Breaking Barriers with SafetyQube – a Founder Interview with Ram Soundararajan and Neil Laidlaw of Quber Technologies

Can you tell us a bit about how Quber Technologies got started and why you chose the EHS field to launch your first product in?

The founding team all came from manufacturing backgrounds and we are very familiar with the inner workings of a manufacturing shopfloor having spent decades there.  Based on what we have seen and experienced during our careers, we have deep insight into how efficiencies can be driven through carefully developed digitisation. That is how Quber Technologies got started, from our vision to transform the competitiveness of manufacturers via simple, intelligent and affordable digitisation.

More than 90% of manufacturers view digitisation as the key to efficiencies, but often times, they don’t know where or how to start. And many worry that new technologies may be expensive and/or difficult to implement. We want to break those perceptions and democratize technology for everyone. To achieve that goal, we are building a business transformation platform that consists of several modules, or “Qubes”, each designed to improve the performance of different areas of the manufacturing business.

SafetyQube is our first module and it is designed to simplify, digitise and improve the many safety tasks and procedures that exist within a manufacturing organisation.  We made the decision to prioritise the EHS field because despite of how important this area is, it is still relatively under digitised compared to other functions in the business.  While at the same time, it is one of the easiest functions to digitise across different companies given there are many commonalities in how companies manage and measure health and safety.  On the personal side, this is also an area that is near and dear to our hearts.  When we ran shopfloors in the past, we always tried to do our best to keep our people, processes and assets safe.  Now we have the opportunity to broaden that impact to thousands of organisations around the world.

What are some of the challenges that EHS practitioners are faced with these days and how should they approach them?

EHS practitioners are getting less and less time to focus on the really important tasks that will truly bring value like carrying out site visits, highlighting hazards and problem areas, putting in new processes in place and driving safety improvements.  Instead, they are stuck behind a desk, filling in or chasing documents or pulling data for reports.

Speaking of reports, we feel that a data driven culture is lacking in EHS functions. A lot of information is collected through things like safety checks, audits, inspections, incident and hazard reporting, risk assessments, BBS audits and many other processes.  But unfortunately, the information is not aways used to drive insights and foresights that can enable forward looking incident prevention. More often than not, the collected data is used merely for reporting purposes.

Creating a safe workplace requires building a safety culture and instilling the right mindsets, habits and behaviours. Most organisations do not have big EHS teams on the ground, which means EHS practitioners have limited bandwidth to focus on those critical challenges.

Technology can help with all those aspects.  It can streamline processes and free up valuable time and resources to do the things that matter most.  It can create visibility and help turn data into insights.  It can facilitate communication and feedback loop.  It can create a platform to build teamwork and cooperation.

What can companies expect from a software like SafetyQube?

We designed and built SafetyQube with a few key benefits in mind:

Time saving: Simplifying and digitising high frequency activities like hazard identification, incident reporting, safety checks and inspections, audits and risk assessments, and regular dashboard reporting all through one tool like SafetyQube can save tons of time for EHS practitioners and operations teams. Time that can be used to further improve performance and other productive activities.  Digital transformation is the way forward.  Pen, paper and spreadsheets is a thing of the past.  There is so much efficiency to be gained by bringing EHS functions to the 21st century.

Compliance: Keeping up with the myriad of safety regulations and compliance needs, as well as conforming to standards like ISO45001 is no small feat. SafetyQube will make this process a lot easier to manage.

Ease of use: We know that software is only as good as its users.  There is no point in building a fancy software with all the bells and whistles if no one uses it, usability is key and we take that very seriously.  So, we came up with a cloud-based software that is accessible from all devices, easy to implement and easy to use, using cutting edge and modern technologies, UX and UI.

Culture building: Getting everyone to actively engage in EHS activities and work together to prevent incidents is a massive challenge. It is often overlooked, but employee buy in and engagement is the cornerstone of every successful safety program. With this idea in mind,
we incorporated clever gamification methods in our design that will facilitate and encourage users to take an active role and participate in the various safety tasks and activities

What are the hallmarks of a good software and what sets SafetyQube apart from other EHS software products that are available in the market?

First and foremost, software must meet all the requirements of the end-user. This is such a basic and integral part of any technology implementation that is often overlooked. The specific health and safety requirements of every company usually vary depending on the sector, their safety culture maturity, local regulations and internal company policies. Therefore, no off-the-shelf product would readily fit a business, which is especially true for a large and complex business.  We want to give our customers a tool that fits, so we work closely with them to understand their needs and are prepared to make adjustments and customisations to the software at no additional cost to them. Of course, we don’t start from scratch as we already have a solid product as a base.  But we are willing to customise and fine tune that product to best meet our customers’ needs, even if that means we as a business have to scale a bit slower.

We believe the three main hallmarks of a good software are:

  • Functionality: This is a very important feature for any software.  A piece of software must deliver on its promises to fulfil the client’s expectations and requirements.
  • Usability and user experience: Is the software used frequently by the end user? If the answer is no or the end user is reluctant to use it then the software is not fit for purpose.
  • Security:  A secure software will incorporate security into every aspect. A good software will not expose its users to risks.

SafetyQube has all of the above at its core. We are confident that SafetyQube is the easiest, most secure and functional Health and Safety software in the market.  This has been corroborated by our clients, who especially love how intuitive the software is to use, a core hallmark of the system which has aided its roll out in major businesses around the globe.

What do you think lies ahead in the EHS software, what does the future look like for this space?

We are already seeing so many new technologies coming into the market, from softwares to hardwares, such as sensors, wearables, and smart cameras, to some pretty cool Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies and many others in between.  We recently wrote a blog about the future of EHS technologies.

We think we will see more companies incorporating Machine learning and IoT into their product offering. We are working with researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in the US to make sure we stay on top of these technologies. Our software puts a lot of emphasis on employee engagement.  More engagement will result in more captured data and observations.  As the amount of the data grows, the better the predictive capability of the system gets. And this is what we want to achieve.  

We also see Health and Safety merging with the field of Environment and Sustainability.  Consequently, this will drive more companies to either incorporate ESG into their offering or create new products focusing entirely on this field.  We are looking into this space as well to see where and how we can best add value.