The wide-open spaces of New Zealand’s Canterbury region contain a lot of vital infrastructure. There are a number of key services that need to be kept running, including water, sewer and stormwater systems. Water and sewage treatment plants require constant monitoring.
Making everything work smoothly is the responsibility of Ashburton Contracting Ltd - a 130-strong team with expertise in civil contracting, construction, and utility management.
Data recording and performance monitoring are a big part of ACL’s business. Their contract with the local municipal authority - Ashburton District Council - requires ACL to monitor and maintain the region’s three sewage treatment plants and 13 water treatment plants. Chlorine levels, pumping performance and several other parameters must be measured and recorded every day.
The traditional way of performing these tasks involved technicians jotting down figures on bits of paper. These were then returned to the office and entered into an array of spreadsheets. It was a complicated and time-consuming process.
With its strong engineering focus, the ACL team was sure there must be a better way of managing things.
The solution: use mobile apps to streamline data flows
The CFO team at ACL investigated several options to improve data capture in the field. One possibility required dedicated devices that ran on Windows 6.5. However, IT Manager Grant Boniface was not impressed.
“It was very ugly, and we could tell it would be a nightmare in the field,” he said. “Then someone suggested we look at Tabral.”
After a demo of the Tabral system, ACL suggested that Tabral team up with Nimbus, the supplier of ACL’s software platform.
Integrating the Tabral app with Nimbus meant that all stakeholders at ACL would have access to regularly updated data from pumping stations and water treatment plants, rather than relying on the spreadsheet-based system.
Simple, seamless and straightforward
ACL introduced the Tabral app in 2012. The company has found that monitoring performance and capturing data have never been easier.
Now, when ACL technicians visit water treatment plants and pumping stations, they simply reach for their mobile tablets, open the Tabral app, enter readings from the installation, and press Send.
The tablet then connects to the mobile phone network, or if coverage is poor, it waits until the signal is stronger, and sends data as soon as feasible. Up-to-the-minute data enters the Nimbus system and is visible for other people to read.
As well as improving the data capture process, the new tablets have boosted workforce productivity. ACL staff simply enter the data once and there is no need for paper handling.
Getting rid of more paper-based processes
Having seen what can be achieved with mobile technology, ACL looked at other ways it could use apps to improve performance. The company identified an opportunity to better manage the approval process when it needs to dig a pipeline through the countryside.
Before soil can be turned, ACL project managers meet with landowners to perform a range of checks and assessments, take photos and record site data. ACL now uses a Tabral app to compile this information, turning a stack of paperwork into a simple, one-step process.
The team are pleased with the way Tabral has worked with the Nimbus enterprise software to ensure everything runs smoothly.
“The Tabral and Nimbus people made it all possible. They understood what we wanted and ensured the app worked the way we envisaged.”
Ashburton Contracting Ltd (ACL) provides civil contracting, construction and utilities management services for the Mid Canterbury region in New Zealand.
Monitoring of critical data, such as chlorine levels and pumping performance, entails regular site visits and data capture.
ACL replaced paper notes and spreadsheets on these site visits with a Tabral app that lets technicians enter readings on the spot.
Data is sent via mobile network to the ACL server, where it is automatically entered into the business’s Nimbus enterprise system.
Tabral and Nimbus collaborated to ensure a seamless, reliable interface between the mobile app and enterprise software.
ACL technicians can now enter data in the field and have it immediately visible in the system to all stakeholders.
Encouraged by this success, ACL has now created a further Tabral app to compile statutory information when pipelines are constructed.