OUTCO is committed to innovation and continuous productivity improvement as this helps drive our service standards, efficiency and cost effectiveness
How does OUTCO technology lead to high productivity?
OUTCO is committed to innovation and continuous productivity improvement as this helps drive our service standards, efficiency and cost effectiveness. Innovation and continuous improvement take many forms in our business, ranging from environmental innovations that reduce salt, fuel and asphalt usage, through equipment that helps drive outdoor facilities productivity and standards, to technology that improves communication and enables data analysis. By identifying opportunities for improvement, sharing best practice and standardising our operating systems OUTCO continues to achieve substantial improvements in service provision, while enhancing the engagement with our employees.
By identifying opportunities for improvement, sharing best practice and standardising our operating systems OUTCO continues to achieve substantial improvements in service provision, while enhancing the engagement with our employees
Our clients are constantly looking to us to make savings where possible, without damaging service delivery and standards. In response, we have successfully undertaken a number of consultative programs with major clients to increase productivity whilst making savings in core contract costs. We have accomplished these through a combination of changed parameters such as activation temperatures in our winter services and offering modified packages which focus on core areas and/or blended packages. Using such service models, we have been able to deliver up to 15% annual saving to clients, without compromising service quality.
Heads of Service Departments
Department directors are responsible for identifying continuous productivity improvement opportunities and implementing lean principles and methodology to ensure that the contract is operating as efficiently as possible. They will support the facilitation of end-to-end process improvements, delivery of improved customer service experience, productivity and efficiency. Department Directors are also integral in delivery of year-on-year cost improvements and ensure that the contract remains at the forefront of innovation by being able to access wider OUTCO IT innovation.
OUTCO is committed to eliminating the impacts of long working hours and the resulting fatigue and detrimental effects to employee wellbeing, as well as the negative impact on productivity. This starts with education and training throughout the organisation. The induction stage for each team member includes a full explanation of the working hours regulations, our commitment to ensuring safety, and the process through which we will be monitoring operators. OUTCO has worked with providers to develop an HOS Compliance app for use with our teams, which generates alerts and an escalation process. We can tailor the parameters for alerts to the requirements of a contract so that we comfortably ensure we comply with our clients directives by establishing an alert to notify the line manager of any team member getting close to the threshold.
Technology is central to productivity
Any technology that helps give us more control to respond to unpredictable outdoor conditions is welcome. Beyond improved forecasting methods, a number of technological developments have enabled us to provide a greater level of service guarantees. OUTCO has adopted technology and location intelligence that automates service activation and scheduling when zero ground temperatures are forecast. Mobile access to customer site plans and instructions on devices streamline service delivery and reporting.
One of the biggest advantages that facilities maintenance managers can now expect is better informed services, through automatic notifications and real time updates via portals and apps. A study of facilities maintenance professionals found that innovation is accepted as being very important when evaluating facilities maintenance services during tendering (scoring 4 out of 5).
58% outsource to gain access to better technical expertise. The research found that customers also recognise the importance of innovation and technology to continue to improve facilities maintenance service productivity and quality and The Internet of Things (IoT) and the concept of ‘Big Data’ and ‘Analytics’ are cited as game changers in this regard. The power of the IoT (Internet of Things) is linking islands of data and interpreting and acting on it. What this means in practice for outdoor services in the near future is:
- Improved intelligence of forecast services, brought together with other knowledge of road networks, other localised knowledge of site topology.
- Latest developments of smart sensors monitoring conditions on customer sites. Networked with operational centres local data is used to create bespoke algorithms for more precise forecasting.
- Mapping and heads-up displays to guide human operators for more precise and safer servicing. The next generation of IoT for facilities maintenance is smart sensors and drones that detect the condition of roads and pathways, the humidity, moisture and growth of our green assets.
- It is highly possible that greater access to intelligent use of more or ‘big data’ will not only activate more facilities services automatically, but control robots to play an active role in outdoor as well as indoor facilities maintenance in the future.
Successful technology in facilities maintenance
Ultimately, the key to successful evolution is not technology, but technology that is appropriately applied. In the facilities maintenance world, OUTCO is well placed to consider these lessons from the corporate sphere given that our industry is really only at the start of what is touted as a major digital transformation. Ushered in by sophisticated yet affordable data and analytics tools and the wide ecosystem of connected sensors and devices known as the Internet of Things (loT), new practices such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) are starting to gain traction.
And despite the hype, vast amounts of the facilities maintenance industry remain as yet relatively untouched by technology- especially when you step outside. There are diverse challenges in facilities maintenance and hence it is understandable that the main focus has to be those areas where there is greatest strategic need. And while outdoor facilities maintenance is important, it often falls lower down the list of priorities, and can be managed less carefully. The exception has always been where risk management or health and safety come into play.
While outdoor facilities maintenance is often lagging behind in its adoption of technology, safety critical areas are an important exception. In winter maintenance, the potential liabilities arising from trips and falls on ice have proved a significant driver for the adoption of digital technologies. Today, the entire process of when and how to grit has become far more efficient thanks to the ability to offer proactive real-time service delivery on the basis of highly accurate real-time weather data.
For example, the sector has adopted technology and location intelligence to automate service activation and scheduling whenever zero road surface temperatures are forecast. This ensures a consistent and accurate response to unexpected bad weather, as well as better scheduling and vehicle route planning (i.e. to avoid gritting sites just before heavy precipitation). This also reduces wasteful gritting on days when it isn’t needed – a real-world example of technology delivering cost savings. As conditions become more extreme this level of flexibility really proves its value.
Why OUTCO technology makes the difference
These considerations are also supporting OUTCO’s investments in the Internet of Things. For example, OUTCO has developed a next generation service that uses sensors to provide a live feed of actual road surface temperatures for even better accuracy. In safety critical contexts, we also see a clear role for robotics and are developing and piloting self-driving winter gritting drones that can work to support and enhance the productivity of human operators.
Across facilities maintenance, our technology helps to increase accountability and this is true in winter maintenance, grounds and surfacing. Our teams use devices to log activity in real time, which makes reporting and tracking activity simpler – cutting admin rather than adding layers of extra work. This adds value to managers or clients- particularly those managing multiple properties – as they can draw on the information they need more quickly and conveniently, whether through desktop software or on the move via smartphone apps. This also simplifies tracking delivery against agreed service levels.
Automated reporting can help cut out middlemen and empower operatives. Indeed, we see technology as being the key to helping our clients place more trust in teams on the ground so they can build better relationships and work more collaboratively. In our service lines, accountability also goes hand in hand with risk management. For example, employers have a Duty of Care to provide a safe working environment and to document the reasonable steps taken to ensure this. With snow and ice clearance, technology has made it possible to build in this requirement for evidence at every stage-from vehicle tracking to logging service delivery by scanning on site QR codes.
The use of technology can solve the productivity conundrum. It is already reducing needless labour through data-driven decision making and service delivery and cutting down on admin to track and monitor deliverables. Just like in manufacturing, robotics will soon be used a force multiplier to let fewer employees achieve more when working on site. Ultimately, technology will prove invaluable in delivering productivity gains across facilities maintenance, but only where care is taken to build services that closely align to human needs.
Ultimately, the key to successful evolution is not technology, but technology that is appropriately applied. In the facilities maintenance world, OUTCO is well placed to consider these lessons from the corporate sphere given that our industry is really only at the start of what is touted as a major digital transformation
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