Implementing a 'Fully Integrated, Mobile' Vision
Written by Mark Shepherd-Smith, Information Systems Manager at Seymour Whyte
Seymour Whyte is a diversified publicly listed infrastructure provider, delivering major essential projects nationally across a wide range of sectors. For nearly 30 years, Seymour Whyte has worked alongside clients to define their needs, and then deliver solutions that meet them.
We build on our success through a reputation for solving complex problems and creating innovation with smart engineering. We work for a broad range of both public and private sector clients with robust contractual requirements. It is imperative that we have streamlined systems to enable our people to work smarter and ensure compliance and continual improvement across key business areas including safety, quality, and environment.
Prior to Zerion, safety data was collected either through disparate paper processes or not captured at all. Safety inspections were completed on paper and filed in a drawer. Data collection regarding onsite inspections was limited to whether the inspection had been done or not; there was no insight into the type, quality, or results of the inspection. Similarly, safety actions were not being actively recorded because it required an additional data entry step.
In mid-2014, we sought to find a platform solution that would support our ‘fully integrated, fully mobile’ vision. This platform needed to augment our existing mobile development strategy by providing configurable form-based data collection and integration into our existing systems. It also had to be configurable by administrators to ease the bottleneck on the internal development team.
By January 2015, we were ready to go live with the initial set of forms which included inspections, observations, safety conversations, and action management. Over the course of the year, we added forms to include environmental management and plant inspections. These forms used equipment-specific QR codes which allowed us to easily identify machinery and plant.
Our Safety Management System requires all project staff to complete a certain number of inspections per month. The detailed inspection form contained around 190 questions and was becoming unmanageable. Using Zerion’s tiered form structure, the team enabled users to select the areas of risk on their project and inspect only those parts, and do it effectively. Where action is required to rectify an issue, it can be noted inline and managed as part of the Action Management cycle, again using an iForm to raise the action.
Safety Observations and Conversations
Taking positive leading indicators such as safety conversations and tracking their completion as well as the types of conversations occurring has been very useful. Project staff would have the conversation with a subcontractor or other employee and note the details of the conversation afterwards on a tear-off notepad. This data now seamlessly transfers into the safety database and can be reported and analysed there.
When plant arrives on site, it is inspected to make sure it is safe to use. The new process involves issuing a QR Code sticker which the iForm tool can read and return key information about that piece of plant. The inspection details and photos are then transferred directly to our plant management database, greatly improving the transparency of the plant we currently have onsite.
Actions can be created from any of the other safety forms and are pushed into the Action Management database. A triggered process then picks up new actions from the database and pushes them into an ‘Assigned Actions’ form. Users can then see the actions they have been assigned, record the appropriate closeout details, including photographs, which is returned to the Actions database for closure.
We have over 150 field team users ranging from construction supervisors, engineers, safety and environmental specialists, and auditors. Many of our users have been in the construction and engineering industry for many years and were able to quickly adapt to the new solution. The simplicity of the form design has made user uptake very easy.
Within the first month the Project team had completed 85% of their KPI safety inspections on the iPad. The feedback was really positive across the team. The app is easy to use....even staff from the older generation embraced the concept very quickly.
A key benefit of the Zerion solution is that data collection does not get in the way of the processes we are trying to support. For example, the main value of a safety inspections is the inspection itself, the fact that our project staff are remaining vigilant to safety risks, identifying hazards and actioning them. The data collected provides information on the health of these process – are we inspecting the right areas, which questions typically fail, how many actions do we create on a typical inspection? Additionally, the location and time data collected in the background can provide important insights into geographic coverage and time to complete inspections.
The Zerion platform has delivered on its promise of eliminating paper from a number of our site processes. Our supervisors and engineers no longer carry a wad of forms into the field just in case they need one. Every form is available instantly (and in the latest version) on their iPad.
Zerion complements our bespoke solutions that deliver daily diary, timesheets, and quality management solutions. It has freed up the bottleneck on the internal development resources and enabled ‘non-IT’ people to build and deploy forms. Finally, the data collected has provided new insight into our safety management processes which ultimately results in a safer workplace.
About the Author
Mark Shepherd-Smith has spent a significant part of his 20+ year career focused on the effective use of IT in construction. Working with mobile devices has shown promise, but was often difficult to implement in the industry. With the introduction of iPad technology in 2010, Mark founded a company to develop a daily diary app; the solution was eventually adopted and internalised by Seymour Whyte in 2014. Following this, Mark joined Seymour Whyte as an Information Systems Manager to manage the ‘Fully Integrated, Fully Mobile’ vision.