Select Solutions has been using Smartrak as a solution for managing the health and safety of their staff in the field for over 2 years in their Queensland operation. With over 25 monitored vehicles in the field, and covering more than 630,000 square kilometres of area – much of it without mobile reception, safety has been a core focus.
As a model example of going above and beyond in supporting their remote workers, Smartrak took the time to talk to Shelley Poor, a Scheduler at Select Solution about the range of scenarios they face in the field, the conditions and circumstances they need to work around, and how a Smartrak solution has been key in managing emergency situations, and looking after the wellbeing of their staff in the field and on job sites.
The Remoteness is not to be understated
Select Solutions operation in Queensland covers a vast area of remote and isolated land. With large amounts of the region serviced outside of mobile phone reception, communication is difficult and the operational risks are greater. With operation across several outback stations, and in areas at risk of flooding, Select Solutions has needed to be proactive in both the monitoring and communication with their staff.
Communication – You can’t just pick up a phone
One of the greatest hindrances to operating and communicating within the area is phone reception. Select Solutions staff will routinely spend a lot of their time outside of mobile range due to the vast area they cover. “If they go outside a 60km radius, I know they’re out there and they’ve got no mobile service” highlights Shelley.
Due to the inability to call staff in the field, Shelley has formed an informal contact network with the surrounding outback stations and their station managers – who have satellite phones on site. This network, whilst not often used, provides an emergency contact in remote regions.
“A lot of operational areas have properties nearby, so we can just take a look at the map and see where they are and ring the actual station managers if we have concerns.”
Monitoring Movements in the Field
To compliment the instantaneous communications issues, Select Solutions has instilled a proactive and positive workplace culture surrounding communication of staff locations and plans. Keeping an eye on staff movements is a key part of Shelly’s role. She keeps the Smartrak’s Visual Intelligence suit running and open full time on her computer.
Select Solutions crew in the field are also proactive in leveraging the use of the system. Be it for safety or directions and routing. Shelley explains that “crews will ring in and say, hey, I’m going into a difficult situation, or I’m popping out of range, can you just watch me in case something happens?”
Experiencing the benefits of the system has really emphasised the benefits of being monitored across the day. “A lot of guys have experienced the safety side of things. I’ve helped them into or out of difficult situations while they’re on the phone. I’ve monitored them and been on the phone while they’re travelling, or if I can’t be on the phone, I’m watching them in case their emergency button is pressed.” Explains Shelley. “I’m monitoring them three or four times a day, just to see where they are, and if they’re travelling okay when they’re on deck.”
Shelley also uses the system periodically to cross-check staff movements against timesheets to confirm times and locations.
Being such a remote service area, its not always easy to get directions. Shelley also highlighted how handy Smartrak’s mapping is for routing and directing the crew in the field. Using a GIS map overlay that includes property lines, Shelley is able to direct staff to particular properties, meters and areas to do certain jobs. “I use it at least three or four times a day to direct staff.”
The combination of monitoring, the station contact network and GIS overlays assisted Shelley during one particular emergency in the field.
“I had a major incident where a crew member was outside of the mobile range. He’d been in a particular position for a long period of time and hadn’t logged on, or referenced anything. It was during our wet season and where his vehicle was, was in a flood zone – so it was a major concern trying to track his whereabouts, if he was okay or if he was stuck. I managed to call the satellite phones of a couple of farmers on a neighbouring property who told me he was down the paddock. He wasn’t bogged but he was trying to move around on the hard ground. We got him out of there safely and moved him away from the area”.
Fortunately, that’s been the only incident that Select Solutions has had in the region. But other day to day scenarios that are navigated with the assistance of Smartrak include “locating properties, support for staff in the field – particularly those who have customer aggression towards them, and any further assistance to get the job done.” Shelley highlights that some sites are known for aggressiveness and in these cases, they ensure staff have backup by the police.
Managing Driver Behaviour
Select Solutions keep an eye on the driving behaviour of their drivers to ensure they’re operating safely in the field. “We do overspeed reporting at least once or twice a week. You’ve also got how many hours they’ve logged onto the car for” outlined Shelley.
Keeping an eye on the logged hours is important to Select Solutions due to the distances between base and operations in the field, meaning that driver fatigue is a concern. Shelley explains that for drivers who are identified as working long hours or late that communication with them is central. “I do a courtesy call to all of them, and see how they’re travelling, and see what’s happening”.
For drivers who have been identified during the overspeed reporting, the information will go up to the supervisor who has a proactive chat with them about speeding and the dangers of driving at speed. When Shelley was asked about how these conversations and re-education initiatives are received she highlighted “they’re quite helpful, staff are receptive to what we’re talking about.”
With as many people in the field as there are, creating some shortcuts and automation really assists Shelly in keeping on top of staff moving into areas of low reception, sites and risky locations. Using Geofences, all of the sites are tracked and logged, and there is a boundary to notify of those going outside a 60km radius (and into poor reception coverage). “I’ve also got a number of properties flagged on there within the radius” explains Shelley.
Onboarding, Training & Support
Shelley has been a champion of Smartrak during her time at Select Solutions. “It’s an easy application to use and I have recommended it to others because it is so user-friendly”.
The support from Smartrak’s Customer Success Managers has really assisted Shelley in making the most of the system. “If I’ve got a question about something I don’t know, or have never seen before, I just give him a quick call. He’s generally able to answer it for me straight away, or he books in an appointment and comes and shows us physically what’s going on.”
For Shelley this has meant she’s been able to keep Select Solutions team safer, and improve the ways in which she is able to monitor and assist them.
“I recommend Smartrak to others because it’s so helpful, and you’ve got all these extra functionalities and other modules that can be added into it so that the Smartrak System can be used in such a flexible manner.”