When brothers Rhys and Jason Scott bought a fertiliser spreading business to expand the range of contracting services they offer their customers, they acquired a TracMap unit along with the spreading units.
They quickly got up to speed with the mapping, guidance and job allocation capabilities TracMap offers to a spreading operation but since then they have realised that the technology can make all aspects of their business more efficient.
Rhys doesn’t know exactly when their father Bernard started Scott’s Ag Contracting in the Wairarapa but he suspects it was about 30 years ago. Now Rhys and Jason run the business, which has 18 vehicles. They recently purchased Smith’s Spreading to add fertiliser spreading to their other services.
Having started his contracting career driving at age 17, it’s been a big transition for Rhys to move into the office and manage the business.
“Going into the family business was a great excuse to leave school,” Rhys says. “The driving was great fun and relatively easy to do but this move into the office has been a real eye-opener.”
It was quite a change to be managing things happening in the field from behind a computer in an office.
“I didn’t appreciate how much juggling and organising was involved until I started doing it myself. During peak season there is virtually no room for error. We can’t put the silage off till tomorrow if the tractor breaks down, so we have to know our vehicle maintenance is up to date and avoid as much of this inconvenience as possible.”
Working in such a time critical business means that Scott’s Ag Contracting has to have systems that are flexible to adapt to last minute changes but robust enough to avoid mistakes. To combat these logistical challenges, the Scott brothers have turned to technology.
The guys inherited a TracMap system when they took over Smith Spreading, and they soon mastered how to use it, the more it was going to benefit the business.
The TracMap system now helps them job allocate all of their contracting jobs. Before that they had to manage multiple drivers who were on multiple shifts, working on different farms and doing different jobs. It was a lot to keep in their heads.
“Being able to go to one screen and see where all our trucks or tractors are at any one time gives us confidence,” Rhys says.
It means they are able to know exactly how far through a job their drivers are, or for example, whether they have run out of seed. This way they can run their vehicles efficiently.
“Being able to allocate jobs to machines is fantastic. I know exactly which machine is going to be where, at any time, and how long that job will take them. It means I can more accurately schedule in the next job.”
“We have a lot of jobs coming through our office, and we now have a system that captures all of them so nothing is forgotten or lost. I can take a day off and know it’s not all going to fall over because I am the only one who knows what jobs need doing.”
“We looked around at other systems but we couldn’t find anything that was as suitable for us. TracMap is just built for what we do. Our drivers want to see maps, and they want to read hectares, not generic quality. TracMap speaks our language.”
But technology doesn’t run itself, and Rhys has had to immerse himself in the tools of the trade to really get things working for them correctly, and they admit there is still a long way to go.
“We haven’t really touched the surface in all that TracMap can offer our business but every day we are learning more. Our local area manager, Douglas Carr has been great at showing us new ways to use the system. He knows to provide knowledge about the system in bits so we can get one skill sorted before we move to the next,” Rhys says.
For the Scott brothers this was a big investment for their business. Now with the business future proofed, the guys are focusing on using more of the system’s capability to get even greater gains for the bottom line.
In addition to increasing the efficiency of their crew, early wins have come from the knowledge that the data is completely accurate as there are no handwriting errors to try and translate, and the data comes back to the office so much quicker. “Even quicker than their job sheets,” Rhys says.
Why would Rhys recommend the system to others? “I have already. It’s been the right decision for us, and I think it will benefit other businesses just like ours. Growing our business is the easy part, but maintaining that growth is where it becomes a challenge. Our systems have to be good, so we had to take that technology step do that.”