Mitchell Services Case Study – JMS

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Key problems and the need

Mitchell Services, an ASX listed company, is one of Australia’s leading drilling contractors, delivering safe, efficient and proactive drilling services to the global exploration, mining and energy industries.  Re-entering the Australian market in 2013 and with a Head Office in Brisbane, Mitchell Services provides drilling services to mining and exploration companies throughout Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.

Due to the diverse location of our worksites, their employees are required to drive company light vehicles, trucks, hire vehicles and personnel vehicles.  A significant amount of this driving is completed over long distances in remote locations.  Mitchell Services has assessed that driving is a significant critical risk for their business.

Many businesses with a similar logistics profile, fit their vehicles with in-vehicle monitoring systems to provide some controls for driving on public roads which Mitchell Services has implemented within the drill fleet and company light vehicles.

The geographical diverse nature of projects that Mitchell Services deliver, employees are required to either fly-in, fly-out and/or drive-in, drive-out to commute to work.  These ‘commutes’ involve both hire vehicles and employee’s personal vehicles.  In-vehicle monitoring systems are unable to be implemented in these cases.

From 2013-2016, journey management was managed adhoc with employees phoning or texting their supervisor to communicate their vehicle movements.  In 2016, as the business started to grow, so did the number of commuters. With an increase in workers and number of sites, it was recognised that there was the potential for exposure to fatigue related incidents, and with the adhoc nature of journey management, there was an inability to review historical journey’s.

Mitchell Services conducted several project fatigue risk assessments, fatigue training, and implemented a manual Journey Management process utilising paper-based forms including a Personal Fatigue Survey and a Journey Management plan.

The process required that once approval was granted, immediately prior to departure, the driver would confirm the Journey Management Plan with the Supervisor including;

  • The intended departure time and arrival times,
  • The intended route to be taken,
  • Planned rest breaks,
  • Vehicle to be used,
  • Names and contact details of all personnel travelling, and
  • Communication methods and call in times.

The driver would call the approver at the designated contact times including at departure, rest breaks, agreed call in times and on arrival.

A review of the Journey Management process identified a number of issues including;

  • Employees who would regularly commute found the process onerous.
  • Employees would fail to text/call in as scheduled.
  • The journey manager not recording correctly details of the journey as it was completed including call-in and arrival times.

It was also identified, that in areas of poor mobile reception. Employees were unable to phone in or escalate issues.  This led to unnecessary escalations to clients and emergency services due to the failure to gain contact with the driver.

Upon conducting audits and reviews into the effective of the journey management system, it was highlighted that these issues were occurring at all their operations throughout Queensland and were not isolated to any particular site. Mitchell Services also found that their clients were using similar processes or had no process at all.

Solution provided

In consultation with Mitchell Services, IONYX was able to demonstrate that the existing process could be replicated through a mobile and web application while providing significant enhancements by both streamlining the process and implementing additional safety features.

Both companies identified that the paper-based process was inefficient and did not sufficiently minimise the risk associated with long commutes. Mitchell Services initiated an agreement with IONYX to further develop the JMS utilising Mitchell Services practical application of Journey Management and IONYX’s technical expertise. The JMS adopted Mitchell Services personal fatigue risk assessment and journey risk assessment processes along with its tracking features.  IONYX completed several in-house tests of the product.  By late 2017 JMS was ready for field trials at which point Mitchell Services started testing at one of their sites where driver commute was a considerable risk.

The workforce at this site gave feedback on the practicality of the app which resulted in enhancements and process changes. The demonstrated engagement with their employees and involving the end user in key improvements allowed early adoption of the JMS to occur within the business.

After the initial trials, JMS was rolled out to a site in another state (NSW) and then successfully tested for a mobilisation to a remote site in North-West Queensland (Doomadgee). By March 2018, Mitchell Services had rolled JMS out to all their operational sites throughout Australia.

JMS enables users to submit a digital Journey Management Plan (JMP) and Risk Assessment through either a web portal or mobile application (Android/IOS). Users complete their Personal Fatigue Survey, select a vehicle from company list (or enter rental or personal vehicle details), add stop locations/check-in points, select departure date/time and complete the Journey Plan Risk Assessment. JMS will suggest the most common route for the planned journey and provide ETA’s for each check-in point as well as journey distance.

Users then select from a list of authorised personnel to review and approve the upcoming journey. JMS notifies selected managers via email and SMS that a journey management plan has been submitted and requires action. Managers can either review and directly approve by clicking a link within the submission email or review and approve by logging into the web portal.

Once a journey has been approved, JMS will notify the driver of the approval.  The driver then simply opens the app and presses start when they commence their trip. When the driver has confirmed their journey has begun, JMS will notify the approving manager that the driver is on their way and will re-calculate all check-in point ETA’s based on current traffic conditions.  JMS will activate location services within the mobile device for real time location of staff members on active journeys.

When a driver arrives at their designated stop location/check-in point, JMS automatically notifies the manager via email and SMS that the staff member has arrived at the scheduled destination. JMS will additionally re-calculate each onward check-in point ETA based on current traffic conditions. These notifications are based on (mobile) device GPS.  This prevents the driver from becoming distracted from interacting with the device allowing them to give their journey and surroundings their undivided attention.  The automatic notification does not require the driver to remember to check-in which results in fewer, if any, false missing person alarms.

When the driver has arrived at their destination, JMS notifies the manager they have arrived and stops recording the GPS.

Additional alerts can be set for users starting their journey late, not arriving at check-in point at X minutes past ETA, verbal coaching for fatigue/rest requirements and an automated escalation process. Managers and administrators can also quickly and easily locate wayward employees through the web portal as well a review and report on historical journeys.

The risks addressed by JMS:

  • Assesses fatigue of the driver to ensure that suitable controls are implemented.
  • Assess the risks of each journey to ensure that suitable controls are implemented.
  • Providing real time visibility of staff locations should an incident occur where previously there was none.
  • Automated alerts and escalation based on real time staff location where previously the reliance was on drivers to pull over and SMS their manager of their progress.

Success of the implementation

Driving is a significant risk in the mining industry, and in particular employees completing a commute to and from site.  There has been substantial discussion regarding a PCBU’s duty of care in relation to commute travel and the reasonably practicable controls that a business is able to implement.  The JMS implementation within Mitchell Services has provided an innovative solution to this problem.

The removal of paper-based forms and the reliance of employees to text in, has ensured that the journey management process is followed as it should be.  Including the personal fatigue survey in the app has highlighted to our employees the need to be fit for work prior to commencing their journey to and from work and allows the journey manager to review these prior to approving the journey.

As the JMS automatically sends a notification once a way point (geo-fence) is reached, it has removed the potential need for an employee to use their phone to check in when driving.  Mitchell Services has been able to respond to employees that have been late to check in and can monitor in real time where the employee currently is.  Mitchell Services employees feel confident that if anything were to happen to them on their journey to and from the sites that assistance is available.

As the app automatically ceases using the tracking/location functionalities once the destination is reached, employees privacy is respected.  This has resulted in a 100% uptake by employees who commute to site.

Following the successful implementation at Mitchell Services, the JMS has been implemented by IONYX in other workplaces and feedback has been extremely positive.

The JMS is more innovative than other solutions available by providing the following features that are not all available with other similar solutions.

  • Real time GPS
  • Auto calculated ETA’s at check-in points based on scheduled start time
  • Re-calculating ETA’s based on current traffic conditions while on a journey
  • No requirement for user interaction while on a journey (other platforms require device interaction in transit potentially encouraging illegal use of mobile phones)
  • Custom geofences which provide location triggers anywhere in the world
  • Real time location-based notifications (other platforms offer SMS on a timer)
  • Re-calculating ETA’s if a journey starts early or late for accurate overdue notifications

Through feedback from employees in the field and the collaborative relationship between IONYX and Mitchell Services (both Queensland based businesses), the JMS has been designed with the end user in mind – our commuters to and from our worksites.