Cambs Farms Growers produces field-grown salad and vegetables from over 5,000 hectares of land in East Anglia, UK. Its annual crop includes over 170 million lettuce heads and 20,000 tonnes of onions, plus maize, wheat, beetroot, potatoes and sugar beet.
Part of the internationally recognised group G’s, its operation is underpinned by major investment in agricultural equipment. Maintaining Cambs Farm Growers’ fleet of machinery rests with its engineering team – which has invested in ShireSystem maintenance (CMMS) and facilities (CAFM) software to maximise performance, while managing costs.
A sudden need for secure CMMS software
Digital innovation had been on Cambs Farm Growers’ radar for a while, but in 2019 the need for new maintenance software became critical.
“We wanted to replace the facilities management software we’d been using with something cloud-based to offer us better security and protection.”
Lisa Bell, Farm Admin (Workshop), Cambs Farms Growers
G’s has an extensive IT department, which looked at building an in-house application initially. However, because the group has such diverse engineering needs and Cambs Farms Growers had lost its existing software, they decided to outsource technology.
“We were using a spreadsheet in the interim period, which was less than ideal. We had a team of eleven engineers all trying to access and edit it at the same time!”
Cambs Farm Growers started looking for CMMS/CAFM software that could be tailored to their exact needs – and ShireSystem quickly became the company’s go-to-choice.
Setting up ShireSystem for success
ShireSystem proved the ideal software for Cambs Farms Growers because it could be set-up in a way that worked with its complex organisational structure.
Each department within Cambs Farms Growers – from leafy salad and root crops to celery – has its own management accounts. Maintenance charges such as labour costs, parts and mileage must be allocated to the correct part of the business; something that can be carried out in ShireSystem using the Costs & Charges module.
Cambs Farms Growers also repairs and maintains assets for external companies. Through ShireSystem, the company has created a two-tier charging system, so that it can provide outsourced maintenance services at a commercially competitive rate.
Providing a fully traceable asset history
Although Elecosoft can set up ShireSystem on each customer’s behalf, given the specific way it wanted to use the software, Cambs Farms Growers decided to configure it in-house.
Lisa worked with one of her engineering team to create the structure, combining her administrative skills with his technical experience and knowledge of day-to-day workload. With training from the ShireSystem team, they were able build processes that maximised the software’s value to their company.
Immediately, Cambs Farm Growers found that using cloud-based technology joined up its maintenance operation. Documentation and working processes became uniform, while it was easy to create job sheets, allocate tasks and share jobs through one central location. And it’s markedly improved the quality of its equipment service history.
“One of my favourite benefits of ShireSystem is its flexibility. In the past, if we wanted to reassign assets to another part of the business, we would have to create a new record. This made it very difficult to view a complete history of every machine in our business.
“With ShireSystem, we can amend or move existing assets. And we can make notes that explain why something has changed or been reallocated. This level of traceability is so important when you have as much equipment as we do.”
Creating a full service history is also pivotal from an auditing perspective, as Cambs Farms Growers can provide detailed, up-to-date asset information to external parties.
Improving service in the field
More than just a management tool, ShireSystem is changing the way Cambs Farms Growers’ engineers are doing their daily admin, particularly when they’re out in the field.
Through the software’s MobilePro application, maintenance teams are able to access job requests and update their progress on-the-move – rather than having to remember the details of each task and input them into a spreadsheet retrospectively.
“Our engineers can be out for 2-3 days at a time, working on different machines. They can use MobilePro to make notes on each job as it’s completed, rather than having to remember all that data when they get back to the workshop. It’s saving us a lot of admin time.”
One of ShireSystem’s stand-out benefits is the fact that data can be recorded in MobilePro without an internet connection.
“Because of the type of business we are, most of our jobs are in the middle of nowhere, where signal isn’t very good. Our engineers can save their notes to MobilePro and they will upload to ShireSystem next time they have a connection.”
Strategically planning replenishment
With a detailed record of all maintenance requirements now in place, Cambs Farms Growers is using ShireSystem to improve processes in other aspects of its maintenance operation.
One key improvement area is stock management. Lisa’s team has set up all basic components onto the software, itemising the parts needed for every new job and making sure the associated charges are allocated to the right department or end customer.
ShireSystem’s Stock and Inventory Module automatically assigns each component a unique barcode, which Cambs Farms Growers plans to use alongside MobilePro in future, to further enhance inventory control and replenishment.
The company’s long-term plan is to stick these barcodes onto bins in its workshop, which staff will scan using their mobile device whenever they take a part out. Critical stock levels will be set for every item, and ShireSystem will notify the team when supplies are running low and therefore parts need to be reordered.
“The Stock and Inventory Module does more than just tell us how much we’re using and when we need to reorder; it will help us to make strategic decisions,” Lisa shares.
“For example, if we can see that a certain type of machinery is frequently needing new parts, we can discuss whether it’s time to replace that type of machine. The data ShireSystem gives us will help us to plan capital expenditures.”
Advanced inventory management isn’t Cambs Farms Growers’ only future plan. The company is already building a data repository to set and track KPIs, and it will display both these figures and active maintenance requests on screens in its workshop using ShireSystem’s Wallboard feature.
Changing the way G’s runs maintenance
The impressive improvements that Cambs Farms Growers is making with ShireSystem has attracted interest from other companies in the G’s group.
Long-term, ShireSystem could underpin the group’s wider operation across the UK, US, Central Europe, Spain and Senegal. And the beauty of ShireSystem is that it centralises data, creates uniform processes and makes reporting consistent, at the same time as allowing each company to adapt the software to their individual needs.
Improve maintenance, extend asset life, cut costs and enhance compliance: book a free demo to explore ShireSystem by Elecosoft.