Case Study: Robinson Contract Services

October 29, 2020
Caroline Preece

Robinson Contract Services provides nutrient mapping and soil analysis, haulage and spreading services. This work requires around 45 employees to operate alone, whether that’s on the agricultural side working in the fields, or driving distances by themselves.

Robinson’s drivers frequently work late nights and weekends, times when there is frequently no one to man phones at head office. Similarly, those working out in the fields operate without the presence of colleagues or supervisors nearby. 

For these reasons, it was essential to safeguard these workers by setting them up with the Protector™ system. With this in place, should an incident occur, they can get in touch with a chosen contact who can escalate the alert to emergency services if necessary.

Challenge: Reliable Tracking

A lack of reliable tracking data was one of the main problems with Robinson’s previous provider. When a device was misplaced while out on the road, the company could only pinpoint a position within 15-minutes from its last location.

“We had one incident last year where one of our guys on the agricultural side was out in the field on his own and jumped out of his JCB. His device fell off of his belt onto the floor. He didn’t notice and it ended up getting covered in piles of muck.

Once he realised he didn’t have it - about a day later - we contacted the company and asked, ‘can you pinpoint a location?’. They could only track 15-minutes from when he lost it. That was a bit of a downside for us.”

Kay Baker, Project Co-Ordinator

Thankfully the incident only involved a device. If Robinson had needed to pinpoint the location of a worker in this instance, they would have only been given a vague idea of where they might be. When it comes to the safety of lone workers, every minute is crucial.

Solution: Real-Time Location Data

Vatix collects location data every 2-3 minutes, which means a more precise location can be determined and any situation swiftly dealt with. It also ensures that should a worker be injured or a device be lost in the field, an accurate location can be determined.

Vatix prioritises consistent live tracking to ensure that there is no missing information. Not only does this mean that we help save time searching for the lost device, but we actually shave down over 10-minutes of potential search-time in the event of an emergency.

For Robinson, managing a moving workforce, the time saved is immeasurably valuable.

“You don't think of it at the time, you just think of them sitting in a lorry. You know that they'll stay in the lorry until they get to the site, but it's an unmanned site. For me, that is more of a worry… it's the fact that you can track them and keep an eye on them as well.”

Kay Baker, Project Co-Ordinator

Challenge: Time-Consuming Reports

With their previous supplier, Robinson struggled to easily locate the correct data regarding particular incidents. Whether it was insights into total user engagement or their most recent safety incidents, they found that the solution was extremely time-consuming.

This had two substantial downsides. First, it was difficult to know who was using a device and when and, second, it was creating more work for them at a time when they had other projects to focus on.

“The reporting side is a big thing. It’s really helpful because that way you can keep tabs on usage - ‘Why isn’t this on? Are they on holiday this week? Why aren’t they using it? Is it not working?’. That was one of the big issues before, knowing whether devices were working or not.”

Kay Baker, Project Co-Ordinator

Solution: Seamless Admin Support

For administration, working with Vatix has allowed Robinson to keep a better track of who is using a lone worker alarm, where they are, and which alerts can be classed as false alarms or tests. This greatly reduces the time needed to manage the system and associated devices, freeing up time for them to focus on other important tasks.

“The reporting goes through to certain people so that they can check if everybody has their devices turned on, or if they’re using them regularly. We can see if somebody has done a test, or it’s gone off accidentally. It’s quick and easy to get on to as well. It’s not an effort to look for anything.”

Kay Baker, Project Co-Ordinator

The reporting function has also been a huge help for Robinson when it comes to understanding the overall activity coming from applicable devices. This includes how engaged users are and the possible reasons for this, as well as ensuring that alarms are in working order and able to be used correctly.

Challenge: Low Adoption

With plans to increase the number of lone workers out in the field in the near future, an agile and scalable safety solution was vital for the team at Robinson.

While working with its previous provider, the company had been unable to determine basics such as whether their devices were working or not on a given shift. This caused problems for team members who weren’t necessarily tech-savvy.

When devices are difficult to use it’s natural for a workforce to be hesitant to use them. This can become a huge issue not only for the safety of individual workers but also for the business as a whole who will see a lack of return from their investment.

“We had a handful of these old devices that weren’t working. You could be looking right at it and not know whether it was on or if it was working. It was lit up like a Christmas tree so there was no rhyme or reason. So everybody thought, well, it must be working - only to find out that they were faulty.”

Kay Baker, Project Co-Ordinator

Solution: User-Friendly Devices

Both ease-of-use and a tailored service have also been important for fostering engagement among Robinson’s employees. The seamless functionality of the devices, for example, means that everyone can operate them no matter how experienced they may be. 

“People have said to me, it’s easy to use and easy to understand. A lot of drivers aren’t techy people. They might know how to switch on the phone and dial a number, but they’re not always techy guys. I have found that most people seem to be using the devices and not having any issues, so that must say something.”

Kay Baker, Project Co-Ordinator

Protector™’s user-friendly design has saved the company time and allowed it to seamlessly adapt to changing circumstances with Vatix’s help. When an issue with the software or associated devices occurs, for example, specifications can be changed and issues resolved quickly. This allows the partnership to continue smoothly throughout the contract.

“We had a couple of incidents where some of the devices were going off quite often, but we just called and had Vatix turn them down a little bit. Anything that we’ve needed doing. They’ve been very good that way. When the organisation had a change of heart and decided they wanted the alerts going through to one number rather than a set, they changed it all for me.”

Kay Baker, Project Co-Ordinator

Working with Vatix has already helped the team at Robinson Contract Services to scale their lone worker safety operations from 24 devices to 45, and seen a marked improvement in satisfaction amongst the employees using the solutions. 

“I always go by what the guys tell me. If they’re on the ground and they’re using it, then that’s fine by me.”

Kay Baker, Project Co-Ordinator