Case Study

Transnet success with IsoMetrix EHS

In 2010 Mirriam Tenyane, Divisional Executive: Compliance and Regulatory Affairs, at Transnet Engineering, assumed responsibility for standardizing and automating the company’s EHS processes.

This is how they achieved their phenomenal success and rapid return on investment (ROI).

Quick facts

Project length 14 months
Number of users 500
Project cost $230 000
ROI period 2-3 months

The problem

Transnet Engineering consists of eight different business units, which contain 132 depots and six factories spread across South Africa. The different depots and branches had been permitted to develop their own approach to ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001, which diverged significantly over time.

This was done to ensure that each site should be independently ISO-certified. In effect there were around 80 entities that had their own way of working within the standards. This resulted in inconsistencies in practices, confusion, and despondency among the implementers, together with a high number of negative findings during audits.

The solution – Phase 1

Mirriam’s first objective was to standardize the environmental, health and safety (EHS) framework across the organization. This took two years, during which period she invested her time in ascertaining best practice and engaging with stakeholders to ensure their buy-in.

An energetic, passionate person, Mirriam sold the concept internally and cajoled the change-resistant, explaining that standardizing would create a safer environment, and significantly reduce costs. Mirriam understood that getting all business units to work in a uniform way would streamline the external audit process. Her vision was borne out: the costs of external audits over a three-year period dropped from USD 1.6 million to USD 1.2 million.

The solution – Phase 2

The systems remained largely manual, however, and Mirriam’s next focus was to automate the standardized framework Transnet Engineering had developed. Pressing issues included the difficulty in managing historical data, the inability to easily trace the movement of documents, the lack of notifications over expiry dates and actions, and the inability to link documents to the last person to have modified them.

IsoMetrix software was chosen as the preferred solution for automating EHS operations, due to the agility it offered, the strong dashboards, and the fact that it had been successfully rolled out at Transnet Engineering’s sister company, Transnet Freight Rail.

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The return on investment

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After a 14-month project, the official go-live was in June 2014. The benefits of automating were immediately apparent.

Reports that previously took senior staff members days to compile were now available instantly. Dashboards gave a clear visual understanding of trends and exceptions.

One particular dashboard highlighted the extent to which injuries to hands occurred across the organization, a fact that had been rendered invisible under the previous manual systems. Mirriam acted on this insight immediately, through programmes focussed on PPE (personal protective equipment) and training, and was able to bring the occurrence of hand injuries down significantly. In fact, the overall Disabling Injury Frequency Rate (DIFR) had come down from 1.02 per 200 000 hours in 2012 to 0.42 by end of March 2016. Furthermore, there has been an overall decline of 20% in Off Ill cases in the business since 2013.

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One of the biggest areas of cost saving was a further reduction in the cost of external audits, which reduced from $1.2-million over three years to $274 000, a reduction of 77% – based on the centralization and standardization of information across 80 entities.

Improved visibility and access to information has also reduced the effort and time required for internal audits, and greatly reduced the extent of audit findings. Whereas before the implementation of IsoMetrix audit findings stood at 1 500, they now average around 90, an improvement of more than 90%.

The implementation of IsoMetrix software required an investment of around $230 000. If one considers the reduction in audit fees alone, the return on investment period is less than four months. Factoring in other savings, such as reduced time to compile reports, greater efficiencies across the EHS workforce, improved decision making, and lower DIFR, the estimated ROI period is between two and three months.

Says Mirriam: “Simply put, IsoMetrix makes business sense. It has been a great investment. Within Transnet Engineering it goes beyond EHS: we have easily been able to incorporate quality and security as well. It is a true business management solution.”

Since 2016, Transnet continues to see improvements as a result of the initiative and has been recognized for its ongoing commitment to managing risk; most recently winning GCR 20/20’s 2018 Value Award for EH&S solution.”