Thomas Ridley is one of the UK’s leading wholesalers for the catering industry, providing a comprehensive food delivery and food service solution to a wide range of customers across the public and private sectors, both locally and nationally.
The company have been a Tensor customer for more than thirteen years. Tensor products have helped them manage the 90 office staff and 150 warehouse staff working on their premises at the company’s main site located in Bury St Edmunds.
Hardware-wise, the Tensor system comprises multiple T32xx clocking stations, accompanied by T14xx smart card readers for access control, as well as a number of biometric fingerprint readers. Tensor plc holds the Made in Britain marque, representing a standard of quality and unity for the British manufacturing sector.
In early 2020, the company reviewed their existing Tensor system and decided that a major software upgrade was required. Tim Graham, IT Systems Engineer, explained that the company wanted to “upgrade to the latest generation version of the Tensor.NET software to maximise system capabilities and take advantage of new features. The old Tensor software had served us well, but it was time to upgrade.”
The upgrade was conducted by Tensor’s Systems Department engineers and was completed without major problems and with little disruption to the company’s daily operations.
Following the upgrade, Tensor trainers taught members of the Thomas Ridley staff – including Tim as well as the warehouse duty manager and office administrator – to use their new software. Adhering to best practise during the COVID-19 pandemic, the training used Tensor’s remote webinar learning system.
Asked to comment on the quality of the training, Tim described it as “useful and good quality. The trainer was very knowledgeable and able to answer all our queries about using the programs.”
Which Tensor features do Thomas Ridley find particularly useful?
Tim mentioned the following:
- Clocking in and out with Tensor smartcards
These credit-card sized radio-frequency cards are easy to carry around – highly resistant to wear and tear or water damage. The card readers work from a distance, so the user does not even need to get the smartcard out of their wallet, bag or lanyard. It simply needs to be within the near vicinity of the reader.
Tensor smartcard technology is safe and secure, with two-factor authentication and duress codes that add an extra layer of security.
This contactless clocking strategy is particularly effective for preserving hand hygiene, whether that be to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic or Thomas Ridley’s existing needs within the food provision industry.
- Quick, efficient and reliable holiday booking using employee mobile phones
The Tensor Self-Service Module (SSM) is accessible directly from a browser or mobile phone. Holiday booking and authorisation via the SSM is incredibly simple and user-friendly. This function eliminates any need for cumbersome holiday booking forms.
Employees can clock themselves in/out via SSM from wherever they are working; also to register themselves on/off individual jobs within the same clocking session. This is ideal for the attendance management and job costing of a workforce suddenly driven from the office by COVID-19.
- Recording dates of employee training and fleet MOTs
Forget about fiddly filing cabinets; secure mass storage of employee information is simple and secure using the flexible HR module. It provides streamlined and abundant document storage, with customisable input tables and in-built report wizards to aid data reporting.
Is the Tensor.NET software user-friendly?
Tim certainly seemed to think so. He told the Tensor reporter: “The Tensor.NET system is easy to use after a short learning period. The interface is clear and well laid out.”
Asked to describe what the main operational improvements were of the updated Tensor system, Tim highlighted, “Efficiency in people management, particularly the elimination of the need for paper timesheets and holiday forms.”
Thomas Ridley also makes use of the ‘Fire Roll Call’ system within Tensor.NET. Here, a quick, accurate, and reliable roll-call is produced upon automatic activation from the fire alarm panel. The automatic roll-call reports are printed or sent to the mobile phone based Fire Roll Call app (Tensor FRC) so that Administrators can tick-off employees at specific fire assembly points, removing them from the fire roll-call list in real-time.
The Fire Roll Call includes those often overlooked in roll calls, such visitors in meetings or contract cleaners – which is very important for Thomas Ridley: “Fire drill roll call and the overall ability to identify which members of staff are on-site is of utmost important – and Tensor helps us do this,” Tim told the Tensor reporter.
Is Thomas Ridley looking to add any more features to their already comprehensive Tensor system?
According to Tim, the company believes that “the ability to record employees’ COVID-19 pandemic statuses will be very important”, although it has not yet been needed at their premises.
This status-recording is one of the main Pandemic Management Software features added to Tensor.NET as a direct response to the COVID-19 virus. Staff members can change their health status using a mobile phone or on-line (self-isolating, tested/not-tested, in lockdown, vaccinated, etc.). The Pandemic Management Software also has:
- Track and Trace Reporting – provides organisations with the ability to identify the other employees a potentially COVID infected person may have ‘come into contact with’ while clocking or gaining access.
- Automatic Access Denied – staff members who are booked to specific absence codes (self-isolating / potentially infected) are denied site access, preventing the spread of the disease.
Summing up Thomas Ridley’s experience of working with Tensor, Tim concluded, “Tensor’s innovative hardware and software offers a wide range of labour-saving ways to manage workforce time and activity.”
Thomas Ridley Foodservice
Bury St Edmunds
Phone: 01359 270536