Environment & Sustainability, Occupational Safety

Digitalizing an integrated management system

hanseWasser Bremen GmbH

Always stay above water

Can you maintain an integrated management system but taking a siloed approach to digitalization challenges, such as online training? It's better not to, especially if you look at the successful example of hanseWasser, a German wastewater company.

In 2020, a technical department of hanseWasser first expressed a need for e-learning software. It quickly became clear that the required digitalization project wouldn't be limited to just one department or to the area of online training. hanseWasser convened a project group consisting of experts in IT, occupational safety, organization, and legal compliance, who compiled a list of critical, cross-company digitalization topics. At the top of the list were risk assessments, operating instructions, and the hazardous chemicals register. Looking ahead, the project group recommended ensuring that various other facets of the company's integrated management system, such as certifications and commissioning, could be supported and seamlessly integrated into a single software system.

Outsiders might see this as a search for a one-size-fits-all solution. However, the experts at hanseWasser knew that a solution already existed in the form of Quentic, which had proven itself in numerous other utilities and waste management companies.

We operate an integrated management system that brings together the requirements of various standards and generates synergies. Of course, in our digitalization journey, we would never consider relying on different, isolated solutions that lack integration. Quentic is the only software that aligns with our integrated approach and meets all our requirements.

Tanja Schmellenkamp-Winter, Organization and Legal Compliance at hanseWasser Bremen GmbH

About hanseWasser

hanseWasser oversees the public sewage network in Bremen, a city in northern Germany, and ensures the safe and environmentally friendly disposal of wastewater. In addition to inspecting, maintaining, and renovating the network, they treat over 50 cubic meters of wastewater per year in two wastewater treatment plants, one of which is one of the few carbon-neutral plants in Germany.

Driven by sustainability, hanseWasser is committed to providing a safe and cost-effective wastewater collection and treatment process while maintaining the highest environmental standards. This commitment is upheld at a management level through an integrated management system covering quality, environment, sustainability, occupational health and safety, and information security policies. hanseWasser is certified according to ISO 9001, 14001, and 45001, in addition to the EMAS and QLA quality seal and is recognized as a specialist in waste management.

E-Learning: From global trend to everyday reality

The wastewater industry is highly specialized, which underscores the need for employees to be well prepared at all times. At hanseWasser, regular training is essential, whether it is to maintain quality standards or to comply with specific regulations such as ISO 9001, 14001, 45001, or EMAS. When the technical department “Network Operation, Service, and Disposal” came up with the demand for an e-learning platform, Tanja Schmellenkamp-Winter was quick to jump on board. She is in charge of organizational and legal compliance, and coordinates and designs measures and standards to ensure a legally compliant organization and practical training systems. Despite three decades at hanseWasser, her motto remains: “Change is welcome. Especially in the field of digitalization, staying up to date is vital.”

Today, thanks to a pilot project, much has changed for the 70 employees in the “Network Operation, Service, and Disposal” department. The days of using spreadsheets to record only the date and time of training sessions, along with the associated opaque and disjointed training materials resulting from inconsistent or duplicate training presentations, are now a thing of the past. A range of online training and instructional materials are now available in Quentic in areas such as compliance, hazardous substances, RSA 21, industrial trucks, and overhead cranes, effectively supplementing legally required in-person training sessions. Qualifications obtained in Quentic always include an associated validity period, which is visible in the qualification plan for supervisors, who receive timely reminders to initiate renewals.

With the Quentic 'Online Instructions' module, we empower our employees to engage in digital learning at their own pace. The qualification matrix in the 'Health and Safety' module consolidates all information about online or in-person training. This allows us to demonstrate at any time that our employees have received comprehensive and legally compliant instruction.

Tanja Schmellenkamp-Winter, Organization and Legal Compliance at hanseWasser Bremen GmbH

Once the pilot project was completed, the synergies for other departments quickly became apparent. In the past, each supervisor would create their own training content, but now much of the content is readily available in Quentic, eliminating redundancy and facilitating the adoption of best practices. For example, trainings and comprehension questions that emerged during the pilot project for industrial trucks can now be used across all departments. This hands-on approach increases enthusiasm for implementing the software.

Getting contractors into the flow

Today, the impact of online training goes beyond hanseWasser’s internal processes and extends to contractor management. In the past, all companies working with hanseWasser were invited to attend on-site training to ensure the transfer of knowledge to their employees. Subsequently, the hanseWasser team responsible for supervision would receive a list of participants detailing which employees from external companies had been trained. This information was then manually entered into a spreadsheet, accessible to all relevant parties.

“The feedback from our contractors has been outstanding,” reports Tanja Schmellenkamp-Winter. Their employees are notified of the required training well in advance, so they can complete it at their own pace long before they start working on-site. They also have the option of using a tablet provided at our gatekeeper's station for on-site catch-up training or simply scanning a QR code with their own device, which directs them to the Quentic training system. Once all the necessary qualifications are in place, the gatekeeper can quickly grant access to the contractors.

Refining risk assessments through streamlined digital processes

Previously, for each risk assessment, managers had to make appointments with the occupational safety specialist and working together to complete the necessary documents. Today, we store all risk assessments as templates in Quentic and can generate the necessary documents with just a few clicks. If any additional support from the occupational safety specialist is still needed, it is documented as “created with participation from ...”.

Saving up to 75% of time creating operating instructions

Gone are the days when operating instructions had to be painstakingly created in text files. Not only did all the text have to be manually inserted and adjusted in the respective documents, but all the corresponding pictograms also had to be searched for individually. In Quentic, these pictograms are readily available and inserted automatically, just as the information from the risk assessments is seamlessly transferred.

In the past, it took an average of one hour to create operating instructions - today, using the Quentic software, we only need about 15 minutes.

Tanja Schmellenkamp-Winter, Organization and Legal Compliance at hanseWasser Bremen GmbH

Chemical inventory and safety data sheets always under control

When it comes to managing hazardous chemicals, moving away from siloed solutions like table-based applications is a huge relief. Why?

"Maintaining and updating Excel spreadsheets with links to safety data sheets and overarching elements is typically time consuming. With Quentic, you get a much better overview of ingredients, hazards, environmental impacts, and more. Currently at hanseWasser, all safety data sheets are seamlessly integrated into the software. Future regulatory changes will no longer requite manual updates, link creation, or email requests to supervisors to check the impact of these changes on their area of responsibility, potentially requiring adjustments to the risk assessments. Quentic automates this process, saving significant time and ensuring regulatory compliance at all times."

One system – one solution: Integrated thinking from A to Z

When hanseWasser chose Quentic, the enthusiastic feedback from other utilities and waste management companies was a important factor, but what really sealed the deal was the fact that all aspects of the integrated management system can be managed in interlinked modules.

In addition to major topics such as training, instruction, risk assessments, and hazardous chemicals, it's the small details that add significant added value. The requirements of the chapter "Context of the Organization," which is part of the harmonized structure in all ISO standards, can be mapped in Quentic through an interface with HR software. In the context of ISO 45001, this has an additional advantage: All officers responsible for tasks such as crane operation or first aid are assigned these roles via the software's job function, making them easily identifiable and enabling them to be assigned appropriate responsibilities.

At hanseWasser, the integrated management system undergoes internal and external integrated audits. During the most recent certification, the auditor was already able to directly access certain certificates and the training plan within Quentic. "Looking ahead, our plan is to document audit findings and actions in Quentic and assign them to the responsible parties. The entire audit process, whether internal or external, will then take place within the Quentic 'Risk & Audits' module, providing us with improved oversight and reliability," Tanja Schmellenkamp-Winter reports enthusiastically.

With Quentic, we can now digitalize a substantial portion of the complexity and synergies within our Integrated Management System. Centralized data storage, streamlined optimization of individual workflows, seamless documentation, and the integration of various modules empower us to work efficiently and in compliance with regulations.

Tanja Schmellenkamp-Winter, Organization and Legal Compliance at hanseWasser Bremen GmbH

Change management with Quentic consultants und mentors

During the initial implementation of the software solution, Quentic consultants played an indispensable role. These experienced professionals have helped many companies with similar implementations, providing in-depth insight and guidance on everything from training employees to making critical decisions such as automating the import of safety data sheets, contributing to the successful implementation.

After this crucial initial phase, new change management champions emerge: the Quentic mentors. These tech-savvy individuals, primarily from the pilot phase, recognized the value of Quentic early on. They will continue to support and inspire their colleagues in the future.

What hanseWasser especially values about Quentic:

  • Versatile modules for the complex requirements of ISO standards

  • Synergies between the modules, ideal for integrated management systems

  • User-friendly and fast workflows, especially for creating risk assessments and operating instructions

  • Multimedia e-learning module with integration into the qualification matrix and support for contractor training

  • Transparent function assignment in the digital organizational chart and linking of all data and stakeholders

Success Story hanseWasser

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