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SoftSols and Agility help keep Symonds UK on the straight and narrow

Leading retail products and services provider Symonds UK turned to Computerised Maintenance Management Systems specialists SoftSols to improve their existing performance still further.

The client

Symonds UK is a leading provider of products and services to the retail and industry sector in the UK, with an annual turnover of around £25m. Well established, with 20 years in the retail service industry, it offers solutions in maintenance, management, cleaning, logistics and storage for a range of clients, including the top five supermarket chains.

With its head office in South Wales, Symonds employs more than 400 staff across the UK and Ireland and with national depots in Warwick, Abercarn, Cowdenbeath, Maldon and Tibshelf, and services around one and a half million assets in more than 16,000 customer sites.

And its seven day week service response is backed up by a customer service help desk and a fleet of 100 service vehicles, all fitted with satellite tracking, to support clients requiring services from repair of customer trolleys to bakery cleaning

The business need

Symonds UK has worked with Maintenance Management System specialists SoftSols Group for a number of years. Previously benefitting from using the IMPACTxp system, Symonds wanted a new browser-based CMMS solution to improve and integrate existing systems in job tracking, communication and offer a “cradle to grave’’ service for their customers’ assets. 

Symonds UK also needed to be able to integrate different software packages for accounting and maintenance to reduce double entry of information and be able to track jobs more effectively.

Their different customers all had different reporting needs according to the different businesses. Symonds UK had to find a solution that was robust enough to cope with the differing demands, yet flexible enough to be tailored. After extensive market analysis, they selected SoftSols’ maintenance management solution, Agility.

The solution

Agility is a comprehensive, browser-based maintenance management solution. Its flexible design meant that changes could be easily introduced to address Symonds’ specific asset management requirements.

Symonds has many customers with multiple sites, and the Agility system holds details of each site location and the fleet of trollies and roll cages at each one. Planned maintenance visits are automatically scheduled through the Agility system, and reactive work requests can be entered by customer service staff or fed through from their remote offices, linking with their own accounts and operations systems.

Symonds also implemented a custom upgrade to Agility – a bar code hand held unit – to record details of every repair to every trolley or roll cage. Each asset has a unique bar code attached to it. Using the hand held unit, each asset is scanned prior to repair, with parts and time logged against the asset and a daily log displayed to fitters. That data is captured over a remote network and fed directly into Agility against the uniquely identified asset.

Symonds implemented Mobile Expert for all mobile maintenance work in April 2011. This is being used to capture details of work completed, including custom data capture forms with configurable check list items and data fields. At the end of the job the engineers capture a signature from the customer and the work order is closed automatically through the Agility system.

Agility is also a powerful performance tool. Reports and statistics can quickly be extracted to demonstrate the value to the business of improved maintenance rates and work scheduling.

The benefits

Mike Davies, from Symonds, said implementing Agility had made significant improvements across the company in a range of areas.

“It’s allowed us much more flexibility, reduced our paperwork and made allocating jobs to our engineers much more efficient,’’ he explained. “We look after more than a million assets across 16,630 sites. Being able to accurately track the history of assets accurately is crucial to our business.

“The simple Agility reporting system has allowed us to be able to adjust the reports as required for our maintenance work. Now, we can log maintenance time and parts against specific items with a scan of the item’s barcode, and all the information is held in Agility. The time saved with having all the information in one system, and the ability to be able to track our own costs is priceless to us.

“We work with the top five supermarket retailers throughout the UK providing up to 100% of their trolley servicing and other contracts, and can provide around 300 reports, tailored to our customers’ needs. Agility has certainly helped us secure these and other contracts, helping to grow our own business.”

Next steps

We are planning to roll out Mobile Expert across other divisions of Symonds to reduce paperwork and processing, allow real-time job tracking and track stock. We are trialling milk cage tracking using barcodes with major dairy producers, and RFID (radio frequency identification) tagging on customer assets.

“Agility helps give us a clear and current insight into our performance and service to clients and improves our asset management enormously,’’ added Mike.

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