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Fire engineers on write path

02 August 2011

An innovative digital pen is the proving an essential tool as BDS Fire and Security aims to make its field operations more efficient and provide real-time information for head office

BDS FIRE AND SECURITY IS A NATIONWIDE fire detection and security organisation. Its range of bespoke solutions includes fire detection and alarm systems, fire protection equipment and security systems including CCTV, Intruder Alarm, Access Control and Retail Tagging solutions. As part of ID Fire and Security Ltd BDS design, supply, install, commission and maintain these systems utilising an in-house network of over 80 specialist engineers across the UK, as well as providing 24/7 emergency call out facilities. Major clients include the Ford Motor Company , Her Majesty's Court Service, London Borough of Sutton, Transport For London, NG Bailey and Group 4, as well as hotels, banking, educational and healthcare organisations.
BDS works in an environment where fire protection and security are critical to personal safety, life and business. BAFE and SSAIB accreditations provide their clients with the assurance that their systems are serviced in compliance with current legislation and standards by a professional organisation with trained, competent engineers and staff.
Out in the field, BDS engineers need to be able to complete work sheets at the end of each job and get these back as quickly as possible to their head office in Hackbridge, Surrey – together with any recommendations for invoicing and quotations. Previously, the engineers relied on fax machines to transmit these documents. But this meant that the paperwork was taken away and often left in vans or laptop bags, leading to long delays before it could be processed.
Another key issue was that they needed to be able to leave a handwritten and signed hard copy with the customer. An important regulatory requirement – but not an easy one for technology to satisfy.
The solution – better than faxes or PDAs
So BDS looked for a faster, more efficient way of getting their paperwork back to base. They also wanted to be able to speed up their invoicing, and have up-to-date information easily available for their clients.
The need for a signed hard copy to be left with the customer effectively ruled out the use of PDAs with the associated cost of printers, toner and paper. They’d heard about digital pen technology, but were dubious at first. Could something as simple as a pen - even a digital one - really be the answer?
They went for it. Destiny helped to convert their existing BAFE-approved work reports into digital paper format. The implementation with their team of engineers went smoothly, and was easily combined with a rollout of new mobile phones.
Thanks to the simplicity of the technology there was very little training required, and little change to the engineers’ working practices, so they adapted quickly and well.
Now, at the end of each job, engineers continue to write out their work reports as before, but now using digital pens and digital forms. Then, simply by ticking a box in the corner of the form, the pen strokes are transmitted as electronic data via Bluetooth to the engineer’s mobile phone … and then on to Destiny’s secure servers where the data is processed, converted into text and sent on to BDS. The whole process takes less than one minute – and the actual paper form that they’ve written out can be left with the client.
Administrators at BDS can view a pdf of the original handwritten form and check it against the converted text version. This gives them exactly what they wanted – almost instant electronic copies of their work sheets in the original engineers’ handwriting, as well as accurate data with no need for keying in or transcription errors.
With work sheets and recommendations for invoicing and quotations back at head office in almost real time, BDS can now start the invoicing process much more quickly than before – a real boost for cash flow. They’re also able to organise and order extra parts straightaway to reduce waiting time for the client.
Another major advantage for clients is that they can now have instant access, again virtually in real time, to critical information about engineer activity and the servicing of their fire and security systems. This is available via a web portal to their "Leo" service database, which holds and measures agreed KPIs as well as all contract information, worksheets, quotes and other documents.
“We’re very pleased with our quick turn around on invoicing” says Mike Wick, Operations Director for BDS. ”Our clients are also seeing the benefits of having real time information whenever they need it and as a result Destiny pens are now used across the whole ID Fire and Security group.”
Using digital pen technology from Destiny has solved the immediate issue of getting safety-critical information back to base fast, without losing the ability to leave a hard copy with the client. It has given BDS a real competitive advantage - not only by demonstrating that they’re using reliable modern technology, but also by the way that this technology has helped to create industry-leading customer service.

Destiny is the registered trademark for Destiny Wireless, destiny is a global Platinum Partner of Anoto Group AB, one of seven in the world. Destiny owns the IP rights of the Logitech io2 digital pen, making them one of two digital pen manufacturers in the world. Destiny® is aimed at organisations with mobile workforces, looking to get fast returns from high technology at low cost, with little or no training or change to working practices and upfront capital. The Destiny digital pen is based on Anoto Digital Pen and Paper technology and replaces paperwork delays and journeys back to the office with an easy-to-use and energy efficient way of collecting accurate, reliable data from the field and transmitting it back to base in seconds. Destiny's services include digital pens; digitised forms, mobile devices and web-based tools for the efficient collection and management of data from the field, effective job push and allocation, resource management, intelligent scheduling and asset tracking.

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