Written by 12:56 pm FSM Technology, News

Case Study: The Power of Automation

How Celvac went from paper-based administration to instant data transfer at the click of a button

It’s a familiar story: reems of paperwork to be completed on a daily basis, easily misplaced and prone to human error. And, when your paperwork is crucial to job completion and invoicing, it can become a costly problem…

When employee-owned industrial cleaning company, Celtic Vacuum Limited (Celvac), took the decision to digitalise their health and safety related paper-based processes they turned to Health and Safety Manager, Steve Van Rhyn, to find a solution which would meet their needs.

The initial search was for a phone-based system which could be used to reduce the volume of paperwork required on-site and complete manual health and safety forms and other job-related administration, including completion evidence and photographs. Prior to digitalising these processes, forms and other paperwork were returned to the office on a weekly basis. They would then be collated into client reports by Celvac’s back office team; this process had to be completed before invoicing could take place. This timescale in which reports were returned to the office, along with the potential for paperwork to be misplaced or mismatched, created an administrative backlog which delayed invoicing and, ultimately, receipt of payments. In addition to this, the time spent completing and collating health and safety paperwork alone was estimated to cost the company approximately £10k per annum.

Steve’s search for a solution lead him to workforce management solution provider, Alternative Logic. After some discussion about what was required, it became clear that Alternative Logic could in fact offer a complete end-to-end workforce management solution which solved many more issues than the health and safety administration issue Steve had originally set out to remedy.

The need for a device agnostic solution:

With 70 employees, 35 of whom are specialists in confined space operations and 15 are HGV drivers, any proposed solution had to be one which was accessible to all, no matter where they were working or which devices they were using.

The first tick in the box was that Alternative Logic is entirely hardware agnostic and can be accessed on any internet enabled device, whether that be an employee’s smartphone or a company-owned smartphone, mobile computer or tablet. This meant that Celvac could continue to use their existing 30 Android devices without any major investment in new infrastructure. Over the years, Celvac have moved to different devices and there have never been issues with compatibility and performance.

Developing workflows for each role: 

The next part of the process was to design the workflows required for each job role, including drivers, engineers and office staff. Alternative Logic’s simple drag and drop workflow builder enabled them to exactly mirror Celvac’s existing workflows and introduce some modifications which would further enhance operational efficiency by streamlining processes. For example, when a confined space entry task is planned, the workflow will automatically list the safety equipment required; when the work location is specified it will prompt the planner to assign the right access keys to the team and ensures that specific site cards are listed which has removed the opportunity for human error.

At the time, Celvac were using AA Route Planner for all planning activities. However, as Alternative Logic integrates seamlessly with Trimble Maps, Celvac took the decision to move software for all route planning. Trimble Maps’ applications are flexible and scalable and their platform of SDKs and APIs can be used in web, mobile, or desktop applications which is ideal for companies such as Celvac.

Resolving multiple issues simultaneously:

The end result is a solution which Celvac’s office-based team now use to plan routes, assign job cards to remote staff and monitor job status all the way through to completion, including health and safety related paperwork.

Steve says: “There is no doubt that Celvac have benefited from using Alternative Logic. The newly adopted planning system has sped up the generation of work routes, job cards and assisted with the implementation of a new contract across the whole of Wales. We manage the cleaning programme for over 8000 assets across our three framework clients and over the years have seen a significant drop in accidental re-visits and aborted visits because we didn’t have the correct kit or didn’t mark off the clean as complete.”

Today, Celvac’s remote staff receive job cards directly to their mobile phones and work through their daily tasks, marking them complete as they go and taking photographs for client reports as necessary. This new approach allows back-office staff to receive confirmation of a completed job in real-time and invoice the client immediately, with the option of attaching a completion report with the invoice.

For Celvac, the implementation of Alternative Logic has removed the need for 90% of paper-based reports and means remote workers no longer need to visit the office at the end of the week to return paperwork and download the site photos required to support invoicing, saving approximately 2 hours of their time per week.  Invoicing is now immediate upon job completion, boosting cashflow and ensuring the fastest completion-to-payment time possible.

Coupled with instant reporting of job progress and the digitalisation of forms, the administrative burden on all staff has been significantly reduced, saving Celvac both time and money. Other benefits include:

  • Real-time overview of business performance
  • Simplified route planning
  • Instant photo uploads
  • Digitalisation of reports – no printing and paper costs.

Steve adds: “The planning functionality when demonstrated to one of our major clients during a rebid situation has enabled us to expand our service to them by 300%. The contract, with 500 sites has now expanded to 2,000 sites as they are confident in our ability to manage and schedule regular visits to each location at the contracted frequency.”

About Celvac

Celtic Vacuum Limited (Celvac) is an industrial cleaning company which specialises in confined space entry, including the provision of rescue teams, which operates primarily in the water industry.

Headquartered in Tenby, Celvac also has satellite offices in Port Talbot, Slough and Deeside and employs approximately 70 staff. With 35 specialist confined space operatives and 15 HGV drivers, Celvac also employs a number of planners, project managers, health and safety and other critical back office staff.  30 years after is started, Celvac became Employee Owned in March 2023.