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Success Stories

Cairns Industries: Often off site, always online

Carey Swan
Smarter Writer

Carey Swan is a writer and sub-editor with an interest in popular culture and stories people tell. Her industry experience spans more than 25 years

Carey Swan
Smarter Writer

Carey Swan is a writer and sub-editor with an interest in popular culture and stories people tell. Her industry experience spans more than 25 years

  • Cairns Industries is a construction services company specialising in movable concrete plants that owners Kym and Shaun Cairns started from an old silver bullet caravan in Borroloola (970km south-east of Darwin) nine years ago.
  • With 33 off-site workers, the company needed to manage communications in the field and at its two offices.
  • Now it plans to switch more of its processes to be app-based for efficiency and responsiveness in the field.

When Kym Cairns is asked how companies like Cairns Industries might have coped before the advent of mobile phone networks she says it’s simply beyond her comprehension.

Cairns Industries mainly operates in a regional part of Australia’s Northern Territory, often setting up its own encampment, where many of its employees are housed, fed and “mothered” in a way that one can only imagine is reminiscent of a simpler time.

kym and shaun cairns
You can see it all there, including the shared calls and data across our mobiles, and having just one bill to pay every month is definitely a bonus.

- Kym Cairns, Cairns Industries
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The business would struggle to operate smoothly without its Telstra mobile fleet, admits Kym. In fact, when the company takes on contractors from urban areas she recommends that Telstra is the best option if they want coverage in more places.

Kym says that Shaun spends 75 per cent of his time on the phone and a large chunk of that is devoted to keeping in touch with workers in the field, explaining the work they need to do and arranging delivery of any extra equipment or materials they need.

Connecting multiple work sites

While important on their own, the time management improvements of mobility have rapidly surpassed common logistical hiccups. Field staff regularly use their mobiles to take pictures of parts that have failed and transmit them back to base, thus ensuring less down-time for vehicles and equipment.

Similarly, when the company took on a job with the Northern Territory Department of Construction demonstrating progress to the client became easier.“

They can’t just pop down the road and have a look at how it’s going, so they’re relying on us to take photos and show them how it’s going,” Kym says. “Even a simple thing, like being able to send an email from our mobiles or tablets, makes us more available – we pride ourselves on the fact that we do respond very quickly to all of our clients.”

Bundling for cost efficiencies

Just trying to manage who to compensate for mobile service used to be hard to juggle. While paying for workers’ phones was a big step, Cairns Industries soon found it could better monitor costs by consolidating all of its communications onto a single bill and provisioning those services according to the needs of individual workers.

For example, workers that use their phones a lot have Telstra Business Mobile Advantage plans with unlimited national calls, SMS (text messages) and MMS (multimedia messages) to standard Australian numbers. Those services also have monthly data allowances that can be shared with other Mobile Advantage plan services on the same account.

“Now that we have so many mobiles, and we’ve got a number of our employees with mobile phones that we pay for, having them all on a single bill makes it a lot easier to keep track of their estimated usage,” says Kym.

“You can see it all there, including the shared calls and data across our mobiles, and having just one bill to pay every month is definitely a bonus.”

Cairns Industries is now actively taking steps to extract the more sophisticated advantages of mobile working. Kym, Shaun and his father recently started using tablets and business apps to manage accounting and time sheets ahead of a wider deployment to the company’s staff. Each tablet is on a Telstra Mobile Business Share Member plan with 4GB monthly data allowance that can be shared with the other tablets on the same account.

“Before, we had to lug around laptops, which took a while to fire up and get online. Now we’re using Xero online accounting software on our tablets [connected to the Telstra Mobile Network] it’s a lot easier to manage our finances when we’re away,” enthuses Kym. “Say we’re at a conference or visiting family in Brisbane, we can quickly get a tablet out and know how our business is at the click of button – it’s just a much better way of working.”

Insights from Telstra's Director of Business Mobility 

Tim Webber notes that tradies were some of the earliest adopters of mobile technologies – and business owners like Kym and Shaun Cairns constantly rely on reliable mobile coverage to help them manage multiple workers doing multiple jobs on the go. “Now managers are doing a lot more than checking in with their teams on their mobiles,” says Tim.

“They’re streamlining important day-to-day management tasks by taking them out of the office and into the field, such as processing time sheets, payroll and invoicing with apps like Xero on their tablets.” “Good coverage on the Telstra Mobile Network means they can be more responsive to their employees and their customers.”

Watch this: 

See how business apps make field workers more productive for a plumbing and electrical business here.

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