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Increase Customer Loyalty with Field Service Management Software

One sure way to turn off customers is to give them a disappointing experience. It cuts across the board- from plumbing jobs, electrical installation and maintenance projects, window cleaning or repair, tenants in the property you’re managing, to package delivery firms. If your customers keep witnessing delays, cancelled appointments, to oversights like double booking which end up messing their individual schedules, they are likely to stop hiring your services and seek out a competitor. 

Field service jobs are particularly prone to such blunders, especially with the traditional manual way of doing things. While smartphones and computers have been infused into the day-to-day running of businesses, it is still common to find companies relying on manual processes to schedule their appointments, track the employees providing the services, monitor the progress of the jobs and ask for status updates, to managing inventory and invoices for completed tasks. This creates a major bottleneck in operations. The Small & Medium Business Trends Report, that took responses from nearly 500 SMB owners and leaders, showed that they spend an average of 23% of each workday manually inputting data. This is time that would have otherwise been spent tending to the customers’ needs. It creates a backlog of tasks, forcing the customers to wait for longer to get their issues handled. 

The inefficiencies witnessed in these traditional methods led to the advent of field service business management software. These systems come in to optimise operations and enhance your service delivery. As a business, automating your scheduling, job tracking, routing procedures and handling the invoicing, all through a single platform, greatly reduces your workload. Managing inventory, communicating with your employees out in the field through handy apps on their phone, giving them access to a database of reports and notes on the various jobs they have been tasked with – these all aid in smoothing out the sorting of tasks, and gets rid of the mounds of paperwork that would have been required. 

From Your Customer’s Perspective

When you’re facing a plumbing leak at home, electrical faults that result in power outages in the office building, damaged gas boilers that are hampering operations in the industrial plants- you want them to be addressed. Homeowners, business owners and facility managers in these situations are anxious about getting the issue resolved- yet the firm they are relying on to handle it is caught up in a logistical nightmare, boggled down by paperwork that prevents them from sending their technicians to the location. You really don’t want to hear a series of excuses about why your problem could not be addressed in time. While delays can be a nuisance, cancelled appointments are altogether exasperating. See, the customer is left in a difficult position, since the problem is not resolved, and they have to contend with having to make a subsequent appointment- of which they will not be sure if they can bank on the hired firm to deliver on its mandate. With an FSM, you get to prevent such incidents from occurring.

How Your Customers Benefit From Field Service Job Management Software

Reliable services

Firstly, the customer wants services that they can count on. When an issue arises and an appointment scheduled, they want it to be honoured. With the FSM, you get to accurately schedule the tasks, from the timing involved to assigning it to the appropriate technician, who is skilled in the task. With the automated scheduling and dispatching, the technician downtime that was previously witnessed is reduced- which has the welcome benefit of cutting down your operational costs. 

Speaking of which, the confusion that was previously seen when perusing through documents and simply calling up the first employee whose skill is similar to the job description, is avoided. Here, the field service management platform enables you to determine the most appropriate member of your workforce to handle the task. This makes them more motivated at their job, resulting in higher quality results- whether it’s an installation task, repair and maintenance project, or cleaning service for companies providing them in residential and commercial buildings. 

Get it done right the first time around

The field service scheduling software enables the technician to have all the information pertaining to the job accessible in real-time. This is availed via app– that the technicians will have on their phones. It is through this very app that they will make updates of the tasks being handled, sending in notes, photos and reports to the system. These will, in turn, be monitored at the head office all through the progress of the job, being managed through the interactive FSM dashboard. 

With the customer’s history being accessed by the technician, information that includes the specs and hazards about the particular job being handled, notes from the previous technicians who had been tasked to the building- such as the installation crew and previous repairs that had been done, will enable the personnel on the ground make well-informed decisions throughout the course of the task. Any issues that arise will also be taken note of, equipment and parts ordered through the app as well, ensuring that things proceed seamlessly. That way, the percentage of situations getting fully resolved during the first appointment increases- which translates to fewer cases of complaints being made. 

Instant invoicing

Immediately the job is done, the customer inputs their e-signature through the app, and the technician marks the task as completed, the very same FSM is used to process the invoice and send out an emailed copy to the customer. This will be an accurate invoice, without any data loss, and the customer can then proceed to make the payment through their preferred mode- from credit card payments to cash, without having to wait for hours for paperwork to be processed. All this information is securely stored on the cloud-based platform.

Creating a great first impression

Your image is a core part of your operations. Certainly, you don’t want to come off as disorganised- and your customers will be quick to note this with issues like missing records, outdated reports, lateness, and improper assigning of tasks. On the other hand, having a modern digital solution integrated into your field service operations will enable you to make a great first impression, showing the level of professionalism with which you offer your services.

Customer access

FSM platforms like FieldElite also give the customers themselves access to the system, through their own dashboard. This is particularly handy given that there are cases where the customer will have multiple jobs to be carried out- like property managers who keep on having cases of plumbing accidents, electrical faults, and cleaning service needs in the different buildings that they are in charge of. 

Through the customer portal, they will be able to make appointments, track the history of repair and maintenance jobs carried out on the property, and follow up on queries. What’s more, together with the IoT where FieldElite links to ecoVaro, one can have an interactive energy management system in place to keep accurate tabs on the energy consumption, efficiency, point out areas where repairs are needed, and have technicians come over- with the bookings being made through the FSM.

Enhance Customer Experience And Score New Business Opportunities

Customer service is a key aspect of your operations. When your customers are well tended to, with their needs being met in a timely and proficient manner, it wins you their loyalty, and they’ll be more open to sending referrals your way- growing your market share. Feedback- from testimonials on your site to the reviews on your social media handles, also aids in this- and you want to have satisfied clients who will put out a good word about your brand. By investing in field software for service businesses, you will increase your employees’ productivity, monitor trends, improve communication between your head office and the technicians on the ground, all of which come together to increase customer satisfaction.

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Top 10 Benefits of Using Field Service Automation Software

Just how much wastage is witnessed in your operations? Each morning your technicians report to work, they receive the day’s schedule, go through the inventory for the parts and tools that will be required, collect and fill the paperwork, before finally hitting the road- translating to hours of manual organisation. What of the information they need when they are at the site? Are they carrying around bulky files on each individual customer? Your field technicians are also responsible for lots of the equipment being handled- and you want to keep a tab on it all- knowing what is being worked on, when it is happening, how long it takes, and the materials that have been used. Dealing with all this on your end through loads of Excel sheets, calculating and updating time logs, and ticking off the inventory- it can be a strain. Field Service Automation Software comes in to handle it all- from the scheduling and tracking, to inventory control and invoicing- all on the same platform.

Eliminating the Paperwork and Optimising Your Operations

There has been a surge in demand for all-in-one Field Service Management (FSM) solutions. They leverage the power of mobile technology, cloud computing and social collaboration to boost the efficiency of field services. In fact, the FSM market is growing at rates never seen before, if the recent statistics are anything to go by. According to the latest estimates, it is worth $3.5 billion and is expected to hit $5.9 billion by 2024.

It’s understandable why this is happening. Technology is advancing, and we all know it’s every entrepreneur’s dream to optimise the use of the available resources while guaranteeing customer satisfaction. If technology can deliver this through automation, why not? Every business now wants to automate things, and the focus is to maximise resource output. You should, therefore, not be surprised to see the FSM software industry booming. If you just considered the field service industry, you’ll realise that there are so many software applications to help with service automation, whether full or partial.

A good example is FieldElite, which helps with the management of field workers. From your desktop or the palm of your hands, on a tablet or smartphone, you can take full control of your field workers, manage scheduled jobs, and use maps to manage work assignments for the already dispatched field workers. Not only does FieldElite help you handle tasks in an accountable manner but also provides options for accounting and reports, all managed in an easy to use dashboard.

10 Benefits Field Service Automation Software Brings On Board

Why would organisations need to invest in a Workforce management app? Below are some of the key benefits of using a Field Service Management software:

1. Cut down the down-time and make every minute count

From scheduling your operations, mapping out preferred routes, dispatching the service team, to staying connected with them throughout the tasks, you get to improve worker efficiency with field service software like FieldElite. 

Most FSM software programs allow the administrator to send tasks directly to the field worker’s mobile. More often than not, the FSM software provides vital information, including service history, optimal route to the site, the tools required, and contact numbers, among other details.

This improves efficiency by ensuring that the client’s needs are taken care of promptly. Where it’s about machine maintenance, the downtime would be as short as possible.

2. Enhance professionalism and boost your brand image

FSM software programs are known for ensuring professionalism in the manner in which business activities are conducted. Of course, professionalism is attained through several factors, including working with a team of professionals. Such a team, using FSM software, results in enhanced efficiency and excellence.

A field service software like FieldElite helps you to consolidate all your business information into a single central database. With different access levels, your employees will access only as much information as is relevant to their respective duties.

An FSM software is ideal because the stored information can be accessed from any location, meaning field workers can pick new tasks while in the field, provided they’ve got the requisite tools. Instead of having to come back to the office, the employee would access all the information and execute the necessary task.

3. Resource Optimisation with Real-time Field Service Automation Software

Resource optimisation is one of the key determinants of a company’s profitability. While businesses vary in size and purpose, they all share one thing in common – the desire to increase productivity while ensuring the optimal usage of resources.

Besides productivity, field service software also allows for efficient utilisation of the available resources to cut down on costs.

4. Stay connected with all your crew- and coordinate them better

FSM software facilitates improved coordination with the workforce. The software streamlines the management of the entire field service life cycle, ranging from labour to work orders, returns, contracts, warranties, and equipment.

The idea is to bring all the company’s field-related operations to a central point. And now, with easy data accessibility from a central platform, improved coordination is easily achievable.

5. Get accurate data and make well-informed decisions every step of the way

Adopting the field service management software is more than just a way to improve efficiency. It goes a long way towards improving a company’s accuracy. When a field service management software is used to trace a company’s activities, all the tasks are tracked on the mobile device, keeping the managers informed of every step.

Besides, the technicians also have a free reign to record the diagnostics, quality information, test results, and the parts consumed. All the information can be captured using text, audio, videos, and still photos. This guarantees minimal to no instances of data manipulation.

6. Improve Customer Satisfaction: Win Their Loyalty

Field service management software improves customer satisfaction. How does that happen? Well, using a field service software like FieldElite allows for quick response to customer queries. If there’s one thing that quickly turns your customers off, it’s delayed response to their requests. With the field service management software, however, you can respond to such requests quickly and effortlessly.

Moreover, your customers can also track the service engineer to ensure they’re well informed of any anticipated delays. With quick response time, customer machines have more reliable up-time, which is the desire of every client.

7. Flexibility – because no one likes being tied down

If there’s one thing that customers like when dealing with a company, it’s flexibility. Instinctively, customers will always want different options to choose from when using a service without appearing to be confined to one provision. Having limited options would also appear boring.

To this extent, it would be wiser to adopt advanced FSM software. Advanced FSM software is compatible with mobile phones, meaning users can easily manage their tasks from isolated locations. FSM software can either be device-agnostic or device-specific. The device-specific type supports Android, Windows, and Apple iOS. This guarantees mobile-friendly tasks where users can easily manage the assignments via mobile application.

8. Store client history in secure cloud-based FSM software

Software like FieldElite stores client history precisely. All the past data, including order history, are stored separately and accurately. In so doing, the field technician gets easy access to the tools, specifications, and technician instructions that aid them in their operations. The result is increased productivity and on-time service delivery.

9. Asset Management and Inventory Control

Naturally, companies offering different repair services have plenty of assets to store. Accordingly, retrieving a specific part out of the large collection would be daunting.

With a field service application like FieldElite, the staff members can track down all the products effortlessly using the GPS. Furthermore, the FSM software ensures excellent maintenance of assets.

10. Improve oversight of field workers – and keep them in the loop

The FSM software comes with many useful tools, including a built-in GPS tracker. The GPS tracker oversees the operations of the on-field workers, providing precise details about their geographical location, actual arrival time, and most importantly, the distance from the job site.

While this might not be useful at all times, it comes in handy when you need to assign an urgent task to the nearby technician. Call it a classic example of dynamic scheduling.

Final Thoughts

With so much at stake, it’s increasingly compelling to include the Field Service Management Software in your business. With every industry moving towards automation, your business cannot afford to lag.

Quick and efficient service delivery through FSM software may be the difference between you and your competitors.

The FSM software is no longer the cherry on the cake but a must-have tool for your survival in the highly competitive market.

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Proactive Preventative Maintenance: How IoT and Field Service Management Software Helps

FieldElite, our mobile workforce management software, has been key to several industries’ return on investment. Whether it’s for plumbing, electrical, property management, cleaning, and maintenance, FieldElite has provided data centralisation for efficient management of these business activities. 

Field service management software is important to utilise current workload, and also helps resolve future issues. We’re talking about a proactive approach to preventative maintenance. 

How exactly do field service managements help in preventative maintenance? 

The answer lies in how field service management is interlinked with IoT in predicting future jobs for the mobile service industry.  

What is IoT? 

Simply put, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of devices and sensors connected to the internet. These “things” (e.g. your smartphone or smartwatch) enable data to be sent and be received without human intervention.

Fundamentally, IoT is about devices being connected to the internet to allow remote monitoring

For many years now, remote monitoring for IT infrastructure has been widely used. 

What’s new that we’re experiencing right now is even the smallest devices — individual light bulbs and sensors — can have a network and internet connection, allowing entire systems to be monitored in great detail. 

Implementing IoT and accessing data can be challenging for most service organisations. However, when combined with predictive analytics and field management software, it can have a huge potential impact on individual businesses and the service industry as a whole. 

What is Preventative Maintenance? 

Preventive maintenance refers to regular, routine maintenance to help keep equipment up and running, preventing any unplanned downtime and expensive costs from unanticipated equipment failure. 

The goal of preventative maintenance is to decrease the likelihood of a machine or an equipment’s failure by performing regular maintenance. 

Preventative management can be very complex, especially for companies with a fleet of equipment or customers. It requires careful planning and scheduling of maintenance on equipment before there is an actual problem. 

Also, preventive maintenance is evolving. It’s not just about scheduling the same work every month to prevent failure anymore. Today, working smarter with better information about equipment conditions is critical to ensure maintenance is effective.

That’s where IoT and field service management software, like FieldElite, comes in. Together, they organise and carry out preventive maintenance needs for service industries. 

How IoT and FieldElite Helps in Preventative Maintenance

With FieldElite and IoT technology, you get the best in preventive maintenance management.

  • Evaluation of equipment or machines — the condition of machines or equipment is evaluated in order to predict when maintenance needs to be performed. 
  • Automated work order — automated time-based work order creation
  • Full condition-based plans — allows you to do the following:
    • Right-size your maintenance work
    • Lower costs
    • Extend the life of your or customer’s assets 
  • Quicker reporting — due to its efficient and automated nature, IoT and field service management software can reduce a field technician’s average report time from two weeks to two days, therefore boosting your cash flow! 

That’s the most important result a mobile service management software can produce (in connection with preventative maintenance). It’s cost-saving! This can be achieved over routine or time-based preventive maintenance, as tasks are only performed when they are needed. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) and field service management software is changing field service as we know it. 

Companies who adapt and utilise these technologies will benefit the most from the resulting competitive advantage of preventative maintenance. 

Start elevating every field service experience now!  

Our field service software, FieldElite helps you: 
  • Accepts jobs in the field
  • Automate appointment scheduling
  • Manage scheduled jobs 
  • Get real-time visibility into all operations
  • Have a clear and easy viewing of job locations 
  • Resolve field service calls faster 
  • Enable mobile workers to get the job done right
  • Keep customers updated at every step 
  • Create quotations and accept payments 
  • Analyse efficient reports from field technicians
  • Helps in proper preventative maintenance management. 

Learn how to schedule jobs to field workers with ease. Check out FieldElite

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How Bouygues manages an Empire-Sized Footprint

Bouygues is into telecoms / media, and building and road construction. It also knows it has to watch its energy footprint closely. Owning 47% of energy giant Alstom keeps it constantly in the media spotlight. Shall we find out more about its facility management policies?

The journal Premises and Facilities Management interviewed MD Martin Bouygues on his personal opinions concerning managing energy consumption in facilities. He began by commenting that this was hardly a subject for the C-Suite in years gone by. Low-level clerks simply paid the bills following which the actual amounts were lost in the general expenses account. That of course has changed.

Early pressure came from soaring energy bills, which were pursued by a whole host of electricity-saving gadgets. However, it was only after the carbon crisis caught business by surprise that the link was forged to aerial pollution, and the social responsibilities of big business to help with the solution. The duty to have an energy strategy became an obligation eagerly policed by organisations such as Greenpeace.

Unsurprisingly, Martin Bouygues’ advice begins with keeping energy consumption and its carbon footprint as high up on the agenda as health and safety. “It needs bravery and a lot of hard work to get it there,” he says, “so perseverance is the key”. 

The company has developed proprietary software that enables it to pull data from remote sensors in more than 80 countries every fifteen minutes. A single large building can contribute 50 million data items annually making data big business in the system. Every building has an allocated energy performance contract against which results are reported monthly, as a basis for reviewing progress.

The system is intelligent and able to incorporate low-occupancy periods such as weekends and public holidays. What is measured gets managed. We all know that, but how many of us apply the principle to our energy bills. With assistance from ecoVaro, the possible becomes real.

We offer a similar service to the Bouygues model with one notable exception. You don’t buy the software and you only pay when you use it. Our systems are simply designed for busy financial managers.

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The Connection between Big Data and MDM

Master Data is information that is critical to your business. This could include contracts, proprietary information, intellectual capital and a whole lot more besides. Because this often reposes in a variety of different places, you need a master data management / MDM policy to control it. That way, you can link it all together in a single, secure, backed up file.

This Sounds Like Big Data

Not necessarily: big data refers to extremely large data sets that are best stored and analysed on a cloud using big technology, in order to uncover trends, patterns and associations often relating to human behaviour. Of course, if you run a niche restaurant your critical master data might be limited to a few recipes and the books you do not care to show your accountant.

The distinction is largely a question of size: think of your master data as the subset of big data that you already have your mind around. According to John Case of IBM this is probably already in a structured format and available to share. He goes on to present a cogent case for using this as a peg point around which to systematise the rest. This is because the average organisation already has master data recording customers’ and prospects’ behaviour.

Do I Still Need My Master Data?

Yes you do, because real people created it with the benefit of human insight. Retain it as a separate set. Then compare it with the results of big data processing for even richer insights. Two heads are better that one and that goes for data processing too.

Trends in CRM Big Data

Adding data via location-aware devices like smartphones and tablets is adding a new dimension to customer information. We now know where they were when they made the enquiry or punched in the information. Use this geo-location data to hone the way you interact with customers and service their accounts. Do not phone a customer who makes decisions at work when they are at home.

Does My Master Data Belong on a Cloud?

There are a number of ‘ifs’ to consider. How comfortable are you with your service provider. What would happen if someone hacked their server? There are many advantages to cloud technology. Denizon knows of solutions you can rely on, and makes sure its clients have contingency plans to protect them at all times.

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What Sub-Metering did for Nissan in Tennessee

When Nissan built its motor manufacturing plant in Smyrna 30 years ago, the 5.9 million square-foot factory employing over 8,000 people was state of art. After the 2005 hurricane season sky-rocketed energy prices, the energy team looked beyond efficient lighting at the more important aspect of utility usage in the plant itself. Let’s examine how they went about sub-metering and what it gained for them.

The Nissan energy team faced three challenges as they began their study. They had a rudimentary high-level data collection system (NEMAC) that was so primitive they had to transfer the data to spread-sheets to analyse it. To compound this, the engineering staff were focused on the priority of getting cars faster through the line. Finally, they faced the daunting task of making modifications to reticulation systems without affecting manufacturing throughput. But where to start?

The energy team chose the route of collaboration with assembly and maintenance people as they began the initial phase of tracking down existing meters and detecting gaps. They installed most additional equipment during normal service outages. Exceptions were treated as minor jobs to be done when convenient. Their next step was to connect the additional meters to their ageing NEMAC, and learn how to use it properly for the first time.

Although this was a cranky solution, it had the advantage of not calling for additional funding which would have caused delays. However operations personnel were concerned that energy-saving shutdowns between shifts and over weekends could cause false starts. ‘We’ve already squeezed the lemon dry,’ they seemed to say. ‘What makes you think there’s more to come?’

The energy team had a lucky break when they stumbled into an opportunity to prove their point early into implementation. They spotted a four-hourly power consumption spike they knew was worth examining. They traced this to an air dryer that was set to cyclical operation because it lacked a dew-point sensor. The company recovered the $1,500 this cost to fix, in an amazing 6 weeks.

Suitably encouraged and now supported by the operating and maintenance departments, the Smyrna energy team expanded their project to empower operating staff to adjust production schedules to optimise energy use, and maintenance staff to detect machines that were running without output value. The ongoing savings are significant and levels of shop floor staff motivation are higher.

Let’s leave the final word to the energy team facilitator who says, ‘The only disadvantage of sub-metering is that now we can’t imagine doing without it.’

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What Energy Management Software did for CDC

Chrome Deposit Corporation – that’s CDC for short – reconditions giant rollers used to finish steel and aluminium sheets in Portage, Indiana by applying grinding, texturing and plating methods. While management was initially surprised when the University of Delaware singled their plant out for energy assessment, this took them on a journey to bring energy consumption down despite being in an expansion phase.

Metal finishing and refinishing is an energy-intensive business where machines mainly do the work while workforces as small as 50 individuals tend them. Environmental impacts also need countering within a challenging environment of burgeoning natural gas and electricity prices.

The Consultant’s Recommendations

The University of Delaware was fortunate that Chrome Deposit Corporation had consistently measured its energy consumption since inception in 1986. This enabled it to pinpoint six strategies as having potential for technological and process improvements.

  • Insulate condensate tanks and pipes
  • Analyse flue gas air-fuel ratios
  • Lower compressed air pressures
  • Install stack dampers on boilers
  • Replace belts with pulleys and cogs
  • Fit covers on plant exhaust fans

CDC implemented only four of the six recommendations. This was because the boiler manufacturer did not recommend stack dampers, and the company was unable to afford certain process automation and controls.

Natural Gas Savings

The project team began by analysing stack gases from boilers used to heat chrome tanks and evaporate wastewater. They found the boilers were burning rich and that several joints in gas lines were leaking. Correcting these issues achieved an instant gas saving of 12% despite increased production.

Reduced Water Consumption

The team established that city water was used to cool the rectifiers. It reduced this by an astonishing 85% by implementing a closed-loop system and adding two chillers. This also helped the water company spend less on chemicals, and energy to drive pumps, purifiers and fans.

Summary of Benefits

Electricity consumption reduced by 18% in real terms, and natural gas by 35%. When these two savings are merged they represent an overall 25% energy saving. These benefits were implemented across the company’s six other plants, resulting in benefits CDC management never dreamed of when the University of Delaware approached them.

ecoVaro offers a similar data analytics service that is available online worldwide. We have helped other companies slash their energy bills with similarly exciting results. We’ll be delighted to share ideas that only data analytics can reveal.

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How Westin Melbourne Hotel Trimmed its Footprint

Becoming sustainable is a three-pronged process. You must save money and push the buttons the government is pressing you to. But there’s a deeper, more urgent issue. If your customers mark you down for not being green enough you are heading for trouble. Let’s see how well this hotel is doing.

The Melbourne flagship of the Westin hotel chain boasts 262 spacious rooms with views of Melbourne Square and surrounding theatres, designer boutiques, galleries and national landmarks. The architects included conference facilities, a wellness centre and sundry bars and restaurants. After climate change arrived to stay, hotel management discovered they had inherited a water and energy-greedy monster. Their solution was to measure what was going through their systems, and then progressively cap the building’s greedy appetite.

The Melbourne Westin Hotel could not have achieved results without these metrics. They began by determining key indicators and measuring them. This provided them with criteria to set achievable, cost effective targets in the following key areas of their business:

  1. Water Management – Demand-based linen and towel recycling, installation of back-washable water filters, water-saving shower heads, dual-flush toilets.
  2. Waste Management – Conversion to green products, recycling kitchen oil, moving towards a paperless office, recycling everything possible.
  3. Energy Management – Energy-efficient light bulbs, standby settings for lights, computers, televisions and air conditioners
  4. Stakeholder Communication – Staff green-team training, guest education, ongoing employee briefings
  5. Strategic Positioning – Visible, top-down commitment, optimised carbon offsets from clean, renewable energy sources, clearly stated position in the market

Westin’s Melbourne landmark has made good progress towards becoming the green hotel for others to follow. It has adjusted its environmental policies, increased water and energy awareness and implemented tight waste management.

Consumers are already shopping to make their carbon footsteps lighter. Food stores are on the bandwagon although apparel is lagging. Perhaps it’s time you found out just how your company is shaping up. It’s no longer a matter of ‘if carbon taxes’. It’s a matter of ‘when it does’.

ecoVaro is a software system-in-the-cloud that lets you enter your water and energy consumption and process it online so you can monitor and manage your usage. In no time at all you could be saving money like Westin Melbourne did. Does that sound like something worth investigating?

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How Volvo Dublin achieved Zero Landfill Status

The sprawling New River Valley Volvo plant in Dublin, Virginia slashed its electricity bill by 25% in a single year when it set its mind to this in 2009. It went on to become the first carbon-neutral factory in 2012 after replacing fossil energy with renewable power. Further efforts rewarded it with zero-landfill status in 2013. ecoVaro decided to investigate how it achieved this latest success.

Volvo Dublin’s anti-landfill project began when it identified, measured and evaluated all liquid and solid waste sources within the plant (i.e. before these left the works). This quantified data provided its environmental project team with a base from which to explore options for reusing, recycling and composting the discards.

Several decisions followed immediately. Volvo instructed its component suppliers to stop using cardboard boxes and foam rubber / Styrofoam as packaging, in favour of reusable shipping containers. This represented a collaborative saving that benefited both parties although this was just a forerunner of what followed.

Next, Volvo’s New River Valley truck assembly plant turned its attention to the paint shop. It developed methods to trap, reconstitute and reuse solvents that flushed paint lines, and recycle paint sludge to fire a cement kiln. The plant cafeteria did not escape attention either. The environment team made sure that all utensils, cups, containers and food waste generated were compostable at a facility on site.

The results of these simple, and in hindsight obvious decisions were remarkable. Every year since then Volvo has generated energy savings equivalent to 9,348 oil barrels or if you prefer 14,509 megawatts of electricity. Just imagine the benefits if every manufacturing facility did something similar everywhere around the world.

By 2012, the New River Valley Volvo Plant became the first U.S. facility to receive ISO 50001 energy-management status under a government-administered process. Further technology enhancements followed. These included solar hot water boilers and infrared heating throughout the 1.6 million square foot (148,644 square meter) plant, building automation systems that kept energy costs down, and listening to employees who were brim-full with good ideas.

The Volvo experience is by no means unique although it may have been ahead of the curve. General Motors has more than 106 landfill-free installations and Ford plans to reduce waste per vehicle by 40% between 2010 and 2016. These projects all began by measuring energy footprints throughout the process. ecoVaro provides a facility for you to do this too.

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How Ventura Bus Lines cleaned up its Act

Melbourne’s Ventura Bus Lines grew from a single bus in 1924 to a mega 308-vehicle fleet by the start of 2014. The family-owned provider has always been community centric; when climate-change became an issue it took quick and urgent action. As a result it now stands head and shoulders above many others. Let’s take a closer look at some of its decisions that made the difference.

The Important Things to Focus On

Ethanol Buses – Ventura is the only Australian company that uses ethanol power produced from sugar cane for experimental public transport. It compares emissions within its fleet, and knows that these produce significantly less CO2 while also creating jobs for locals.

Electric Buses – The company has been operating electric buses since 2009. These carry 42 seated among a total 68 passengers. The ride is smooth thanks to twin battery banks kept charged by braking and forward momentum. When required, a two-litre VW engine kicks in automatically.

Ongoing Driver Training – Ventura provides regular retraining sessions emphasising safe, environmentally-friending operations. Drivers are able to see their fuel consumption and carbon emissions online and experiment with ways to improve these.

Bus U-Turns – The capacity to measure throughput convinced the company to abandon the principle that buses don’t do U-Turns for safety’s sake. Road re-engineering made this possible in a busy downtown street. This reduced emissions equivalent to 4,000 cars and reduced vehicle downtime for servicing.

Increased Business – These initiatives allowed Ventura Bus Lines to improve its service as customers experience it. This led to an uptake in patronage and a corresponding downturn in the number of passenger car hours. The pleasure of travelling green no doubt contributed to this.

How Measuring Made the Difference

Ventura Bus Lines is big business. Its 308 buses operate out of 5 depots, cover 31% of the metropole, and transport close to 70,000 passengers on average daily which is no minor task. The ability to track, measure and analyse carbon emissions throughout the area has earned it compliance with National Greenhouse Energy Reporting Threshold 1 legislation.

It also uses the data to re-engineer bus routes to further reduce fuel consumption, energy consumption and operating costs. It’s amazing how measuring is affecting its bottom line, and the health of the Melbourne community at large.

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