Date: 2012-06-06 Category: Interviews
Interview: Nick Beckett of RNA Plant Ltd
ITWales brings you an exclusive interview with Finance Director of RNA Plant Ltd, Nick Beckett. We find out how his company has embraced technology to meet industry demand and what made the company engage with Software Alliance Wales.
What’s the history of the company?
RNA Plant Ltd was founded in 1991 by Neil Armstrong with one second hand road sweeping machine. The company has grown steadily becoming incorporated in 2003. We now operate a fleet of 10 road sweepers, 3 cold milling machines, 4 tipper lorries and employs 25 people.
What unique products/services does your company provide?
RNA provides road sweeping and road planing services to local authorities, civil engineers, builders and other companies. We also are a Jaupt accredited training centre offering HGV driver Certificate of Professional Competence training.
What’s been the key to RNA Plant’s success?
The company’s growth has been based on a bedrock of quality, customer service and innovation.
What is your IT background and what were you doing before RNA Plant?
Throughout my working life I have worked with and managed the IT systems of the companies I worked for. In 2002 I completed my degree in computing with the Open University. Before joining RNA I ran my own IT consultancy business and managed, finance HR and compliance for my wife’s nursery business.
What made you engage with Software Alliance Wales and how has the student project scheme benefited your company?
Being a relatively recent graduate I was committed to the principle of continuous professional development and networking with other likeminded people. RNA has had a long association with the University of Wales Swansea and we are convinced that this interaction can generate new ideas for solutions to business problems.
What one piece of technology (software/hardware/other) has benefited your company most?
In 2003, the company became convinced that adoption of an IT system to control work would allow us to be more efficient. Specifically we wanted to collect signatures digitally and get rid of paper timesheets. We were unable to buy a suitable system ‘of the shelf’ so with the help of the university and the SMARTCymru scheme we set up Symltech Ltd in a joint venture with Gerhard Manogg and Mike Bews of Imagitech Ltd. Symltech went on to develop the Glimpse remote worker management system we now use in RNA. This system has been integral to our growth and helping us survive the sharp downturn in 2008/2009.
If you haven’t already answered this in your previous question, can you tell us about your tracking application Glimpse? Am I right that you are now working on developing an Android version?
Glimpse is a remote worker management system that centres around a gantt style view of work to be completed by the company’s operatives. The system allows jobs to be sent out to PDAs in displays job status and location details in real time. Signatures are collected by operatives on the devices and sent back to the office for billing.
The mobile component of Glimpse was originally developed for Windows Mobile 2003 and has been upgraded for the latest version WM6.5. However, windows mobile devices have always been expensive and compared to the current crop of android smart phones, under-powered. We are developing an Android mobile client and an iOS version to utilise the very latest technology available.
How has your business changed in recent years because of advances in technology and where do you see it going in the next couple?
RNA has always been an early adopter of technology from the plant and equipment we use to websites, smart phones and satellite tracking. We expect technology to become even more embedded in our business. This will continue to improve the way we manage and communicate with our employees, customers and other stakeholders.