Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021
In the modern world, digital transformation is without doubt the key to business success. Businesses today need to constantly evolve and add new products or services in response to changes in the market. Technology allows them to do this more rapidly, accurately and cost effectively than ever before, enabling them to easily diversify into new areas.
Speaking at the recent Africa Automation Technology Fair virtual event, Ingrid Osborne, Co-founder and CEO at Saryx Engineering Group, explains that effective digitisation is all about understanding and reading the market, while also not being afraid to adopt new technologies or approaches.
As an example, she points to the rivalry between Blockbuster Video and Netflix some years back. At one point, she says, Blockbuster had over 9 000 stores and more than 84 000 employees, but by simply changing the way we watch movies and introducing new technology behind this simple act, Netflix changed the market and was able to meet changing customer preferences through digitisation.
“When Netflix started – it started as a mail order movie rental business – keep the movies as long as you liked and no late charges. In fact, it started because the founder of Netflix was charged a late return fee. It took Blockbuster five years to offer a similar service to compete with Netflix, and even longer before it eliminated late fees, by which time Netflix had built an unassailable advantage in the market,” she says.
“What this demonstrates is digitisation is a key to business success. To remain competitive and relevant businesses need to constantly evolve, adding new products or services to respond to changes and needs in the market, and technology allows businesses to do this faster, more accurately and more cost effectively. Technology allows companies to repurpose their existing offerings and diversify into new areas. And this is more important than ever when it comes to managing safety and compliance.”
Osborne points out that this was a lesson quickly learned by Saryx which, as an engineering company specialising in systems integration, control and automation, and rail solutions, required safety files for every project or site it was involved with. Under the Mine Health and Safety Act, such files are intended to protect the health and safety of employees, to promote a culture of health and safety and to regulate employers and employees, identify hazards and minimise risks.
“The consequences of any errors within this file range from reputational damage to work stoppages and even potential imprisonment. By law, the file needs to be available throughout the course of the project. However, keeping it completely compliant is incredibly difficult since it relies on constant human interaction to work properly.”
“We were extremely conscious of how difficult this process was and decided to find a new way that was more efficient and less prone to error. As Saryx, we chose to implement a digital solution called HSEC Online® for health and safety document management compliance, as this reduced the potential opportunities for paper to be lost, human error to occur or incomplete data to be used.”
The beauty of a digital health and safety solution like HSEC Online®, she continues, is that it delivers improved operational efficiency and better compliance, thanks to a guaranteed chain of custody.
When looking for successful compliance management software of this nature, Osborne recommends that it check the following boxes: it must be cloud-based, be able to create site-specific digital files for multiple clients, ensure digital transparency between all parties, digital security must be guaranteed through ISO certifications and external penetration testing, and it should be easy to use and implement.
“With a digital system, notifications are automated, so the system tells you ahead of time when documents are about to expire. It will let you know when you are fully compliant, or when an updated document has arrived that needs approval. In this way, it encourages transparency and forces accountability, as it is a thoroughly traceable and auditable system.”
“From Saryx’s own point of view, the impact of our digital transformation journey has been enormous - we have integrated health, safety, environment and compliance into almost every aspect of our business - and are now able to do it for our customers as well.”
She indicates that this includes everything from access control - a no compliance, no entry policy - to training, tracking of equipment (including PPE) and the ability to track performance, record accidents and respond to incidents in real-time.
“The beauty of going digital in the manner Saryx did is that it positions us to implement a number of exciting add-ons. Most notably, going digital has taken our business to a permanent state of around 98% compliance. This has not only made us and our people safer, more confident and capable of focusing on the work at hand but has demonstrated that - just like Netflix - going digital allows us to leverage technology to find a better way of doing things,” she concludes.