Maintenance Schedules
  7. Monitor and Adjust Program
  8. Recreate this Program for All Assets

Step 1 – Choose a Test Asset

In our experience, creating a maintenance program for one asset is much safer than trying to reinvent the wheel for your entire floor at one time. There will be bumps in the road as this process does take time to get exactly right. However, if you can perfect a program with one asset, you will very easily be able to duplicate this process ten, twenty even one hundred times over.

In order to find the right test asset, we recommend choosing one that will cost the least amount of money when down. Your first maintenance program may have unnecessary downtime while trying to find the right process. Any machine that isn’t running is time and money lost, so its best to choose an asset that can be down without crippling your workforce.

Step 2 – Create a Baseline

Once you have chosen the Test Asset you need a good baseline for where things have started. This can be anything from current performance to the current maintenance processes. If you don’t have a starting point there is no way to know which direction you are heading. A recommendation is how much unexpected downtime a particular machine has head in the past.

Step 3 – Gather Data

Each machine will have a specific maintenance schedule provided from the manufacturer. This could be anything from the amount of running hours to a set schedule. You will need to do the proper research on your Test Asset to ensure you are completing maintenance exactly as intended. Most manufacturers will void warranty if maintenance has been completed improperly.

Another great place to start is to ask; What were the reasons for downtime on this machine and what could be done to prevent the downtime? You may need to include extra tasks in your maintenance plan after finding out ways to prevent downtime.

Step 4 – Manage Spares, Consumables and Tools

This step is extremely important in knowing that you have exactly what is needed to complete the desired maintenance. Now that you know the tasks needed, ask yourself what equipment is needed to complete these tasks. Whether it is specific fluid (consumable), a specific spare, or even a tool that is needed. You need a place to track these items and a clear plan on when and how to use them. You should also have a plan on when and how to obtain more of these items when the time is right.

manage consumables with Reftab

Step 5 – Implement your Maintenance Management Program

Step 5 is to decide the specific process you are going take. By choosing proper maintenance software you can be alerted when its time to order replacement consumables or even when your next preventative maintenance is due.

You should come up with the proper processes at this point. How should your technicians handle maintenance and what do you expect from them? You should have clear and defined processes for each task in order to improve accountability. 

maintenance checklist in Reftab

Step 6 – Maintenance Schedules

Now that your employees have clearly defined tasks in mind. We need to decide how often your maintenance should be performed. If using a maintenance management program you may be able to implement predictive maintenance based upon run time, mileage, etc. Your manufacturer will also have timelines within the specifications for each equipment. Find the tasks that should be done weekly, monthly or yearly and create the proper schedule for those.

You also need to decide how you want to stay on top of this schedule, whether you are writing it in a calendar or you want to be notified will depend on the route chosen in the previous step. The easiest way would be to have your managers notified of the maintenance. You can also choose to have them go and check the calendar themselves, this could lead to issues but it is completely up to you and the way you run your business.

maintenance schedule in Reftab

Step 7 – Monitor and Adjust Program

As mentioned in step 1, there will be bumps in the road. The process we have come up with may not be the perfect way to complete maintenance. We’re perfectionists at Reftab and believe in always adjusting your program to keep up with changes in the business. Gather your data from step 2 and run those same tests. Ask yourself the same questions to find out exactly how well the maintenance program is working. This is a good time to ask the technicians how the process is working.

The idea behind this step is to perfect maintenance on our test asset. You may need to head back to Step 6 and adjust your schedule. Or even, step 5 and completely readjust the program you implemented. Either way you choose to go this is much easier done on one asset, rather than the entire floor.

maintenance report in Reftab
Reftab’s Chart Builder helps visualize the results of each report.

Step 8 – Recreate this Program for Each Asset

Once your Test Asset maintenance is running exactly as desired, and you believe you have reached perfection. Its time to recreate these steps on each and every asset on the floor. We recommend taking it slow still, you may run into a few bumps depending on the separate manufacturers of each asset.

Now that you have a good idea on how to implement a perfect program it will be much easier to duplicate this process. We know what went wrong the first time and we can avoid those same mistakes. You may run into more mistakes but that is exactly why we recommend taking this process slow and steady. The payoff in the longterm is much greater if you take your time and ensure this process is perfect.

Conclusion

Implementing a Maintenance Schedule is absolutely daunting at first glance. But if you follow these 8 steps listed, you should have a smooth transition into a successful maintenance program. If you need any assistance here, feel free to schedule a demo with us. We will be here every step of the way and can ensure the processes you’re coming up with will fit the needs of your business.

A Production Equipment Checklist for Creative Agencies and Production Shops

Running a creative agency or production shop? You’ll need more than a vision and great ideas to power your creative work. 

You’ll need the right equipment and know-how to streamline the process of producing film, photo, and commercial shoots for clients. 

In this post, we’re rounding up a bunch of actionable strategies and tips to streamline this process of keeping track of all of your assets. 

Production studio asset management

Keeping track of all of your agency gear 

As your agency or production shop takes off, you’ll find the list of gear you need will grow. You may decide to specialize or expand certain areas of your business, but the list of core equipment you’ll need will look something like this:

  • 4K cameras: A versatile, quality 4K camera is an essential piece of equipment that’s worth the investment early on. 
  • DSLR cameras: Digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras are an excellent option for both video and photography. They allow you to swap out different lenses with the same camera body to switch up the look and feel of your creative output.
  • Drones: From the perfect bird’s eye view shot to capturing clear footage from far ahead, drones are becoming an increasingly common piece of equipment for agencies. 
  • Microphones: A good microphone—be it a shotgun mic, boom mic, or wireless mic— can make or break the audio quality of your film. Without it, you risk poor audio that detracts from the visuals of the piece. 
  • Lighting: Good lighting can enhance the quality of a piece and help your creative outputs appear more professional. Lighting kits are a good choice for most production companies, especially for indoor shoots. These kits give you complete control of lighting at any angle. 
  • Rigs: Two primary types of rigs that can be used in your agency. One is an overhead camera rig and the other is a shoulder rig. You may also have some gimbals and gorilla pods on hand.
  • Tripods: The importance of a good tripod cannot be overstated. Tripods instantly improve the quality and professionalism of any shoot by stabilizing the camera. 
  • External Hard Drives & Memory cards: You don’t want to run out of room on your camera during a shoot and not be able to get the right shot for your client.  That’s why you likely have loads of external hard drives and memory cards on hand. 
  • Batteries: Just as you should always have a backup memory card on you, you should always keep spare batteries on hand. 
  • Editing software: The right editing software is instrumental for any production team. Post-production editing is where your creative vision is truly brought to life. However, you’ll need to keep track of all of the software licenses your agency has. 

For every piece of equipment, you need to keep track of all of the related accessories and licenses as well as where you bought it, how much it costs, serial numbers, warranty information, who is responsible for keeping track of the asset, etc. 

How to streamline equipment management processes

If you are still trying to keep track of all your equipment through spreadsheets, you are wasting a ton of time. Here are some tips to help you streamline the whole process. 

Reserving equipment 

In our experience, a common problem encountered by many agencies is that different employees and freelancers in the company need to search and reserve equipment for specific times for their projects.

Managing this process through spreadsheets creates a lot of headaches:

  • Not a great search experience: Ever try to load and search a spreadsheet that’s actively being used by dozens of people with 10,000+ rows of data in it? It can be frustrating to find what you are looking for.
  • Poor UX when making updates: The poor search experience compounds whenever you need to make an update or change in the spreadsheet, like when you are adding a check-out time for an upcoming client shoot.
  • Lack of accountability: When a bunch of people have the ability to edit a spreadsheet, it is easy for rows to go missing. That means you might not know where all of your equipment is. 
     

With asset management software such as Reftab, you can create a user request portal which gives you a lot more control over who has what equipment, when they reserve it, and when they check it back in.

You can even set up different user access rights within the portal. This way, you can make sure certain equipment is only used by employees in a specific location or for a specific client.  

Communication 

An added advantage of setting up your own custom request portal is you can send automatic email reminders to ensure equipment is returned promptly. This also ensures that you always know which equipment you have at any given time.

Pro Tip: For busy directors on on-site client shoots, you may want to send text reminders too by syncing Reftab with Zapier.  

Maintenance

Sometimes the gear will have an issue or need maintenance. So having the warranty information readily available in your asset management software along with a maintenance log, including notes about what was repaired, is essential. This allows you to keep track of all of the equipment that is currently in the shop and unavailable to be checked out. 

Streamline your agency’s equipment management with Reftab 

When you are investing tens of thousands of dollars into assets to run your agency, you owe it to yourself to make sure you are keeping track of where everything is at any given time.

That’s where asset management software comes in handy. You can not only have a real-time log of your equipment for tax and insurance purposes, but it can also streamline the process of reserving gear Ready to give Reftab a try? Sign up for a free account here.

What is Preventative Maintenance Software?

You may be struggling to keep machines and equipment in working order so that they are accurate and safe for your employees to use. With many different types of equipment with  differing calibration schedules or safety inspections, it quickly becomes a full time job to manage it all. You can alleviate this by implementing preventative maintenance software.

Preventative maintenance software gives you one place to track your past, present and future work orders. Depending on the software you may be able to schedule both predictive maintenance and preventive maintenance. This takes the stress off of you and your technicians and allows the software to handle scheduling for you. In the post, we are going to cover:

  1. Reasons to schedule asset maintenance
  2. What are The Benefits of Using Software to Schedule Asset Maintenance?
  3. How do you Know When Preventive Maintenance Software is Needed?

1. Reasons to Schedule Asset Maintenance

One of the keys to high productivity is ensuring your machines are running at peak performance, 100% of the time. Properly maintaining your machines directly results in higher productivity. Your machines will constantly be running at their peak and proper maintenance means extended longevity of these machines. Most manufactures offer warranties with the main caveat being that proper maintenance is performed. 

preventative maintenance calibration

Another benefit to proper maintenance is the overall safety of these machines. Routine maintenance puts you in control of your assets situation. When routing maintenance is forgotten at some point that machine will reach its breaking point, which will lead to an unexpected and uncontrolled situation. This is where injuries come from. 

2. Benefits of Using Software to Schedule Asset Maintenance

It’s entirely possible to track all of this maintenance on a spreadsheet, however, you will need extensive knowledge in order to create a proper schedule. When using spreadsheets for asset maintenance, your work orders, your schedule and your notes are generally held in three separate places. Proper maintenance software puts all of this information in one place. You and your technicians should have easy access to all asset maintenance. This means at any point in time, your technicians should be able to refer back to past maintenance orders. This can help ensure firstly that all tasks were done but what exactly were the results of each test. Rather than keeping a clipboard attached to the asset, this can easily be completed on a smart device. Lastly, asset maintenance software helps improve accountability within your organization. Maintenance orders can automatically be assigned to your technicians. Once they have completed this maintenance, their manager can be notified and even reminded if maintenance has yet to be completed. 

3. How do you know when Preventative Maintenance Software is needed?

As mentioned above, it’s entirely possible to complete this with a spreadsheet. However, once that spreadsheet is out of control it may be too late. Being in the asset management industry, we have had the chance to speak with numerous clients on this exact topic. They told us, spreadsheets were great in the beginning. After a few months they realized these same spreadsheets just weren’t cutting it. Our clients were feeling overwhelmed and almost completely unable to keep up. They began searching for a fix to this problem and found Reftab to be the answer. Reftab is able to consolidate all of your assets, their maintenance (past, present and future) and the employees these are assigned to in one place. If you have multiple assets in need of maintenance there is no better time than now. The best course is to create an action plan before there is a problem. When you get into the specs of any machine, there is a defined lifespan. Being able to track this lifespan along with all maintenance performed can greatly increase both safety and performance in your workplace.

Conclusion

You can see how important proper maintenance on your machines is. Implementing a proper maintenance procedure could seem like a daunting task but we’re here with you every step of the way. We recommend scheduling a demo with us. We will talk about your exact maintenance needs and help you implement proper plans and procedures to complete this maintenance.

A production equipment checklist for film and media students

Helping students as they embark into media and film can be a rewarding experience for professors and teachers.

However, keeping all of the gear organized, ensuring students only check out gear based on their needs/classes, and streamlining all of your equipment rental processes can be time-consuming and stressful. 

In this post, we’re sharing some actionable strategies to help you manage all of your equipment as well as streamline your processes. 

Keeping track of all the gear that media and film students actually need

From video cameras and microphones to rigs, lighting kits, and editing software licenses, there is a lot of moving parts when it comes to the equipment that students need to be familiar with: 

  • Video Cameras: The types of cameras you have on hand will vary based on your needs and budget. For example, you won’t need the same type of camera for a documentary as you would need for an action film or a TV commercial. 
  • DSLR Cameras: Digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras are a popular choice for film and media students. They’re versatile and allow you to swap out different lenses on the same camera body. 
  • Camera Lens: These can be expensive and also easy to lose out in the field. So, you want to make sure you have a system for tracking them.
  • Shotgun microphones: This type of microphone picks up on distant sounds. They’re typically paired with a boom pole for best results.
  • On-camera microphones: This microphone attaches to your video camera to enhance your audio. They’re best paired with a handheld camera.
  • Wireless microphones: This type of mic helps record audio while talking with your actors or subjects, like in an interview. They attach to your clothes and can often be hidden from view.
  • Lighting Kits: Having lighting kits are the way to go, especially if you plan on shooting inside. They can be used to adjust the lighting on set at any angle. 
  • Camera Lights: A camera light that students can attach directly to a video camera for instant lighting. This is helpful for news and documentary-style film.
  • Light reflectors: A light reflector is a low-budget option to alter lighting. They can help students balance and change the appearance of colors in your scene.
  • Rigs: There are two primary types of rigs: a shoulder rig and an overhead camera rig. The shoulder rig is ideal for following your actors around. The overhead rig is made to set up and shoot from high angles.
  • Tripods: Tripods are an essential piece of equipment for any student. Tripods stabilize your camera for smooth panning and tilting. 
  • Memory Cards: You are going to need lots of high-quality SD memory cards along with external hard drives. 
  • Batteries: You not only need to have enough batteries on hand for all of the camera gear, but you should also have a process for keeping it charged.  
  • Editing Software Licenses: If students aren’t in charge of buying their own software licenses, you’ll need a way to keep track of all of these purchases. 

It is not hard to see how you might have hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of equipment and accessories that need to be tracked. For each item, you should record the following information in real-time in a master equipment spreadsheet or ideally in your asset management software, like Reftab.  

  • Company / Vendor:  Where did you buy the item? 
  • Cost: How much did you pay for it? This is particularly important for tracking asset depreciation. 
  • Serial Number: This is particularly important for any product warranties. 
  • Warranty Expiration Date: Most product warranties expire after a certain number of months and years. You’ll want to keep track of that. 
  • Location: Where is the asset being stored? 
  • Custody of the Asset: Who is currently responsible for the asset? And do they currently have it in their possession or is it being loaned to someone else? 
  • Asset Maintenance Schedules: This is the maintenance log for each item. 
  • Accessories & Licenses: If the asset has any related accessories or licenses, you should be tracking and attaching those items to this main asset.  

How to streamline equipment reservations for students using Reftab

There are a lot of challenges when it comes to renting equipment to your students from presenting it to students based upon the course they are taking and the equipment they actually need to a self-service portal for handling equipment reservations, preventing double bookings, and managing communications. 

That’s where a solution like Reftab comes in handy. 

How to handle reservations

One of the best ways to save time and your own sanity is to create a user request portal where students can reserve the equipment they need at the specific time they need it. 

Within Reftab, you can even create different role-based access controls, so you can have different user permissions for individual classes. For instance, students in film-making 101 only have the ability to view and check out beginner-level equipment reserved for that class.  This not only prevents overbooking, but ensures students of all levels have the ability to check out the equipment they need whenever they need it.  

Communications and reminders

Many high school and college students are still learning how to manage their time and projects. So, sending out automatic reminders when the equipment is ready to be picked out along with when it is due back is essential. 

If you have a user request portal setup, you can configure automatic equipment reservation confirmation and reminder emails. For instance, a student will get an email and a text when their equipment is ready to pick up as well as several reminders when it is due back (i.e. 24 hours and 1 hour before).  You can also automatically send overdue reminders if equipment hasn’t been checked back in yet.  

Maintenance

When renting equipment, you always hope that everything will run smoothly and last a long time. However, when it is being checked in and out often by students who may or may not know what they are doing, things are going to break. You are going to need a system to schedule and log maintenance work as well as keep track of broken equipment that can’t be checked out. 

For instance, in Reftab, you can schedule maintenance work, log maintenance status, see the full maintenance history (including maintenance dates), create work orders, and set up automated workflows to assign specific maintenance tasks.

When it comes to managing all of your film and media equipment, there are a lot of moving parts. Trying to keep track of everything in a spreadsheet just isn’t efficient. Ready to give Reftab a try? Sign up for a free account here.