When time is of the essence
18 December 2020
Today’s business environment is competitive and fast-paced, meaning that efficiency and continued streamlining of operations is vital for organisations to continually be able to deliver value to customers. As has been illustrated during the Covid-19 pandemic, any disruption may also entail far-reaching consequences – for businesses or society as a whole. We had a talk with three SCC members who all in their own way develop technology enabling businesses to easier manage their work, as well as averting unwanted disruptions in a timely manner.
Railway delays, damage to the railway and to railway vehicles can have major consequences and cause significant economic loss to businesses and societies. The three most common faults causing disruption to railways are signal failures, torn down power lines and wheel flats that degrade the track. While technology able to detect the first two mentioned has existed for some time, SCC member Railway Metrics and Dynamics (RMD) have managed to fill a market gap by developing a product that can detect maintenance needs or damage to railway vehicles and railway tracks. “After 7 years of research and development, we are ready to launch the ‘PMU’”, Jan Lindqvist, Director of RMD says. The PMU (Performance Monitoring Unit) is a detector which enables real-time monitoring of damage to locomotives, carriages and rail infrastructure.
Great potential in IoT
The market for Internet of things (IoT)- that is, physical objects equipped with data-collecting sensors and software that can communicate with other devices and systems over the Internet, has grown rapidly in the past decade, and is of interest to anyone working to improve efficiency. “By using IoT-technology, the PMU can promptly warn the train driver if something is wrong; for example oval wheels, solar curves, unstable carriages or derailed carriages. The PMU thus makes wagons and locomotives intelligent via IoT-sensors. “The market for IoT- products is huge and growing very fast. It will make a big impact on society in general. We have new products developed for other market areas as well using similar technology. It’s only the imagination that stops the development of new products in this area”, Jan explains.
SCC member and terminal developer TimeTerminal also sees great potential in the use of IoT-technology. “Due to Sweden’s early adoption of high-speed internet, our products have already been web-based for twenty years and therefore interconnected to many cloud-based applications. The potential of 5G will complement the need for traditional ethernet or cabled internet by increasing M2M (Machine- to-machine) connectivity, coverage and with super-fast data speeds,” says Dirk Lüders, Director Global Partnerships at TimeTerminal.
TimeTerminal develops terminals for businesses of all sizes, across all commercial industries and sectors. Its products provide the clients with a precise view of their workforce planning to optimise scheduling, cost control, payroll obligations and liquidity- making workforce management more convenient and less costly. ‘We design, engineer and produce touch screen terminals compatible with high-performance web-based WorkForce Management (WFM), HR and payroll solutions,” Dirk says.
Making money out of time
TimeApp, a developer and supplier of a resource management system that is provided as SaaS (Software as a Service) is all about streamlining their clients’ operations. “By gaining control and oversight of resources any organisation can get more efficient and effective. And for anyone that charges for time, a tool that manages your time and makes invoices out of it saves a lot of time and money. With useful functions, such as automatic travel log by GPS, a stopwatch that creates time reports, and heaps of administrative functions, we strive to save time for our clients not only by giving them control and oversight but also by giving them efficient tools so the control and oversight don’t become an investment and a hassle for the staff. Our motto is ‘making money out of time’ and that’s the essential value of our products,” Stefan Olsson, Systems Architect at TimeApp says.
Products in demand all over the world
Apart from different technical requirements, none of the three businesses sees any major hindrance to introducing their products to the UK market. “The main value created of our products is in demand all over the world. Every organisation gains from good time- and resource management. The main difference between the Swedish and UK markets is laws, rules and regulations regarding invoices and bookkeeping, which is at the very end of our reach. Our most immediate adaptation to the UK market is to exclude the functions that are specific to the Swedish market and improve the functionality to export data to invoicing and bookkeeping systems used on the UK market. In the long run, we’ll listen to our users and if they want us to create full invoicing functionality on the UK market then we’ll make sure they get it”, Stefan says. Dirk agrees and adds: “Currently, our biggest challenges are to get clarity concerning what happens after the Brexit transition period ends, as well as the fact that Covid makes it difficult for businesses to plan for their future. The SCC has been a great support in providing webinars to help clear the fog around these subjects.”
Bright future for time-saving technology
All three businesses declare that they’ve been experiencing relatively little disruption due to the pandemic. “Apart from having less personal meetings and trade shows, we haven’t been affected much. It has slowed down our UK market entrance a bit, but we are planning on entering during the spring of 2021,” Jan says. “One of the benefits of being a small company in an ever-changing industry is that we’re well equipped to handle change. Now, when the dust of the initial chaos has settled, we can say that we’re not directly hurt by the pandemic,” Stefan says. “Instead, we’ve noticed that the need for time management has gone up as an effect of the fact that more organisations implement a work-from-home policy, so our sales have actually gone up during this time. We’re in the middle of some pretty big changes and are planning to enter the UK market in the not too distant future,” he adds. “Outside of the Nordics, until infection rates are stabilised or vaccines approved, with our partners we have developed next-gen solutions in readiness for when business takes off again. Meanwhile, after 40 years as TimeTerminal, we are also rebranding” Dirk says. “We will shortly be ‘Brightec’, a name that better sums up our outlook for the future.”