Using PDAs to manage Wrekin Housing Trust drainage maintenance

UKDN Waterflow provides drainage services for a number of Registered Social Landlords around the UK, and has been the sole drainage services provider for the Midlands-based Wrekin Housing Trust since 2011.

In 2012, the company committed to a £1 million investment in operational technology which included the roll-out of a new drainage management system, ICE. All of UKDN Waterflow’s 400 reactive maintenance engineers, including those dedicated to Wrekin Housing Trust, were equipped with hand-held PDAs that provide a single drainage management dashboard and a wireless data link to the central office in Birmingham.

Gary Webb from UKDN Waterflow, said: “The technology has drastically streamlined the process of assigning engineers to jobs, planning engineers’ workloads, reporting details of jobs and invoicing Wrekin Housing Trust for the work.

“Severe drain blockages are one of the most unpleasant and disruptive household problems, and slow responses and poor communication in the event of a drainage issue can be a major blow to residents’ satisfaction levels.

“When a tenant calls UKDN Waterflow’s call centre with a problem, the operator takes basic details of the job and enters them into the ICE system. Based on the GPS locations and workloads of the teams on the ground, the job is automatically directed to the engineer that will be able to respond most quickly.

“When attending the job, the engineer can then upload full details, and even photographs, to the system for reporting and invoicing purposes. Attendance time is also automatically logged and reported.

“Before the introduction of ICE, engineers were alerted to jobs by text message and required to manage their own work schedule. Reports were produced on paper before being faxed to the central office, a much more time-consuming process.

“A feature that has proved helpful from Wrekin’s perspective is the online portal which allows managers to check on the status and progress of all maintenance jobs in real-time. This has proven invaluable in rapidly providing informed responses to enquiries from residents.

“The increased efficiency and reduced drain of engineers’ time that has resulted from the introduction of ICE has significantly improved response times and all but eliminated oversights.”