Gary Escott is the co-founder of SiteZone Safety, he has worked in the field of mobile plant safety for 15 years and has worked on the introduction of technology based safety products across other sectors. His goal is reducing the risk of collisions between vehicles and vulnerable persons using innovative products and technology.
One size doesn’t fit all - design your technology to be adaptable and teach the client how to master it
Listen and learn
I believe that success with service or product provision is to give the customer what they need to help run a successful business, and show them how it works best for them. The SiteZone team does its best to work to those rules, especially since the SiteZone system has become more widely used and evolved into other associated products.
You’ve really got to listen. When clients come to you and say, “we’ve got a problem and we need help”, you can’t assume that the issue is going to be exactly the same as the previous client. It may be very similar, after all, SiteZone Safety is a specialist supplier, so the common thread of collision danger is a given assumption. However, every client, site and group of workers and managers, must be considered as a new case; each case turns on its own facts.
It’s about providing solutions you need, not by wholesale
When we go to the client, we prefer to carry out detailed site surveys at the relevant premises or site. By doing this we make certain that there is optimal application of SiteZone and any of its accessories, as needed. We don’t go into a new appointment with the attitude that ‘one size fits all’.
It’s important for us that the client understands how to use our PWS (proximity warning system) properly and effectively. Often, site managers tell us that the SiteZone PWS alarms go off all the time, reducing the system’s efficacy by halting work while users check to see if a collision is imminent – basically a false alarm as perceived by the users. However, it is worth remembering that a SiteZone system will only ever go in to alarm status when there is a tag wearing pedestrian in the detection zone of the system; so, while the alarm maybe considered a nuisance it is not a false alarm. So, to counteract this effect, we search for solutions that optimise the system’s performance and maintain safety levels, without causing unnecessary alerts.
For example, one of our more recent astute solutions involves altering the PWS to integrate with machine functions including the dead man’s handle (dmh), usually found on excavators.
If operators keep switching the machine on and off, it will become damaged over time. So, our engineering team designed the PWS to work with a dmh, which puts the vehicle in a safe status. This becomes useful when the excavator is static, and people may still have to work around it. So, when the operator disengages the dmh, the SiteZone safety zone expands again – the breach alarm zones are re-activated.
This innovation was inspired by listening to the client. Of course, it became applicable to other users. We gradually discovered that more site activity requires this specific solution, so we could share the technology.
Adapt to survive
I think that technology works best and is more appealing to end users when it can integrate seamlessly with their existing operations. SiteZone was always designed to be a complement to existing safety protocols, not a replacement for them; by its nature it is flexible. This has a direct bearing on its development as many plant machines are multifunctional and the PWS system needs to be adjusted depending on what it’s doing.
Communication cannot be discounted as an asset in the development and application of safety technology. The developers and site managers must speak to one another because each time technology develops in this way, it is relevant and targeted.
Integrity of service is the bottom line that keeps employees safe from harm and collaboration with the customer is vital. Our input should be about providing a service of maximum efficacy, not just installing a product blindly and switching it on. The challenge is understanding what the customer needs and making sure the technology serves a purpose, and not a balance sheet.
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