Top Six Drawbacks of Paper Records Solved by Switching to an Electronic Logbook

For organizations required by regulatory bodies to keep detailed records, logbooks are highly important. These records ensure that equipment is kept clean, product quality is stable, and that a facility remains audit-ready.

Many manufacturers keep their records in paper logbooks. In this digital age, keeping records on paper can result in a variety of easily avoidable problems. Operators writing in paper logbooks and the supervisors reviewing them face some common struggles:

Paper logbooks are error-prone

When operators fill out paper logbooks by hand, human error will always be introduced. With a paper logbook, supervisors must decipher messy, hard-to-read handwriting, and there’s no way to instantly check if information is missing. Information can be inconsistent and unclear.

A digital logbook ensures that information is always easily readable. Logbook software can flag missing information immediately and prevent operators from marking their tasks as complete until all needed data is present. Configurable digital forms can provide added functionality, from showing minimum and maximum limits on readings to performing calculations on logged data. Moving from paper to electronic logbooks not only eliminates illegible information but also significantly expands a facility’s ability to gain insight from logbook data.

Difficult to maintain

Maintaining a paper logbook means dealing with stacks of documents. These documents need to be stored and organized, taking up time and space. It may not be immediately clear to an operator what information needs to go where, or what they need to do during a certain time.

With an electronic logbook, stacks of books and paper merge into one simple interface. The data becomes searchable, making historical data much more valuable. It is simple to review the logbook, find specific information, and create reports. Because tasks can be scheduled during specific dates and times, operators always know what they need to do, and supervisors can always find events on a specific date.

Shift handover issues

Many facilities struggle with loss of information at shift handover. How can you ensure that when one worker starts, they can understand everything that the previous worker already accomplished? Communicating through post-it notes, whiteboards, or even email are not always efficient solutions.

A digital logbook with a shift handover dashboard significantly streamlines this process. At shift change, users can simply view what went on in the previous shift with a few clicks, and then they can immediately review a list of their own tasks. With data organized all in one place and optimized for users to understand at a glance, the process is significantly simpler.

Lack of accountability

With a paper logbook, it isn’t always clear who should do what, and when. Communication can break down easily. There isn’t an audit trail to know what contributions occurred at what time. There is also no way to ensure that signatures are not missed and are filled out at the required time.

Ensuring accountability for tasks becomes very simple when handled through an electronic logbook. Tasks can be assigned to specific users or groups of users, who immediately see their assignment when they log in to the application. Incomplete tasks are highly visible, so no information gets left behind.

With an electronic logbook designed to be 21 CFR Part 11 compliant, signatures can be managed digitally. They can be restricted based on user role, time-stamped, and flagged if incomplete.

Inaccessible data

It’s not possible to report on the data stored in paper logbooks. Looking backwards through paper logbooks for patterns or statistics would be an arduous task.

When the information is stored digitally in a database, it’s easy to pull it out to examine trends. Preconfigured reports make information review even simpler.

No connectivity to equipment or automation systems

Paper logbooks are offline and consequently cannot connect to external systems. With a digital logbook, records are enhanced by the ability to pull data in from automation systems or equipment. When this is done automatically, it increases efficiency and completeness of record-keeping.

The Bottom Line

When comparing the drawbacks of a paper logbook to the ease and expanded functionality of an electronic solution, there is simply no contest. With a paper logbook, it’s too easy to lose track of important information. In some cases, lost information or poor communication in a facility can have severe consequences, like a near safety miss, hazard, or accident. Electronic logs make day-to-day functioning easier and safer. Switching to an electronic solution reduces and catches errors, makes logs easier to maintain, smooths the shift handover process, increases accountability, and makes data more accessible. Ultimately, all these improvements increase the ability of a facility to adhere to regulatory requirements and maintain data integrity.

Looking for an electronic logbook solution to replace paper? Informetric Systems offers logbook software purpose-designed to address each of these issues. To learn more about our solutions, contact our team.