How the Vancouver-Based Layher Supplier Combines Quantify and Avontus Designer to Boost Returns by 30%
Skyline launched in 1995 with a four-person team operating out of a pickup truck. Today, the Vancouver-based company has nearly 100 employees and over $12 million in scaffold assets. The firm exclusively supplies German-made Layher systems equipment, primarily for large civil and infrastructure projects in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Skyline focuses on specialty projects, such as building restorations, demolitions, facade supports and temporary roofs.
When Jeff Remfert joined Skyline as general manager in 2013, he was surprised to find that the company had no system for inventory control. Equipment stock had grown tenfold over the previous 18 years, but the process for tracking it hadn’t changed since the time everything fit in the back of a truck.
“You’re taking on projects blind, because you don’t know your inventory,” Remfert says. “It didn’t work — it was a huge challenge.”
Before taking on a job, team members had to manually count equipment available in the yard and across job sites. When equipment was not on hand as planned, designer and engineers had to redo scaffold designs or shell out high fees to ship in rented equipment at the last minute. Jobs were sometimes postponed while Skyline waited for equipment to free up. These hiccups proved expensive.
“We saw lower returns, higher freight costs and higher design costs. We also had higher labor costs when we had to make a design change, adapt systems halfway through a project or spend extra time in the yard separating rented equipment from our own,” Remfert says.
The design process needed an upgrade, too. When Remfert came aboard, draftspeople were still using pen and paper. In 2015, the staff engineer transitioned to AutoCAD, but there were limitations: Each drawing had to be completed manually, which proved time-consuming, especially when designs needed to change mid-stream. Putting together an equipment list based on the designs also remained a slow, labor-intensive process.
After doing some research, Remfert decided to implement Avontus Software’s Quantify in 2014. A key factor was ease of use. “Quantify is like using an iPhone compared to a Blackberry,” Remfert says. “It’s easy to understand, and you don’t have to know a lot of terminology or make a lot of guesses.”
Once every piece of equipment was in Quantify, the company could accurately plan ahead for projects.
That meant lower costs and the ability to take on bigger jobs, such as a $1.4 million project at the Pattullo Bridge.
“We can predict when we’re going to get equipment back from job sites, so we can design on what we will have available and not overbuy or over-rent,” Remfert says. “That allows us to to see a better return on projects and be proactive, not reactive.”
Skyline is also using Quantify to ensure inventory stays within 1% of expected value at the end of each year. Accurate tracking and predictions have allowed the company to utilize up to 90% of equipment most of the time, up from 60%. The company has invested those profits into specialty equipment, such as Layher roof systems, that offers even higher returns. Remfert estimates that Quantify has enabled Skyline to purchase $4 million more in inventory than they otherwise could have over five years, while rental returns have increased by 30% over that period.
Five years after implementing Quantify, Skyline adopted Avontus Designer.
“Not having to sit someone down to do an equipment list is a huge time-saver, and because it’s part of Quantify, it immediately tells us what we’re short on,” Remfert says. “If we have to redesign, the draftsperson can make a change in minutes rather than hours. It’s ten times faster than AutoCAD.”
Remfert says Avontus Designer has also served as a “powerful sales tool” because it allows the company to get a complex drawing in front of clients faster than competitors, and to develop a tighter rental quote based on the list value of equipment.
“We looked at this as a full-service package,” Remfert says. “Quantify by itself made a massive difference in our business. Avontus Designer takes it to another level.”