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Used well, technology has the power to transform businesses and procedures. Here, Mobile Mini managing director Andrew Thompson looks at the innovations making the storage container firm a leader in its field.
At Mobile Mini, what we offer could be said to be a simple service; people need storage or extra space, and we provide it.
However, over the past decade or so, technology has revolutionised the way we work inside and out and, perhaps most importantly, while on the move.
Take our yards for example. We’ve recently implemented an updated work orders system, which uses technology to allow the yard workers to capture day-to-day operations in real-time. This has the benefit of improving visibility for stock levels in branches, as well as providing data on repair times and accurate costing for budgeting purposes.
Our North West branch also recently trialled a paperless repairs order system, in which work is sent to a tablet in the workshop. The process was introduced by the operations team, and is yet another example of how we are using technology to boost productivity and efficiency, at the same time as reducing the amount of paper we use.
In the yard
We’ve also started rolling out the iAuditor app, which we originally trialled at our Stockton head office. This innovative app allows staff to undertake an electronic ‘walk-round’ of a site, looking at all areas, from housekeeping to safety checks, to ensure that all members of the team are being kept safe, in sometimes tough conditions.
The app syncs to a platform that creates actions and allows staff to take and upload photographs showing good practice and highlighting any areas of concern. These are then reviewed in branch and rectified ahead of the next monthly audit. Notifications are also followed up by the relevant branch manager in the quarterly, more in-depth audit.
The iAuditor app has the benefit of working instantly, while also cutting down on unnecessary paperwork, and is proving to be an excellent, time-efficient way to ensure safety on site.
To further maximise safety – which is, after all, our highest priority at Mobile Mini – we have introduced a near-miss hazard reporting system called Notify; an app whereby any team member can quickly and easily inform management of any areas of concern.
With near-miss reporting one of the key factors in accident prevention, allowing staff to capture a the situation as it happens, in-situ, and send it to the incident response team with a short precis of the event is vital to ensure that solutions are found as soon as possible.
On the road
As a business whose work regularly takes us out on the roads, we take full advantage of all the technology available to us.
With the news that 99 cyclists died on Britain’s roads in 2018 (two fewer than in 2017), while 3,707 were seriously and 13,744 slightly injured, we’re proud to have invested in the latest innovations across our fleet of delivery trucks.
All new trucks are fitted with the HALO cycle warning system, which features four ultrasonic sensors to alert drivers to bicycles and pedestrians, an audible and visual turning warning and an in-cab monitor that provides the driver with a 360-degree view. Additionally, high-intensity LEDs leave a ‘halo’ on the ground to alert cyclists to the truck’s presence in the dark.
On top of all our internal innovations, we’re also starting to look at how the Mobile Mini customer engages with us too. In a world of Domino’s Pizza, Uber and Amazon, consumers have growing expectations of app-based shopping, next day or same day deliveries.
As such, we are working on launching a customer portal, which our US teams have already introduced to the marketplace. This would allow customers to see their live account, the units they have on rent, track the length of the hire and even evolve to placing orders for core products and arranging collections.
This aligns perfectly with our industry-leading 360 guarantee, which sets out, in a measured way, every step of the customer’s journey, from opening a new account to placing an order and through to how long it takes us to collect the unit – what we believe to be a UK first for the industry.
In an ever-changing world, it is critically important that we appreciate the change in expectation and behaviour of our customers, to ensure that we meet their needs as the industry leader.
In a wider context, it is vital for the construction industry to move with the times, and take advantage of every available innovation, to keep up with competitors if nothing else.
While there is no substitute for human awareness, the technology we’re seeing coming through now clearly has the potential to save time, money and even lives, and so no firms can afford to be left behind.