One of the largest independently owned plant hire companies in Scotland, AB2000supplies construction plant, rail/road machinery, crushing and screening equipment and mobile cranes throughout Scotland and the UK. The family-owned business has been operating since 1995 and has established something of a reputation north of the border. Customers include famous names like Morrison Construction, Bam Nuttall plc, Interlink M74 JV, Aggregate Industries, Black and Veatch and Finning. In 2005 the firm purchased Motherwell Bridges Crane Hire business, and the crane fleet sits comfortably alongside a more established fleet of heavy plant, forklifts and access platforms. However, given the size and diversity of AB2000’s hire fleet, there was real pressure on its record keeping systems, according to Hilary Bruce, Office Facilities Manager and daughter of Managing Director Adam Bruce. “Previously, all our paperwork was processed by hand. It was labour and paper intensive and extremely hard to follow a paper trail for a specific item on a job” she says. “It didn’t matter how many people were employed to keep the paperwork under control, it was obvious we were fighting a losing battle.”
A breath of fresh air
Realising that the company’s reputation was at stake, and that positive measures had to be taken to tackle the paper mountain, the company trialled two hire software systems. “One system, which will remain nameless, was so cumbersome and slow, it was actually quicker to write out the worksheets and invoices by hand” Hilary Bruce continues. “The Syrinx system, on the other hand, was like a breath of fresh air. We soon realised we had discovered a comprehensive system that could cope with our diverse requirements.” In fact the Syrinx system is so comprehensive that AB2000 has integrated the software into virtually every facet of the company’s business. “When a job starts, all the customer details are entered, along with the site, unique order number, job description, type of work, machine required, times, dates and fleet machine numbers.
As the job progresses, it monitors fuel used, time sheets, wages, and bonuses along with things like damage reports and repairs,” Hilary explains. “As some of our equipment is hired with an operator, we also use the system to match men with machines, ensuring that operators only drive machines on which they’re fully trained and in applications with which they are familiar. It even monitors operator licenses, and when they’re due for renewal.” AB2000 also use Syrinx to record insurance details so for each hire the company knows if a customer’s insurance is still current and, importantly, if it covers the value of the crane in question (as per CPA conditions). As fleet items go out, it is also possible to print standard operating instructions and fleet service certificates automatically.
Easy to use
AB2000’s credit controller, Lynn Murray, has really seen the benefits of switching from paper to new technology. ‘If you can use Windows, you can use Syrinx – it is extremely easy to pick up. After half a day of training we were in full control of the system,” she says. “It allows us to have all the relevant information at our fingertips, so we can answer customer queries in seconds.” The integration of Syrinx has even extended to the company’s workshops, according to Bill Marsh, General Manager: “The system allows us to record hours worked so that planned maintenance and servicing of equipment can be carried out with minimal disruption to the client. This has been a real help to our workshops as work can be scheduled in advance.” “The workshops are now prompted on imminent inspections and services to ensure that they’re carried out in accordance with manufactures’ recommendations. All hire dockets and costs, such as hammer hire, are entered. This information can be cross-referenced and given to the client when required, making the processing – and ultimately the invoicing – of a job simpler and quicker.”
According to Hilary Bruce, the benefits of the computerised system extend far beyond the confines of AB2000 offices. “Unquestionably, our customers have benefited from our use of Syrinx” she says. “The system even allows us to enter directions to customer sites, making us more responsive. Prices and contact details are also included so there is no problem with customer queries at a later date.” The greatest beneficiaries of computerisation, however, are the people at the sharp end of AB2000’s business: Lesley Miles on the crane hires desk; and Stewart Gardner, plant hire desk controller. “Processing information has been hugely aided by Syrinx. All of the information can be entered as soon as a job is started and can be constantly updated so that anyone in the company can cross reference and check any aspect at any time,” Miles says. “Should we ever get stuck, the Syrinx helpdesk has been superb. There is always someone at the end of the phone to tell us how to get the best results from the system,” adds Gardiner. Perhaps the most telling comment on the company’s computerisation comes from Hilary Bruce: “The best piece of equipment we have ever bought is not an excavator, dumper or a crusher. It is the Syrinx hire management system.”