HSS Groundcare, the only national groundcare hire and maintenance service in the UK, has rolled out new mobile technology that has boosted field engineer productivity by 40 percent. Providing visibility of operations nationwide, the new system supplied by Leeds based BigChange connects back office cloud software with mobile devices and vehicle trackers as part of a paperless, real-time system.

HSS Groundcare is part of the HSS Hire Group, the £350 million turnover business employing almost 3,000 people across 250 UK locations. The specialist groundcare and landscaping service operates from 12 locations nationwide and looks after 21,000 individual assets. Although HSS Groundcare supply and hire equipment, such as lawnmowers, chippers and strimmers, the primary activity is the servicing and maintenance of equipment and the company provides a same day call out service.

HSS field engineers are equipped with rugged tablets running JobWatch, the 5 in 1 app that replaces all paperwork. As well as digital job cards, the devices allow access to a library of useful documents such as procedures and equipment manuals with technical diagrams. On the move the tablets sit in dashboard cradles and provide navigation and BigChange GPS trackers keep customer services up to date on the whereabouts of each engineer.

Previously HSS Groundcare relied on spreadsheets and mobile phone communications to manage the field operations but, as the division was expanded, this system quickly became overloaded and too cumbersome to use with the increasing volume of work.

Colin Newton, HSS Groundcare Director says:

“Utilisation is the key for us and since implementing the BigChange system this is where we have seen enormous benefits. We need to keep our engineers as busy as possible and with this system we have increased utilisation from around 50 percent to 90 percent,”

“Gone are all those idle hours sitting around the depot and our engineers are much happier busy doing their job.”

With clients including local authorities, sports grounds and golf courses, HSS Groundcare provides services that include repairs, servicing, fault monitoring and operator training. A landscaping service meanwhile includes groundworks and the application of compost, mulches and fertilisers. With contracts with many different organisations, each with distinct service packages, managing and accounting had previously been very complicated.

With BigChange, job sheets and reports can be easily tailored and managing business has become a lot easier. The system is also proving invaluable for meeting KPI obligations. With contract performance typically assessed on criteria such as response times, time taken to fix equipment and the first time fix rates, JobWatch provides instant and accurate data on all jobs. Through the tablets, engineers can also access historical information looking at, for example, what repairs were undertaken previously.

Newton says:

“Previously we couldn’t keep track of the work and reporting to customers was particularly difficult. JobWatch gives us all the information we need and that is vital for customer service. Not only can we keep customers informed – on for example the engineer’s ETA or when their equipment has been fixed, but we can also monitor the performance of equipment. We can also spot recurring faults which might be caused by operators themselves. That added dimension to our service sets us apart in the eyes of our customers.”

JobWatch is integrated with the company’s bespoke hire system call SPANNER allowing data to be freely interchanged for accounts and stock control. For example, engineers record parts used or needed on their job cards and this automatically updates the central stock control system and actions parts requests. Engineers can also record labour and parts for recharging and customers get an automated report on completion of the job.

Newton adds:

“BigChange has given us a massive improvement in efficiency and as well as the improvement in resource utilisation – more or less doubling the number of jobs we do a day. We are also saving fuel through optimised routing and scheduling. The added visibility is also allowing us to better plan ahead so we can schedule everything, including annual planned maintenance work, to optimise the use of our resources.”

Newton explains:

“JobWatch was resisted at first by some engineers but now our engineers love it. In fact, they refuse to take any jobs that are not in the system. From a management perspective JobWatch gives us consistency across the business as we all use the same worksheet format; so whether different engineers are in different regions, we all rely on the same standard data reporting.”

Using the BigChange powered tablets, engineers capture photographs on site to provide evidence of work done and the customer signs off work with an on-screen signature.

Newton adds:

“If a job fails we can see exactly why and with time stamped photographs and tracking logs we have indisputable evidence and that means there is really no cause for a debate and we can invoice immediately.”

BigChange has also helped improve customer services according to Leah Hague, Outsource Asset Manager, HSS Groundcare.

“For customer services the key benefit is visibility. With the tracking we can immediately see who is where and see if a job has started and how long it is taking. With live reporting from the engineers we can immediately see the status of every job and everything is attached to a job card – documents, photographs and the customer signature sign off – so everything is in one place and immediately accessible.”