Mobile Data Collection for Contractors
RDM Enterprises Ltd. is a contracting company and equipment provider, offering excavation, demolition, site preparation to final grade, and snow clearing services, as well as supplying rental equipment. The company was founded by Ron Madsen in 1977 and continues to be a family-owned operation run out of Langley, BC. Even having run for decades as a successful company, it was not immune to operational challenges.
Inefficiencies of Paper Forms in the Workplace
The main issues that needed to be resolved included:
- Sporadic collection of information
- Difficulty in getting information to relevant decision makers in a timely manner
- Misplacing inspection books
- Lack of properly timed maintenance scheduling leading to high costs of repair
- Low level of accountability of employees leading to self-inflicted damage and careless inspections
As a result of RDM’s operations, the company has a large fleet of vehicles and equipment that must be tracked and maintained. Managing this fleet with a paper-based system was a sporadic collection of information at best. Not only were the collection and the archiving an issue, but it was difficult to get the information to the relevant decision maker in a timely fashion. RDM relied on carbon-copy books to record information pertaining to the day-to-day business, and these books were often misplaced, which made it difficult for decision makers to use them properly.
RDM realized that they needed a mobile data collection solution when the lack of properly timed maintenance was leading to higher than necessary costs associated with repairs. Regular service was not being tracked to identify repairs that needed to be done before they inflicted worse damage to a piece of equipment.
Another main issue was that there was a low level of accountability that led to high levels of self-inflicted damage with unnecessary associated costs. Without having concrete numbers, it is estimated by the company that they were spending 200-300,000 dollars per year on repairs to fix damage caused by employees’ carelessness.
RDM quickly identified the need for a solution that would help them collect and deliver data in a timely fashion, and that would also provide them with the visibility into their practices to hold employees accountable for the work that they were performing.
Real-time, Mobile Data Collection as a Solution
RDM needed a solution that would provide them with the following abilities:
- Capturing in real-time the processes and asset tracking within their business
- Ease-of-use of a solution in an industry where computer literacy is not required
- The ability to take pictures of pre and post-trip inspections or preventative maintenance to communicate any potential issues to other stakeholders
- The ability to communicate immediately and effectively with other relevant players in the business if something was not performing properly
- Reducing the costs associated with the loss of equipment due to damage or required repairs
- Ability to fill out required checklists as mandated by regulatory bodies in the quickest way possible
RDM needed an asset management product with the ability to capture in real-time the processes that were occurring everywhere in the business and had to be easy to use in the field. If something was not performing properly there was an immediate need to know in order to service the vehicle or equipment in a timely fashion, to avoid the loss of productivity from not being able to use the equipment, and unnecessary costs associated with repairs or from renting equipment while their own assets were being fixed.
Since Work Safe BC and the Department of Transportation both require regular checklists and meetings to be performed, depending on the nature of the job at hand, pre and post-shift inspections are required of any vehicle being used during the workday. Along with being mandatory, this allows the company to identify and address any issues with the vehicles, reducing costly repairs.
Challenges with implementation
The biggest challenge with the implementation was resistance from some employees to the change, and without their cooperation, its use was meaningless and a waste of time and effort. However, after a very short while, the employees got the hang of the product, and began to realize that it made their routine easier, and it became a welcomed and necessary tool in their daily work.
Increasing On-site Visibility, Reducing Repair Costs, and Improved Asset Traceability
The noticeable results after the implementation of the system included:
- Improvements in the effectiveness of data collection
- Ability to see entire fleet of assets that the company owns
- Ability to see reports from real-time data collection that has resulted in better archiving of individual maintenance tasks completed on assets
- Full historical service and maintenance reports have increased the resale value of assets
- Ability to identify trends in recurring breakdowns that are still under warranty
- Cost savings from the elimination of the use of expensive carbon-copy books that can no longer be lost or misplaced
- Decisions have become more informed and take less time to occur, and prioritization of decisions and actions are clearer
- Regular servicing has led to increased visibility of status of assets and to more proactive repairs
- Dramatic increase in confirmation of accountability on the part of the employees, leading to a decrease in costly self-inflicted damage and an improvement in the level of care and attention to detail towards the assets
- More accurate tracking of employee hours through the use of scanned start and end times, incorporating the built-in GPS function as a confirmation tool
Since implementing Equipdata within the company, there have been noticeable changes in the efficiency and effectiveness of the data collection and its impact on RDM, as well as improvements in the conduct of employees.
One of the most beneficial attributes of Equipdata for RDM is the ability to compile data into easy-to-read reports that can be viewed in real time. Service reports have allowed the company to effectively track the servicing that has been completed on vehicles and equipment, and gives them the ability to go back into the archives to determine what service had been done and when. This has been important for them in two distinct ways. Firstly, the tracking of the scheduled maintenance and servicing makes the equipment more attractive to buyers if they decide to sell it. Also, service reporting has allowed RDM to follow repairs and maintenance, and has unveiled any recurring break-downs that may still be under warranty, and therefore no cost to the company to have rectified.
Additionally, the paperless app has eliminated the need for expensive carbon copy books, which cost the company hundreds of dollars every month. Also, with the electronic data entry instead of paper books, there are no longer issues of books being misplaced or lost, and stakeholders can easily share information without the need for a book to trade hands.
The paperless system also allows for the information to be viewed and for decisions to be made in a much quicker manner, since the data is viewed every morning in the reports. Previously, decision makers would often get to the end of the week, when it would often be too late to make relevant and timely decisions. RDM has also been able to use the reports to prioritize decisions and actions and has also allowed RDM to make more informed decisions, such as whether it is more beneficial to rent, lease, or own equipment and vehicles.
In terms of cost savings, there have been several areas where savings have been noticed as a result of the new system. The servicing of the equipment based on each piece’s individual hour meter, results in maintenance on an individulized level, and has led to issues being addressed before they become breakdowns or costly repairs.
As well, the dramatic increase in accountability exhibited by the employees has led to several changes. There has been a significant decrease in self-inflicted damage to vehicles and equipment because employees know that any damage can be traced back to their shift when the asset was their responsibility. Also, when inspections or work is being performed on equipment, there has been a noticeable increase in the level of care and attention to detail. Capturing through the more efficient maintenance standards and the confirmation of accountability, RDM has experienced better cost savings through the use of the product.
RDM has recently begun to use Equipdata to track the number of hours of each worker on a job. This has led to improved administration processes by allowing time sheets to be seen on a daily basis. As well, it has provided them with the ability to track hours more accurately through the use of GPS tracking and to-the-minute recording of how long employees spend at each job site by scanning their personal QR tags.
RDM Ltd. has enjoyed success as a contracting company for almost four decades but was not without difficulties, especially with the collection and use of data pertaining to their fleet of tangible assets. RDM chose Equipdata as their solution, but its implementation was not completely seamless due to the stagnant nature of the daily routine in the industry. Once end users of the product realized its benefits it became a necessary and regular component of their operations.
The Equipdata solution provided RDM with increased visibility into their fleet of assets, and provided them with the tools to track their assets, perform customized maintenance, and avoid costly repairs as a result. They have experienced more effective decision making, and have been able to improve the prioritization of actions and tasks surrounding their fleet because of the comprehensive reports.
There have been noticeable cost savings associated with the implementation of Equipdata through the reduction in expensive books, and other savings that have been a direct result of the company’s ability to more accurately track workers’ hours, the confirmation of accountability of their employees, and the increased care that employees now take with the company’s assets.