Thoughtful Use of SharePoint and Power Automation Simplifies Processes, Saves Time and Meets Legal Obligations for a Chemical Equipment Manufacturing Company
The organisation is a specialist chemical dosing solutions provider, based in Basingstoke. The organisation designs, manufactures and installs innovative chemical dosing solutions for the UK water industry and industrial manufacturing.
As part of the solutions they are putting in for their customers, this organisation provides equipment. This equipment could be used onsite, or it could be in the workshop. In addition, the organisation has their own equipment in the factory where staff work on a daily basis. Obviously, they have a responsibility to keep up-to-date with the maintenance of all of this equipment. The organisation needed to track when each piece of equipment was last maintained, any certificates that come back from that maintenance, and when it’s next due. The organisation is bound by ISO standards to make sure that they adhere to these rules and they are regularly audited as well.
Furthermore, the way that they had been tracking records in the past, wasn’t particularly efficient. They just about made it through their last audit but needed to improve their systems for next time. So, to summarise, they needed to improve their record keeping around maintenance ready for the next order.
Overall, they were looking for the ability to track all of the equipment in one place, plus, based on the type of test, to be able to automatically figure out when the next testing cycle is due. Following a conversation with us, they realised that they also wanted to be able to automate sending out alerts for those tests with an accompanying escalation process. So, for instance, if the organisation is within three months of a piece of equipment needing a particular retest, then an alert would be sent to just the named responsible person, but the closer the organisation got to the testing date (without the record being updated), then the alerts would started to escalate, first to the line manager, then to the area manager and then finally based around end date.
As the organisation is very used to SharePoint, we created a solution in that, so they can log all of the equipment tests that are required in a SharePoint list. Off the back of that we’ve used Power Automate to create automations, so the organisation has a series of flows running, and those flows are designed to meeting their requirements exactly. When a new item is input to the system, it will generate a unique number for that piece of equipment, so that equipment gets ‘stamped’.
In addition, the system will also figure out based on the type of test that’s actually required, what the next test date is. And then on a daily basis the system is checking to find out if there are any pieces of equipment that are due testing within various timeframes. The system will look 90 days in the future, 30 days, 14 days and seven days, and then it will just keep bombarding with alerts if it doesn’t get done after the actual test date.
Moreover, this helps the organisation by giving them that one central location where they can track all of their equipment maintenance schedules. Rather than having some information in disparate systems, it’s all now in one location. The automation ensures that they don’t miss any equipment that needs to go through the maintenance schedule. That is the big risk and the key factor that would leave them wide open legally. As well as simplifying processes, saving time (and man hours), and making this procedure more efficient, our solution meets all of their legal obligations.
Uniquely, our solution was completely tailored to what they needed, because we are working within the framework of Microsoft 365 (which is extremely flexible), so we could look at different approaches. This meant we could build the rule sets out around what needed to be done for the testing to meet their exact requirements – everything was based entirely around what their legal obligations are for each different type of equipment.
In terms of added value, one of the first suggestions we made was that they could have the escalation process. The organisation was expecting to start off with somewhere that they could go and manually check on a daily basis to see what equipment they needed to test within the next few months.
However, our in-depth knowledge of the workflow processes and how they can be implemented meant that we could automate all of that, even to the point that we have automated where the certificates get stored. So now, when a new test is completed and input to the system, the organisation just need to attach the certificate and it will be saved in the appropriate place – providing the organisation with a full history of the testing regime.
The client is only just going live with this, right now they are in the process of feeding all this information in. Immediately, as they can now auto-generate the equipment ID number, this is providing them with a unique and consistent approach to labelling all of their equipment, which is almost a bonus benefit. It’s also helping them to track the responsible people for each piece of equipment, where equipment is located and, obviously, it’s ensuring that straight away they don’t miss any tests due on that equipment.
The key result for the organisation is that our solution ensures they meet their audit requirements. As they could be audited at any point, our solution makes sure that their equipment is always correctly maintained. Furthermore, they will have the full testing history for the equipment, so when they do face an audit in the future, all the information will be their hands. They don’t need worry about trying to pull the information together for the auditor, they can just display the information directly in the solution.
Our solution is supporting the organisation with a process that they are legally required to do. It is removing a worry from team members – they just need to wait until they receive a notification that they need to do something. It is also removing an additional chore of having to do those manual checks every single day.