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Piano inventory and maintenance program

  • 1.  Piano inventory and maintenance program

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11-03-2020 14:31
    Hello and greetings from Tennessee.

    I have taken over the Piano Tech position at University of Tennessee.

    The tech that just retired kept track of everything on index cards and I am trying to modernize and set up tracking for pianos in need of
    work, work completed for projects and regular tuning/maintenance. I don't like Excell and wanted something specific to pianos.

    I already talked to Tim Barnes about Gazelle which actually looks quite promising. But admin wants several programs or applications
    to compare before they will sign off on a purchase.

    Here's your chance to chime in on your favorite (or maybe most hated) product. I am looking for suggestions and recommendations.

    Thanks in advance,

    Dave


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    Dave Conte
    Owner
    North Richland Hills TX
    817-581-7321
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  • 2.  RE: Piano inventory and maintenance program

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11-03-2020 14:38

    File Maker Pro is your best bet.

     






  • 3.  RE: Piano inventory and maintenance program

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11-03-2020 22:34
    I've never used FileMaker Pro. However, I am a huge fan of Gazelle. There was just a thread last week on why... Suffice it to say I think it could definitely work well for institutions. It works really well for my multiple-piano clients, so I don't know why it would be anything less than ideal for large amounts of pianos.

    So... how many pianos are we talking about?

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    Benjamin Sanchez, RPT
    Piano Technician / Artisan
    (805) 315-8050
    www.professional-piano-services.com
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  • 4.  RE: Piano inventory and maintenance program

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11-04-2020 04:42
    Take a look at the resources under http://pianosinsideout.com/Classes.html#CAUT.

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    Mario Igrec, RPT, MM
    Chief Piano Technician, The Juilliard School
    http://www.pianosinsideout.com
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  • 5.  RE: Piano inventory and maintenance program

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11-04-2020 08:21
    I also use FileMaker Pro. I have a few templates I can send your way if you'd like (I was in a similar predicament when I start here two years ago).

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    Adam Schulte-Bukowinski, RPT
    Piano Technician
    Glenn Korff School of Music
    University of Nebraska at Lincoln
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  • 6.  RE: Piano inventory and maintenance program

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11-04-2020 08:45
    Dave

    Congrats on the new gig!!

    Having inherited not one but three schools with NO RECORDS or ones that were interrupted, I would have been quite happy with a set of note cards.  Although the task to convert the note card system is a bit daunting, especially when there are many pianos to tune, the time invested is worth it.

    You can use a simple spreadsheet but the rows get overly populated over time unless you do an annual sheet for each year and assemble them into a more complete record.

    As I have not worked at all with Gazelle I can't comment on it other than it has received great reviews from the retail side among those I know who use the system.

    I have been using the FileMaker format for about 8 years with great success.  While at Luther College I had to give a HUGE sales pitch to a committee of three computer folks who would make the final decision about the program purchase.  The program is the easy part but spending the time to input the data is quite another.  In both cases-Luther and now the U of Oregon-I have input the information via the schema provided by Alan McCoy and available on the CAUT web site.  He developed the platform while the technician at E Washington U.  It works very well for small to medium sized inventory.  We have about 140 instruments to track.

    At Luther I was able to assign the set up to a student who spent about 30 hours doing the work.  Please bear in mind a good deal of that time was learning the new system.  The second time around, now at the U of Oregon, the learning curve was much less and the time to input the inventory was about one half the amount of time.

    With the program I am able to now track the work of course which is the prime function as far as our technical work.  Other items include setting up future work at a glance, inventory management and even budgeting and cost of repairs.  Once set up it is very easy to use and even my students are able to enter their portion of the work they have done.  You can also "move" pianos from room to room with the touch of a key.  (Wishin' it were that easy for real!!!!)  You can also create an easy to read spreadsheet out of the information.

    If you wish to chat more please feel free to contact me.

    Mike Reiter
    University of Oregon


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    Michael Reiter
    Eugene OR
    541-515-6499
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  • 7.  RE: Piano inventory and maintenance program

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11-04-2020 10:44
    I'll ditto Mike Reiter on using Alan McCoy's FileMaker template. I loved using it for over 15 years. It is relational, which means that you can generate multiple types of reports, like a service log, various inventory reports (eg, valuation, age, where each instrument is), track number of hours per type of service, generate a list of which pianos are due to be tuned according to the frequency you have established for each, etc. Any of those reports can be easily exported as an excel spreadsheet to share with others. (I generated quarterly service reports to give my department administrator - documenting my work - and was able to answer any request for information from the chair within minutes in most cases. You can find Alan's template here. There is also a "large institution" template created by the folks at BYU. I haven't really looked at it.

    I understand Cassie Van Gelder uses AIrTable, an on line database/spreadsheet hybrid. I like that platform (we are using it to create inventory databases for the PTG Foundation's museum and library), but I haven't fooled with it enough to see how you might use it to track complex piano service and inventory information.

    I imagine Gazelle works well for scheduling and keeping track of your work, but I would be surprised if it has report capabilities anything like FileMaker.
    Fred Sturm
    www.artoftuning.com
    http://fredsturm.net
    "Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire." -Gustav Mahler






  • 8.  RE: Piano inventory and maintenance program

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11-04-2020 12:00
    All my spreadsheets are now on google sheets, and being able to access them from my phone anywhere as well as share them with separate read and edit permissions with the rest of my team is a huge advantage. It's not relational but it's sortable, can be filtered, columns can be added, and is exceedingly simple.

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    Mario Igrec, RPT, MM
    Chief Piano Technician, The Juilliard School
    http://www.pianosinsideout.com
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  • 9.  RE: Piano inventory and maintenance program

    Posted 01-27-2021 08:35

    Hi Fred,

    Is it possible to view Alan McCoy's FileMaker template if I am not a PTG member?

    Thank you,
    Kris



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    Kris Klein
    Glendale WI
    414-372-9950
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  • 10.  RE: Piano inventory and maintenance program

    Posted 11-12-2020 22:49

    I use Excell. My files mainly are just a record
    of my daily activities at UNC-Greensboro. I break
    my records into 4 categories. Fall Semester, Winter Break, Spring Semester and Summer Break. We have
    136 pianos. I have codes to reflect different services.
    I record the weekday, date and work on one line
    for each day. It's pretty simple and I'm able to search
    to a certain extent but I guess I'd like to explore
    a different method in the future. 



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    Stephen Duncan RPT
    UNC Greensboro
    College of Visual and Performing Arts
    School of Music
    336-847-6310
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  • 11.  RE: Piano inventory and maintenance program

    Posted 11-12-2020 22:50
    I keep the piano inventory on a separate
    file. Also Excell

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    Stephen Duncan RPT
    UNC Greensboro
    College of Visual and Performing Arts
    School of Music
    336-847-6310
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  • 12.  RE: Piano inventory and maintenance program

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11-12-2020 23:10
    Just to give you an idea of the FileMaker interface in Alan McCoy's template, here are two screen shots of the form for one piano. One (blue and yellow mostly) gives the basic data on the piano, together with when it was last tuned, how many days between tunings, and an automatically generated Recall Date. There are also some basic fields for when I last did certain maintenance tasks, handy for setting priorities, as well as reminder fields. 

    The other (orange mostly) is the service record feed for that piano. I can look back and see exactly what I did and when. I started using this in 2005, so I can see 15 years of service. I can also see at a glance what the RH history is since I last tuned it and over the years. 

    This is one view in the relational database. There are many other views and reports that can be called up instantly. The One I used most frequently was Tuning Schedule, that lists pianos in order by Recall Date - used to generate a tuning schedule. Another is Service Records, where everything is logged by date. I used it to generate work reports quarterly for my department administrator, documenting my work. 


    Regards,
    Fred Sturm
    "I am only interested in music that is better than it can be played." Schnabel






  • 13.  RE: Piano inventory and maintenance program

    Member
    Posted 01-13-2021 18:59
    Fred,

    Great set of examples.  Recently, I've been looking at Computerized Maintenance Management Systems, which combine inventory management with maintenance management, among other features.  I'm seeing some benefits in taking some examples to see how they function in these types of applications, which are setup to track multiple types of maintenance as a standard set of features (typically from what I'm seeing so far).  Has anyone tried the applications of Upkeep, eMaint, MicroMain, or similar?  If you have other examples that anyone would like to see in some of these applications, I will testing some trial versions within the next couple of months.

    Sincerely,
    Todd Winter
    682-224-4539

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    Todd Winter
    Piano Technician Associate
    Burleson TX
    817-675-3890
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  • 14.  RE: Piano inventory and maintenance program

    Member
    Posted 01-26-2021 22:00
    Hi Dave,

    Something we use at U of H is a program a friend of mine developed called PianoTrakker.  It is designed specifically for institutional piano maintenance.  It keeps track of where inventory is, generates QR codes to allow students to request tunings or report maintenance issues, has a practice room scheduling feature, allows for multiple technicians, notifies you when pianos need to be tuned again based off your parameters.  Its a great system, super mobile friendly (He developed it specifically for the phone in mind.) Its wonderful and HTML based so it works on ANY platform.  He developed it for our use at Interlochen originally and we use it now at U of H.  Its truly amazing.  Happy to do a zoom with anyone who wants to see how it works and what the interface is like!

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    Corbin Sturch
    University of Houston
    Houston TX
    870-307-5645
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  • 15.  RE: Piano inventory and maintenance program

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-27-2021 22:54
    In addition to all of the above, regardless of the method/program/note cards the MOST important thing about all the record keeping is to "keep the records".  And do it in such a way that the next technician who comes along can interpret the information for his/her use.  Corbin's method and criteria is useful for his school.  His would probably be over the top or my use but of course he is keeping track of not only multiple pianos but multiple technicians as well.  Records are crucial for the institutional memory in his case.   My use of the Alan McCoy schema and FileMaker suits my one horse show nicely.  I can generate reports when needed at the touch of a button.  Note cards work just as well but of course take longer to produce results.  And a simple shuffling of the cards dictates the date of the next tuning.  It can be done very effectively this way.

    Our Asst Dean of Finance in the School of Music and Dance is also insisting that we all put our records/documents on One Drive or some other could based file system just in case our computer fails.  Not a bad idea and I also keep it on a thumb drive just in case.  You can't overdo the back up.

    The encouragement to use the system is based upon its ease of use once set up.  If there are glitches, one needs to be fixing the system and not the pianos.  I don't know about y'all but I don't have time for that formula.  Little enough time to do the service at it is especially in a short staffed system which many of you share.

    I also make a daily habit of recording items at the end of the day since I don't have the handy dandy portable capability.  My memory is still good enough to record the day's events.  AND plan for tomorrow and next week.  If you slip up you should be able to reconcile with your daily calendar.

    Mike

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    Michael Reiter
    Eugene OR
    541-515-6499
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