Wincanton
Case Study

Wincanton uses Soter AI-ergonomic sensors resulting in 250 days of no lost time injuries

General information

In this success story, we share how Wincanton plc, a leading supply chain partner for British businesses, greatly improved their manual handling safety with the promotion of a personalised, wearable technology training program from Soter Analytics, delivered through its W2 Labs Innovation Programme.

The team took advantage of using the Soter wearable devices, and the data they provide, to reduce injury risk and associated costs, create a positive, ‘safe movement’ culture, and establish new ways of engaging their workers in safety.

Wincanton recognized an opportunity to improve and drive innovation in their safety processes and the SoterCoach program filled this, providing scalable manual handling safety training and continuous monitoring of safety required for large, dispersed environments.

Client

Wincanton, a leading supply chain partner for British businesses, is a safety-first business, with people their top priority.

The company takes a collaborative approach to building a team environment that supports innovation, develops fit-for-purpose and sustainable solutions, and delivers results. They assess hazards effectively, make informed, intelligent plans and prepare for all eventualities to keep everyone safe.

This contributes to a business that offers people a great place to work and a culture that supports individual and business success.

challenge

The Wincanton retail warehouse operation is primarily responsible for the pick, pack and dispatch of household, and other ‘awkward’ products directly to the end customer.

20% of all products ranged and delivered are above 15kgs. These products comprise 19% of the lifts that are performed by colleagues across the operation.

Musculoskeletal activity is the 4th highest hazard within the operation.

As part of their safety processes, Wincanton wanted to be able to give movement training to colleagues whilst on the job so they could learn how they were moving whilst working rather than only in a classroom setting. They needed to find a solution that was personal and allowed workers to oversee their own safety.

Furthermore, new starter adherence was reliant on shift coaches and the large numbers of new starters along with a very large, dispersed site, (around 1 million sq/ft of warehousing split over 4 units on 2 million sq/ft), presented an opportunity to enhance the shift coach’s role with use of personalized technology.

There was a significant need for formalised continual checking of adherence to manual handling and the challenge was to find a solution that:

- Was scalable;

- Gave workers the individual training they needed to move safely - on the job;

- Incited permanent behavioural change;

- Provided formalised monitoring, coaching and support to assess compliance with Manual handling training for: new starters, colleagues returning after an incident or injury, colleagues recommencing work after a performance management issue related to manual handling compliance, all colleagues at random points across the year.

The SoterCoach Program

The solution comprised clip-on sensors that were affixed to the colleague’s hi-vis vest and provided feedback and data that trainers, coaches, and line managers at Wincanton used to appraise the colleague’s technique.

These sensors were issued to each colleague, and linked to their performance, using a tablet PC in the SoterCoach docking hub, which also charged the units (each has a 30-day lifespan before requiring a full recharge).

The behavioural change aspect of the sensors’ real-time biofeedback encouraged each worker to internally learn new and correct movement patterns, altering neuromuscular pathways resulting in permanent change.

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The Implementation Strategy

Wincanton deployed a soft launch approach to the implementation which resulted in high engagement.

A collection of hand-picked colleagues and safety professionals across the operation were chosen to introduce the technology to a wider audience. This allowed them to speak from a position of experience to colleagues about how it worked, the information they would receive and how it had personally helped them across the 2 weeks.

The Obstacles

Typical colleague concerns when introducing technology and devices such as SoterCoach includes:

- Using them as a GPS tracker to see where they were on site;

- Tracking them for performance management;

- Using the data to manage those not improving their results.

To overcome this, Wincanton worked with Soter to clearly understand the sensors and eliminated the use of words like ‘tracker’ or ‘monitoring’ to remove any uncertainty.

Wincanton used information presentations from Soter to explain what applications the technology contained and how the devices were there to support the workers, giving ‘them’, information and coaching on how to move safely.

They used examples and compared the devices to a FitBit or Apple Watch that would give them not only data on how they are moving but teach them to move correctly and get to know their body more to stay safe.

The Impact

The data collected has been used to provide support and retraining to those colleagues in high-risk groups and easily spot areas in the business that are unsafe and need to be reviewed.

One colleague discussed how personal the technology was to them and indicated that it was a good sign of how Wincanton invested in technology to make their job safer.

Colleagues were unanimous in how easy it was to use and how straightforward and unobtrusive the devices were.

THE RESULT

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The Outcome

Today the Soter devices are used across eight operations at Wincanton and has delivered a 30% reduction in Spine Hazards per Hour, reducing incidences of poor bending, back twisting, and repetitive movements for colleagues in the warehouse.

Wincanton will continue to use the devices, implementing the program into safety processes and have colleagues participate every six months to sustain their improved manual handling postures and stay injury-free.

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