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Time is money, so automate your systems

Realising profitable growth and expansion is every business owner’s dream, but achieving this is not easy.

If systems and processes are not up to the task, increased order volumes can be a mixed blessing.

For Yorkshire-based Waters Waste Services, rapid growth was resulting in the directors and staff having to work longer days to meet the increased demand for its services.

“Time was the main problem,” Tom Waters, operations director, explains. “We had outgrown our manual systems and they were slowing down the business.

“Drivers were writing out their own waste transfer notes, which were often difficult to read, and it was all too easy for details such as addresses, waste licence and exemption numbers to be omitted. This had a knock-on effect on the time it took to process paperwork and invoice for jobs.”

Day-to-day management of jobs was another issue, Waters adds: “We were using job books and spreadsheets to record jobs, and spending a lot of time moving recurring jobs onwards and re-writing them. This meant that jobs were easy to miss. As we got busier and the business expanded, we knew we couldn’t continue in the same vein.”

A computerised system would have obvious benefits for the company, but the directors were not confident of finding an offthe- shelf system to cope with the idiosyncrasies of the waste transport sector. They considered having a bespoke system, but found that creating one from scratch would be a lengthy and costly process.

They then found that Mandata’s transport management system Manpack3 had the right functionality.

Manpack3 was developed for the road transport sector, and provides end-to-end management of transport, collections and deliveries from the point of booking through to invoicing. Although Waters Waste specialises in waste removal and water replenishment, it has similar requirements to many road tanker and general haulage operators that already use the system.

Mandata can customise the software to fit the specific needs of companies, and has a range of modules available that integrate with Manpack3 which add to its functionality.

As well as managing transport, operators can track their fleet and loads, and monitor driver behaviour. They can also manage operations such as finances and vehicle maintenance with one seamless integrated system.

Road tanker operators find the Power Take Off (PTO) idling function useful. When an engine is running during loading or unloading, most telematics systems count this as idling. Manpack3 can distinguish between ‘PTO’ and ‘lazy driver’ idling, allowing the true cost and performance of a fleet to be measured.

Manpack3 has helped Waters Waste to resolve everyday issues. It has also accelerated processes and simplified reporting.

Waters explains: “As information is centralised in one place, it is accessible and this has simplified auditing and compliance. We can quickly report our waste trail to customers who need to know how far their waste is travelling so they can monitor their carbon footprint.

“The system has automated time-consuming manual tasks. Being able to print waste transfer notes from Manpack3 has saved time and improved accuracy. And electronic invoicing has enabled us to cut postage costs and speed up invoice processing.”

The system automatically attaches job documentation to invoices and emails them to customers. Invoicing was once a fortnightly activity at Waters Waste but it is now a daily routine, and the company has found that customers pay faster as a result. Its debtor days have almost halved from 60-90 days to 40 days.

According to Neal Waters, managing director at Waters Waste, the software is saving the company £12,000 a year in administration time alone – savings that are being reinvested in the business.

He says: “Our new systems have given us scope to grow. We have opened new depots in Doncaster and Milton Keynes and added four new tankers to the fleet since February 2013, with more to come.

“Manpack3 is enabling our staff to use their time far more productively and effectively than previously, freeing them to do other important jobs. It is a major asset to our business; we would struggle to be where we are now without it.

“We will shortly be implementing personal digital assistants for drivers, which will accelerate the distribution of jobs, and we will receive signed manifests and be able to invoice more quickly. Paperwork will shortly be a thing of the past for us.”    

Steven Robinson is sales director at Mandata

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