Ricoh has become a valuable technology partner for us. They understand our business and what we are trying to achieve...
Railtrain streamlines inter-office communications with Ricoh
Railtrain is a specialist provider of rail construction, maintenance and training services to operators across Australia. Established in 2003, the company has more than 300 staff and facilities in every mainland state.
The company’s staff have strong experience with all major Australian rail networks and work with a client base that includes BHP, Rio Tinto, Pacific National and Aurizon. As well as dedicated offices in Perth and Newcastle, the company also operates satellite offices in Brisbane, Mackay and Townsville.
We wanted something that could support our existing operations as well as grow with us in the future.
With staff located around the country, maintaining effective communication is vital. Monthly board meetings, weekly update sessions and day-to-day conversations are vital for the effective functioning of the company.
As operations had grown, company staff had become heavily reliant on an audio conference calling system provided by Telstra. Each time a meeting was needed, staff would dial into a bridge from their location to join the discussion.
“While this had worked well for us over the years, we got to the point where we realised that an alternative had to be found,” says Amanda-Lee McCarthy, Business Improvement Manager, Railtrain. “Our conference call costs were increasing, and we were keen to shift from a reliance on voice-only communication.”
McCarthy says another issue was rising travel costs. Managers would regularly have to travel to and from Perth for meetings which was both expensive and time intensive.
“About 12 months ago, we took the decision to seek out a new communications platform for the company,” McCarthy says. “We wanted something that could support our existing operations as well as grow with us in the future.”
After examining a range of alternatives, a decision was taken to deploy a solution from Ricoh. An 84-inch D8400 Interactive White Board was deployed in the company’s Perth headquarters and a D6510 65-inch model in Newcastle. The IWBs were integrated with Ricoh’s Unified Communication System Advanced (UCSA) video collaboration platform which was rolled out to each of the company’s office locations.
McCarthy says deployment of the new platform was completed within three weeks and staff were quick to take advantage of the new way of interacting. “Having tight integration between the IWBs and the UCSA platform ensured staff could readily use the tools as part of their day-to-day activity. Very little training was required as the interfaces are very intuitive.”
With the new collaboration system fully operational, Railtrain quickly experienced some significant benefits. Audio conference calls were immediately replaced with video interactions, greatly improving the quality of communications.
“So much of human communication happens non-verbally and so it makes a big difference when you can see the person with whom you are talking,” says McCarthy. “We found that staff quickly started having video calls with each other rather than relying on long email exchanges, saving time and creating better end results.”
The IWBs in Perth and Newcastle allow staff in both locations to share everything from meeting agendas and notes to documents and diagrams. Materials displayed on the screens can be annotated by staff with the results automatically captured and digitally stored for later review.
“We are able to have productive meetings between the two locations that simply wouldn’t be possible without the new tools,” says McCarthy. “Meeting participants really feel as though they are sitting in the same room as their colleagues which is fantastic.”
As a result, the company has managed to reduce its travel budget by 30 per cent, which equates to a substantial annual cost saving. Recently the first board meeting was conducted where one member was able to join the meeting in Perth from Queensland.
McCarthy says the IWBs and video conferencing platform also assisted during a recent ISO9001 and AS4801 external audit review. Rather than senior managers needing to travel to Perth, they were able to video conference with the auditor to answer questions and review materials.
“It has really given us significant flexibility and greatly improved the quality of communication across the company,” says McCarthy.
Because the Ricoh UCSA collaboration platform is cloud based, staff can join in meetings from any location, requiring nothing more than a smartphone or tablet device. A virtual meeting room can be created in which people can see the other participants and interact as required.
Railtrain plans to expand the use of this feature and allow larger numbers of staff to join virtual meetings. Eventually, all staff across the company will be able to virtually attend company meetings to hear first-hand about news and announcements.
“Often companies install video conferencing systems and then don’t use them, but we are certainly taking the opposite approach,” says McCarthy. “The IWBs and video conferencing capabilities we now have in place have given us a platform that will effectively support our ongoing growth.”
McCarthy says Railtrain maintains a close working relationship with Ricoh to ensure the new equipment continues to provide the level of performance required.
“Ricoh has become a valuable technology partner for us. They understand our business and what we are trying to achieve through improved collaboration and communication. We look forward to maintaining this relationship in coming years.”