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Southampton UK, 24.10.2008: The Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust has vastly reduced its running costs by dispensing with its in-house warehouse. Instead, the Trust has opted for carrying “imprest stock” on its vans and working in partnership with Buildbase, the builders’ merchants. To support the new way of working, the Trust has introduced PDAs using a mobile workforce software solution from 1st Touch www.1stTouch.com for its operatives in the first move towards a totally mobile engineering workforce. Important selection criteria were drawn up for a mobile application vendor with proven expertise in this area and an open rather than proprietary technology approach.

The decision sees the Trust reducing its financing commitment to stock from around £400,000 to around £60,000 a year, and eliminating warehousing costs such as rental, administrative charges, breakages and shrinkage. Furthermore, by employing this mobile solution the Trust has been able to rationalise its supply chain, reduce business overheads by £150,000 per annum by eliminating the need for a warehouse with its associated costs, and improve stock control.

Once a department of Aylesbury Vale District Council, the Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust has recently been spun off into a registered charity, committed to a huge programme of modernisation and regeneration works.

As a newly separate entity, the Trust was required to remove itself from the council’s premises, and decided on a new site without a warehouse. Instead, the Trust chose to equip its fleet of vans with imprest stock, which would provide 80% of the parts needed on a day-to-day basis, and adopt a bulk purchasing agreement with Buildbase, facilitated through the Trust’s membership of the Procurement for Housing organisation.

Today, Trust operatives are using their PDAs to notify Buildbase immediately of stock used on each job, and to place orders for additional parts. Large items are delivered direct to the customer, while Buildbase picks all other replacement parts ready for collection the next time the engineer visits the merchants.

The Trust receives details of stock used against job and engineer on a weekly basis. With operatives also feeding back information about work in progress and jobs completed via the mobile application from 1stTouch, managers can view stock orders and tasks in progress in real time. They can even check that safety checks are carried out each morning on the vans.

“With high quality information available at head office, we are changing our way of managing people, from reactive to proactive,” says Tom Stamp, Change Manager at the Trust.

Ultimately, the Trust will adopt more mobile technology functionality and roll out 1st Touch across more operations. In the near future the Trust’s back office system will issue job tickets using an automatic scheduler directly to the operatives, reducing the need to visit head office to pick up or deliver paperwork.

“This overall approach will naturally increase the efficiency of our operatives, without putting pressure on them to do more work,” explains Brian Golton, Director of Technical Services.

The solution works by providing on-screen forms for operatives on the PDA, which reflect they way they work and are easy to use. The software application is provided by 1st Touch, a specialist in mobile solutions. The two organisations have worked closely together, and with the provider of the back-office systems, such as Aareon, to ensure a smooth transition to a solution that works exactly to the Trust’s needs.

“We have a very good relationship with 1st Touch,” says Brian Golton. “The people are expert in the field of mobile applications and have demonstrated that they understand our business needs and can provide a solution that meets those requirements. They are very responsive when we need assistance or want to make changes, and it’s this attitude that has convinced us to continue working with 1st Touch through our future developments.”

Managing director of 1st Touch, John Stabler, comments: “We are very pleased to be supporting the Vale of Aylesbury Trust as it moves towards true mobile working. As a not-for-profit organisation, the Trust is using mobile working to significantly reduce its costs and free up funds for the benefit of its tenants.”

Note To Editors: About 1st Touch Mobile Workforce Solutions

www.1stTouch.com

1st Touch, based in Southampton, UK delivers technology which helps organisations completely transform existing paper-based working models into dynamic, flexible and efficient mobile working solutions. 1st Touch has enabled dozens of field workforce-based organisations to painlessly embrace new mobile technologies and so achieve significant savings, greater productivity and more cost-effective use of resources.

The property services market, especially Social Housing, is a key focus for 1st Touch, where best of breed mobile solutions can deliver fast tangible benefits to the organisation.

For further information, please contact:

Cherry Rance
1stTouch
07800 910420
0871 716 3060

cherry.rance@1stTouch.com

or

Leigh Richards
The Right Image
07758 372527
0844 561 7586

leigh.richards@therightimage.eu




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