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“I’m not a first adopter, but if I'm adopting ahead of the rest of my industry, I'm well ahead of the game.”
“For Auger Torque, having a global collaborative team is hugely reducing the R&D time, getting the right product to market faster and stopping us wasting time. With the new optimised process the’re keeping momentum and getting the buy-in from everybody, ensuring all teams have insight into the design, replacing the linear process we had before. “
Auger Torque recognises an opportunity in digital for their R&D process
Auger Torque, a leader in the earth drill and attachment market, has always put customer needs at the centre of everything they do, ensuring to provide unrivalled reliability and cost-effective operation. Therefore, when the company experienced challenges with the research and development (R&D) process, they embarked on a journey to improve the efficiency between the interaction points.
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Alistair Brydon, MD at Auger Torque Europe Ltd, commented, “We experienced a lot of the challenges with the logistics, finance and the reporting functions. Additionally, each of our sites has acted like a small business on its own, and keeping projects on track globally has been one of our biggest challenges.”
“A good example is when we were designing a new product for the Australian market. Although the design team and an R&D facility were based in the UK, we worked with the guys in Australia and engineers in China where the product was manufactured. The challenge was to communicate effectively across the time zones, and up until we started working with Xperience, this has been quite a linear process.
“Once the design has been done and finished from an engineering viewpoint in the UK, it was sent to China, but the cost wasn’t right for the market. When this was rectified, there would be a problem with the Australian market. We’d go round in circles trying to get the right product for the right price, that the customer really wants to buy. This could have lasted up to two years and would result in the loss of enthusiasm of the team and the momentum in that process.”
“Ultimately, we needed to speed that process up, and allow people to working concurrently on the drawings between the UK and China, keeping them up to date, with version control.”
Auger Torque drives R&D efficiency for its global operation
Digital technologies have helped the way businesses communicate and deliver their products and services to customers. For Auger Torque that meant changing the traditional way of operating by leveraging multi-channel interactive communication tools within the workforce for productivity gains and customer satisfaction.
Alistair explained, “Traditionally, each company had its own system and their own stock, and we didn’t have this global overview. Whereas now, everybody has visibility of the stock globally and we can move a product swiftly to satisfy customer demands. Being able to bring everything together with real-time overview has massively improved our working capital”
“What is more, having a global collaborative team is hugely reducing the R&D time, getting the right product to market faster and stopping us wasting time.”
“With the new optimised process we’re keeping momentum and getting the buy-in from everybody. Employees are engaged from early on in the process and able to provide feedback and, at the same time ensuring all teams have insight into the design, replacing the linear process we had before. “
Listen to the podcast here.
Microsoft 365 tools brings the company together
Microsoft 365 allowed Auger Torgue to create productive, aligned teams and engage employees with leadership and the organization as a whole.
Alistair commented, “Microsoft 365 is a type of system where people want to educate themselves and learn the new features really quickly. We started using it about four years ago, and all the employees have found their ways of working efficiently. “
“Not only do Microsoft tools allow us to be more connected, but also open about business performance. We’ve spent a lot of time developing Power BI for people to see what makes the business tick. Whether it is order status, sales figures or cash flow, we immediately see any issues to take action. I’m very keen on developing that openness, so people really understand what matters.”
“The messaging and conferencing tools make conversations less formal than an email, because you can infer a tone when it’s not necessarily there.”
“I’ve also found it really useful that you can just put a thumbs up on a message which means you’ve read it, without needing to send a nice constructed sentence back on an email which takes time. If you’d asked me two years ago, I’d have said it was just something my teenage kids did. And you can inject a little bit of fun into the day as well, it doesn’t have to be all serious.”
“Something that happened organically is the impact on the company culture. If it’s somebody’s birthday in Australia, then there is a global message on Teams, with people in UK or China joining in to wish them happy birthday. Ultimately, during the pandemic, with people working from home, Teams has enabled everyone to feel connected. “
The impact of the pandemic on the business
Achieving more together and the collective success depends on the ability to maximize employee productivity, and that has never been more important than during the last year. During the pandemic Auger Torque improved collaboration to keep employees productive and engaged throughout their workdays.
Alistair explained, “Since the pandemic we’ve been having our daily check-in meetings, which have very much become data-driven. It’s enabled the communication to be much better in the business than it ever was before, when everyone was on site.
“Microsoft Teams video conferencing tools have been invaluable during the past year. With screen sharing facility, we have been able to work efficiently across all the locations. Because everyone is working from home, we have been able to overcome the time differences and facilitate online meetings. And because people can access it on their phones, they are quite happy just to take half an hour to join a meeting in the evening. It isn’t Interrupting their whole day, they’re not getting their laptop out.”
“Commercially for the business last year has been quite successful. We’ve had very strong sales. The challenge was really been about supporting customers quick enough. In terms of our sales team, it was getting the phone systems working offsite, which meant a move into Teams basically.”
“We’ve also had to do a lot to protect our staff that have to work on site, including the guys in the workshop, the fabrication people. We issued them Teams calling on their handset, so they didn’t need to share devices.”
“Although I think those kinds of gains were forced upon us by the pandemic, they are going to be with us forever. If the person is not working for home, but they’re on site, it’s still going to be quicker for somebody in the warehouse just to call them up on their phone.”
Listen to the podcast here.
The future of Auger Torque
By definition, organisations that achieve business transformation are usually open to significant new opportunities for growth. New technologies are constantly redefining products and services, blurring industry boundaries and creating entirely new sets of non-traditional competitors. As a result, it may harm your business if you stay behind.
Alistair explained, “In terms of where we’re going, I keep quite an open mind to it. We haven’t got a grand plan, and we’re following where Teams and any other technology takes us. The area we need to invest in are our switches and infrastructure. We rely on Xperience and trust them to tell us this is what you need to do to invest for the next few years of what may come down the road, and keeping us ahead of the game”
“And the other good example, is going paperless. We’ve spent a number of years investing in add-ons to Sage 200 to get away from printing. And culturally, that was a really hard shift for people, particularly in the finance. They like that physical bit of paper. But almost within a week of the whole finance team having to work from home, that spindle system was fully utilized and up and running. Last week we threw out our remaining filing cabinets.”
“What I would recommend to other business? Don’t have a three-year plan for what you want to do, and learn from what other people in different industries do. So, we started with Microsoft 365 and using Teams because at the time, my sister who worked in a startup company in Soho, in London was using those tools and been very happy with the system, recommending it to me.”
“I’m not a first adopter, but if I’m adopting ahead of the rest of my industry, being well ahead of the game.”