I was talking to an SAP Business One customer today and came across an interesting use of mobile technology to help manage a workforce deployed to a remote site – think of a construction site perhaps or physical therapists that regularly go to a nursing home or assisted living facility, contract security, temporary locations. This is not a product the Business One customer uses in their own implementation, but rather a product they build and sell.
The name of the company is Advanced Ventilation in the UK and the product I’m talking about is made and sold by a spin-off called U-CLOCK which operates as a separate company. U-CLOCK makes use of mobile phones to manage time and attendance as well as project updates (including material requests), report health and safety issues and accidents and provide an audit trail of all of the above.
Here’s how it works: The U-CLOCK customer purchases a small device that it locates at the remote site. When the employee arrives, he or she enters the 8 digit number that is shown on the device. A free text message is then sent from the mobile phone (employees can use their own personal phones) to a secure online account to register the location and arrival time. The number changes every 30 seconds, so the time entered is precise within a 30 second window. Managers track this on a computer logged into the company’s U-CLOCK account, but aren’t tied to the console. Email notifications can also be sent to the managers’ mobile phones. If an employee doesn’t arrive as expected at the site, the manager knows immediately. They can also report health and safety incidents and requisition materials.
All this information can be exported to a .csv or .pdf file or can be integrated into back office systems for billing and reporting.
In addition- and this is the part I like best - the U-Locate feature is designed for the lone worker. U-Locate is designed to address the needs of people who can potentially find themselves in an "at risk" situation such as, accidents, physical or verbal abuse at work, or dangerous roles with a real and present risk of physical danger. The main issues for employers is to know (with accuracy) where the lone worker is at any time via the worker’s mobile phone. The U-Locate Software, also accessible through the U-Clock secure console, gives the employer complete insight into the current location and past whereabouts of lone workers.
But more importantly it helps the lone workers in reacting to a dangerous situation or an unexpected event and gives them peace of mind knowing they will be missed if they don’t show up where they are expected and in knowing there will be someone at the end of the line who will know what to do. The worker can activate an alert which will be received by a dedicated emergency response center that has the ability to listen in to events as they happen and contact the relevant emergency services to ensure the quickest response possible.
I guess I show my age when I shake my head over kids constantly texting – and some of my colleagues on Twitter and other social media sites aren’t much different from those kids. Not that I am surprised… many of them are half my age. But I honestly don’t care what my business colleagues had for lunch, when they go to bed or what the view is from their hotel room. This seems a much more pragmatic use of mobile technology.