A South Wales engineering firm is bucking an industry-wide trend and reaping the benefits of remote technology – a move which has led to improved business efficiency, reduced costs and a new plan for future growth.
Adoption of remote systems has driven a 30% efficiency saving
The owners of Clearhand Ltd., Engineering Design & Analysis specialists, estimate that the use of cloud technology throughout its operations combined with innovative software sourced from the internet, has driven efficiency savings of more than 30 per cent. The firm is also in the process of enhancing its online presence and developing a digital marketing strategy to increase its exposure to a global client base.
The firm has been trading since April 2014 from Swansea University’s Singleton Campus, after being set up by a duo of mechanical structural engineers. The company provides support to international clients across a range of industries, including aerospace, automotive, manufacturing and construction – uncommon in engineering circles, where businesses have historically aligned themselves with a particular industry.
Switching to the cloud has made things easier
“Traditionally, the engineering industry has tended to be risk averse and quite traditional in its methods of operation,” said Clearhand’s managing director, Dr Daryn Taylor. “Some of our large-scale projects involve the sharing of documents and images between hundreds of engineers. Switching to the cloud has simplified this. Now everyone can access the same document at the same time, share information and make updates online instantaneously, without the need for printing hundreds of copies.”
In his previous role as a chartered engineer at Swansea University, Dr Taylor noticed an opportunity to embrace remote technology within the design engineering market, replacing the often-complex hardware and software interfaces that many clients found over-bearing and confusing. Using software such as file sharing programme, Nextcloud and design platform, Onshape, together with open source (internet-based) software like Ubuntu and Libre Office, Clearhand has developed new ways of working that have proved to be both flexible and effective; there is far less commuting to and from client meetings and home-based working is optimised.
The firm has also been able to provide increased security for its large clients, like Nestle, as files shared via the cloud are encrypted and backed up on its server and can be accessed remotely with password protection.
“It’s a far better, joined-up way of working”
“Sharing remotely through Nextcloud removes a need to print files and avoid potential security breaches. We have clients based across the UK, Europe and further afield, and so now we are enabled to work wherever we are by sharing designs and viewing and storing files through a range of platforms, including mobile phones and tablets. It’s a far better, joined-up way of working.”
Clearhand extended its ‘early-adopter’ mentality into the online marketing arena and sought external support from Superfast Business Wales, attending workshops and accessing one-to-one consultancy support search engine optimisation (SEO) and website design. Visitor numbers to its website have already increased by almost 30 per cent and the firm views the development of its online presence not only as a functional asset to the business itself, but as a ‘shop window’ to new clients from across the world.
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