Despite huge advances in computerised record-keeping, there are still many sectors where manual systems remain in use. An example is compliance in the animal feed industry where the founders of Contomply, Thomasina Maguire and Colm Shearman, estimate that 90 per cent of operators still use paper.
“Contomply is a SaaS application designed to capture assurance scheme requirements for commercial operators in the animal feed industry,” Maguire says. “It digitises the compliance paperwork and allows for full traceability of product while our integrated web dashboard makes for easy and comprehensive reporting at the touch of a fingertip.”
Contomply’s potential customers are haulage operators, mills and storage facilities involved in the transport, storage and production of feed and feed ingredients.
"With the current paper systems admin staff are continuously chasing drivers for dockets and having to make calls due to illegible entries or incomplete or lost paperwork," Maguire says. "And the problem is only going to get worse as the requirements for traceability are increasing due to ever-tightening legislation from Europe.
“Contomply allows two-way real-time communication between transport managers and drivers. This reduces errors and the double-entry recording required by paper methods.
"The dispatch feature also sends jobs straight to the feed truck drivers' phones, thereby reducing the amount of data entry required by them. Our system also records in real time the checklist truck drivers have to fill out daily for the Road Safety Authority. This flags potential problems with the vehicle and allows fleet managers to book services or order parts well in advance.
“Customer feedback indicates that this feature alone saves drivers around 40 minutes a day. Providing real-time information is also beneficial from a cash flow perspective as it means loads can be invoiced as soon as they are dropped, as opposed to when the paperwork is returned.”
Route to market
Contomply was set up in June 2015 and is based at the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC) where it employs four people. Maguire has a background in operations management while Shearman has 30 years' experience in the feed industry as an animal feed consultant and independent auditor for KIWA, the independent auditing body for the Agricultural Industries Confederation.
The investment to date has been in the order of €70,000 with support coming from the NDRC and Enterprise Ireland under its New Frontiers programme. The company's app is available on both Android and iOS.
Contomply’s phase one roll-out was initially targeted at the haulage operators and is already live with paying customers. However, over the last few weeks, the company has decided to tweak its route to market.
“The haulage industry is a tough sell as it is very traditional and the margins are very tight. In order to get more traction, we have decided to pivot and focus our attention on bringing the mills on board first,” Maguire says.
“The mills contract the hauliers and may have 20 or 30 hauliers working for them, and they need to know that the hauliers are fully compliant. We now see the mills becoming super-users of our system and rolling it out to their contractors.
“Basically it’s a smarter way of doing things and we’re currently working through how this will change things such as our pricing model.”
Contomply’s current focus is on the Irish market but as the same assurance schemes are used in the UK and there are similar ones in Europe, the company is ultimately looking to the export market.
"We're doing the selling ourselves in Ireland in order to gain valuable feedback from operators," Maguire says. "This information will help us identify the most appropriate UK/EU sales distribution partners. We've been attending trade shows as they are a valuable way of meeting key industry players while raising awareness of Contomply and our solution."