Plansafe Solutions Ltd is a leading expert in health and safety legislation, solutions and services. Based in Dumfries, the company has customers throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe. Plansafe is also a UKAS accredited asbestos surveying body and has extensive experience across a wide range of properties in this field.
A third division of the company provides Engineering Services and a key aspect of this team is inspecting plant and machinery to ensure that it is fit for purpose, and issuing certificates, similar to a car MOT. This is a statutory requirement for all types of equipment such as cranes and forklift trucks, construction plant and farm machinery, and also minor pressure systems such as air compressors and ventilation equipment.
The company had outgrown its manual method of recording the inspection results, and producing client reports and certificates, all of which are a legal requirement, and wanted to move to a streamlined online system. There was nothing commercially available in the present market which met all their needs, so the company turned to academic expertise to help develop their own tailor-made solution.
“What we needed was a bespoke and innovative IT system that cut down on data inputting time, reduced administrative burden, and offered customers a web-based, easily accessible and streamlined service,” explained Robert Burton, Senior Engineer Surveyor at Plansafe Solutions.
“The new system also had to be compatible with tablets, so that our engineers could input the information as they were out and about visiting client premises and businesses throughout the region. The system also had to be designed so that the information would be fully protected at all times,” he added.
Mari Findlay, Business Engagement Executive at Interface, met Robert Burton, Senior Engineer Surveyor and Plansafe Solutions’ Managing Director, David Wood to discuss the company’s specific needs and a brief was developed for circulation to universities across Scotland for consideration.
After selecting two universities to speak to in more detail about their proposals, Plansafe chose to collaborate with Dr Robert Kukla and Dr Alan Cannon at The Institute for Informatics and Digital Innovation (IIDI) Edinburgh Napier University to develop the new innovative IT system.
A Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher for £5,000 was awarded to fund the initial collaborative work, with Plansafe making a financial contribution towards the final first phase software programme.
Robert Burton, Senior Engineer Surveyor at Plansafe Solutions, said:
“Thanks to Interface, Plansafe found the ideal collaborative partner in Edinburgh Napier University whose team were quick to grasp exactly what the project requirements were and to offer a suitable solution.
“The system developed has enabled Plansafe to increase efficiency, rationalise resources and provide clients with a reliable, cost effective service, in order to satisfy their legal obligations.”
Dr Alan Cannon, Research Fellow at Edinburgh Napier University's Institute for Informatics and Digital Innovation, said:
“The funding from the SFC allowed us to transform a very good idea into a commercially viable system to assist safety engineers in their working practice.
Using an iterative methodology, we were able to explore, develop, refine and expand the system whilst addressing the practical conditions of conducting robust safety inspections in the field. The research has shown the system can free up highly valuable time for inspectors allowing them to further concentrate on utilizing their safety expertise.
As researchers, we found it highly satisfying to apply our skills to working closely with such an innovative company with a vision for the future of their industry.“
Follow on opportunity
Following this successful collaboration, Plansafe completed a Follow-on Innovation Voucher to further develop the second phase of their software development with Edinburgh Napier University which allowed the refinement of the system to be a viable potential product for other companies in the safety engineering field to adopt. To address the needs of Plansafe and the wider industry other features were investigated and incorporated such as: the inspection of other types of equipment; protected online access for clients to their inspection certificates; the managing of the full inspection lifecycle.
Please note that Interface administers the Innovation Voucher Scheme on behalf of the Scottish Funding Council. All funding applications are reviewed on a case by case basis by the Scottish Funding Council, guidelines can be found here.