How Blattner Energy Uses TextMarks SMS to Streamline Communications, Enhance Safety, and Control Costs

Wind Farm

Blattner Energy turned to TextMarks when it needed to streamline communications with large numbers of employees, many of whom were spread across large job sites.  Effective communications not only boosted productivity, but also enhanced employee safety.

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Company Overview
Founded in 1907, Blattner Energy has been involved in some of the largest construction and energy projects in North America, including James Hill’s Great Northern Railroad connecting St. Paul Minnesota to Seattle, Washington.

Company Challenge
The company needed a way for job site managers and coordinators to communicate quickly with employees on large job sites where emergencies or weather events could pose significant safety risks.

TextMarks provided an SMS solution to streamline communications that enhanced job site safety and reduced administrative overhead.

Through the years, Blattner Energy has developed a reputation for innovative, high-quality work in the energy sector. Part of that winning formula is a commitment to effective communication with all project members, which means adjusting resources to better meet project challenges, including inclement weather and other unexpected delays.

According to Michael Rahn, Site Safety Coordinator at Blattner Energy, project challenges not only affect the bottom line, they pose substantial safety risks to workers in the field. “If people are unaware of what’s going on at the job site, you’re at risk of equipment damage or bodily harm,” he said. “If you don’t bring people in the loop and there is miscommunication, that’s when something can go wrong.”

The need to effectively communicate, however, is made more difficult by the large number of people on many job sites at Blattner Energy. Rahn, for example, manages a team of 500 people.

Other Blattner Energy safety site coordinators and managers like Boyd Williams cite the sheer geographic size of some jobs as a major obstacle to effective communication. “I’m responsible for 200 people across 400 square miles,” explained Williams. “I can’t reach the entire site by just making phone calls or hopping on our radio.”

Text Messaging Streamlines Communications

To streamline communications, Blattner Energy turned to TextMarks. “If I need to reach everyone at one time, texting is the only way to do it,” Williams said.

For Rahn, TextMarks has proven effective in different locations throughout the country, including the Mojave Desert, Mississippi, and Colorado.  “Text messaging allows us to be effective with communication and get people up to speed quickly,” he said. “With one click and one text message, you can send it to everyone on the job.”

[pullquote-left]“Text messaging allows us to be effective with communication and get people up to speed quickly.”[/pullquote-left]

Rahn cited TextMarks’ co-manager feature as another way SMS has streamlined communications on the job site. With this feature, he is able to authorize and assign others to send messages to the entire team. 

“This way, everyone with proper authority can immediately send a message to keep the members of the crew safe and alert,” he said. “My team really likes it because you can use TextMarks from a phone or computer.” 

Text Messaging Enhances Safety

Although still unpredictable, weather poses less of an issue now for Rahn, who said he uses SMS for weather warnings and to let his team know when storms are approaching. “We’ll monitor the weather and see what’s happening,” he said. “We know where the storm is and we just send one message with TextMarks.” 

[pullquote-right]“It’s a reliable tool and works the way we need it to work, which is important in harsh conditions.”[/pullquote-right]

The ability to share information quickly via a single text message enhances the safety of everyone on the job site. “You can imagine what can happen if people aren’t informed,” said Rahn, who cited tornadoes as just one example of extreme weather often faced by his teams. “You don’t want to be out there — that’s for sure,” he added.

Williams agreed and cited the TextMarks SMS platform as “an important layer” in his team’s communication system. “It’s a reliable tool and works the way we need it to work, which is important in harsh conditions,” he said. 

Construction Site

Text Messaging Reduces Costs

The ability to rapidly disseminate information to everyone on a job reduces time and costs associated with managing workers spread across large geographical areas.

“There are a lot of indirect costs with communication — people having to take time off or having to go back and call everybody again,” said Rahn. 

This is especially important when something as simple as a rainstorm can potentially derail an entire project. “Rather than having all these guys speculating […] and all 500 people calling the foreman trying to figure out what’s going on that day or coming in unnecessarily, we use it to let people know to hold off until conditions improve,” he explained.

In Rahn’s case, the TextMarks SMS platform replaced an automated early warning system that often did not work correctly.  “The problem with the [earlier] weather warning system is that it sent a lot of false alerts for lightning,” noted Rahn, who said workers would either stop working or, worse, ignore false alerts.

Workers respond differently to messages sent through the TextMarks platform.  “The guys know that a person is using reasoning and logic to send this message out, and it has meaning because it’s coming from someone making that decision,” he said.

Easy to Set Up and Maintain

The TextMarks platform, explained Williams, was easy to set up and has been easy to maintain. “You set it and forget it,” he said. “It’s soldier-proof.”

Rahn agreed and said he has built TextMarks into the orientation process to ensure incoming team members are “immediately brought into the loop” on their initial visit to a project. “If they have a cell phone, we make sure they get signed in,” he said. 

The onboarding process takes 30 seconds. “You send a text message off with a keyword to 81411 and you’re hooked up,” said Rahn. “It will give them a confirmation saying ‘welcome,’ so they know they are in the system.”

[pullquote-left]“I’d recommend TextMarks because it’s user-friendly, very easy to sign up and even easier to send out messages.”[/pullquote-left]

In summing up the performance of the TextMark platform, Rahn said it has streamlined communication at his job sites and enhanced the safety of his team. “I’d recommend TextMarks because it’s user-friendly, very easy to sign up and even easier to send out messages,” he said. “It’s a definite plus.”

Williams agreed and added, “It’s a tool that does exactly what TextMarks said it would do when we signed up. I appreciate that and the support we have had when needed.”

TextMarks is proud to make a positive contribution to the safety and well being of Blattner staff. Our mass text messaging platform is a quick, ubiquitous, effective communication method for many situations, but it’s very satisfying when it’s used to help keep people safe.

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