Schick Civil Construction is a major force in the New Zealand civil construction market, working on residential subdivisions, roads, landscaping, drainage and other major projects.
While you’d expect it to be heavily invested in heavy-duty plant and equipment, Schick is also focused on innovations to improve its business performance.
To this end it has made significant investment in Information Technology and other cutting-edge technologies.
The company is a leader in applying technology to its operations to remove inefficiencies and ramp up productivity. Better decisions mean greater operational efficiency, cost reductions and reduced risk for the company.
Hendrik Van Blerk, who initiated and project-managed the implementation of AMS for Schick, says there are huge benefits to be gained by automating business processes traditionally done manually and on paper.
“The more real-time information you get, the faster you can address operational issues,” he says. “We can re-deploy plant where it is needed most, sort out problems faster, and have real-time monitoring and reporting for improved decision-making. It’s the key to working smarter.”
A better way to record hours worked
One example is the way Schick has replaced paper timesheets with an electronic form on employees’ phones or tablets.
Using the AMS platform, Schick has built a timesheet app that is easy for all Schick employees to complete whether in the field or office. They take a minute or two to record the hours they’ve worked, using job codes and site information from dropdown menus. This timesheet data is then delivered to Schick’s system via the mobile network.
If the employee’s device is out of mobile coverage – something that’s not uncommon in New Zealand’s rugged landscape – then the timesheet data is simply stored on the device offline and uploaded once it reconnects with the mobile network.
Previously, some timesheets could take up to 10 days before being entered into the system for processing payroll. Time lag and duplication in transferring information from paper to electronic format were issues, along with the possibility of data entry errors. By capturing timesheet data on-site with a mobile app, Schick has re-engineered a critical part of its operations to remove inefficiency and provide real-time capabilities.
In-house app development enables customised solutions
Hendrik sees real value in the ability to create custom apps with the highly flexible and scalable AMS mobile platform.
“We’re not an out-of-the-box client,” he says. “We have integrated the apps with other technologies we use, such as GPS, and we want to capture different types of data without complicating the interface. AMS allows us to have more than one type of form in the same app.”
An example is the plant inspection checklist that Schick has created using AMS forms. All plant operators must complete a daily inspection check before starting operating plant like trucks, diggers, dozers etc. By integrating this important task into an app, Schick has made it easy for employees to comply with the requirements of their role, and without imposing an extra administrative burden.
Schick has also automated and mobilised core operational tasks, such as truck scheduling. Channelling this critical information to the driver’s tablet, and enabling the driver to confirm pick-ups, deliveries and locations, has allowed Schick to drive more efficiencies in its business.
Robust, scalable and easy to work with
Hendrik believes the AMS platform has added great value to Schick business, increasing its efficiencies and productivity by providing real-time data, monitoring and reporting capabilities.
“The system is robust,” he says. “We’ve sent over 50,000 messages via AMS apps to our truck fleet alone since implementation.”
There’s also a huge advantage in the way AMS enables apps to be developed without adding undue complexity.
“The AMS system is scalable and forms are easy to configure, which means it’s simple for us to develop more custom forms and then deploy within the same app. This negates the need for multiple apps, which is so common in today’s world of ‘app overload’. We can see the opportunity to do a lot more in future within the same app and that is an exciting prospect.”
- Schick is a leader in using cutting-edge technology to drive efficiency in its large-scale civil construction business.
- The company has developed custom apps for a range of operational processes including timesheets, plant inspection checklists and truck scheduling.
- By enabling workers in the field to enter data in real time, Schick can avoid delays in billing and be quickly alerted to operational issues.
- Removing the need for double handling and data entry reduces errors and streamlines time-consuming back office functions.
- The AMS platform gives Schick the power to automate and mobilise its business processes, by configuring apps that suit its purposes, and then quickly scaling their use.
AMS works in partnership with Schick’s ERP system Nimbus software.