Braun Electric Company, Inc.

Braun Electric Company creates custom mobile app to increase job safety.


Electrical Contractors


Job safety analysis app to track permits, safety reviews, onsite diagrams, and more.


Improved safety, increased efficiency and productivity, reduced costs and paper use, and boosted customer satisfaction.

Heavy industrial electrical contractor increases safety awareness for over 435 team members with a technical iPad-based solution, including their innovative job safety analysis application.

Safety first

Jeff Coghlin, IT manager, explains how safety is central to Braun Electric. “We’re a long established company,” says Coghlin. “At the same time, we stay on the cutting edge through a fierce commitment to continuous improvement with the FileMaker Platform as a cornerstone. Our safety record is one of the things we’re most proud of, and that’s been improving even more through greater thoroughness and accessibility to information made possible by the FileMaker Platform.”

To tackle on-the-job safety for over 435 people, Application Developer Jason Larson and Coghlin sat down with the Business Improvement Team to identify the most pressing issues. They decided that their first task was to digitalize the most critical, and among the most complex, business processes: Job Safety Analysis (JSA).

Traditionally, the forms supporting the JSA were 100% paper-based. People in the field would fill out pre-job forms and associate standard operating (SOP) procedures from large binders into job procedures.

The SOP maintenance process required printing and maintaining two three ring binders of information for each of over 300 vehicles in the company. If there was a change to an existing procedure, or a completely new process created, then a new sheet of paper had to be printed, laminated, and hole punched for every binder in the company and the old sheets collected. This would take two to three weeks to complete. Braun needed a more efficient way to distribute this information to its team members, ensuring they have the most up to date version of this critical information.

Larson states, “We needed a digital form and mobile solution that would help team members by providing information immediately and prompting electricians to answer questions about underlying safety issues they may not have considered.”

We're a long, established company. At the same time, we stay on the cutting edge through a fierce commitment to continuous improvement with the FileMaker Platform as a cornerstone.

Jeff Coghlin, IT manager, Braun Electric Company

A foundation for better business

Upon deciding that streamlining the JSA process was the first concern, the next question was how to accomplish the task. Which technology would provide the fastest development time and provide the multi-platform foundation for many other solutions that could automate and improve business processes?

"Applications should be designed around people and processes instead of people having to change the way they work to utilize an application,” says Coghlin. "This is why we decided to build our own FileMaker application to fit our processes."

CEO Ed Ott adds, “The need to share information was not solely for field personnel. Doing more with less from the front office perspective required a system that would feed back data and information in real time, thus sharing the response to risk activity with all officers and senior project managers simultaneously. FileMaker provided that flexibility and was a welcome change. Adding more managers for overseeing our at-risk workload was avoided. Making our current leadership staff more informed displaced the need to add the staff. Additionally, we were able to invest in the technology at reduced cost overall.”

The solution needed to be extremely easy to use. Additionally, it had to work offline and then later sync updated data over cellular connections to the company’s back-end Windows-based servers, and integrate with other business systems including ERP and office productivity applications.

Larson was convinced that the FileMaker Platform was the way to go. “Meeting all of our requirements would have been a tremendous undertaking if we were using traditional hand-coding methods,” says Larson. “FileMaker made it easy to create a ‘mobile-first’ solution, an important factor because most of our team members in the field never touch a computer but only use mobile devices. So we needed a mobile solution that would be easy to use but also integrate seamlessly with our back-end desktop and server systems.”

Using the FileMaker Platform, the company created a Job Safety Analysis app that covers permits, number of times that safety personnel review the JSA, fall protection, site diagrams, sign-in pages, lift tickets, and more. The JSA solution also automated communication to the leadership team by sending alert notifications.

The JSA tracker equips field leadership with on-site, digital and searchable information. For instance, project managers are presented with GPS location information, as well as data such as existing energy control forms, site diagrams, potential sources of hazardous conditions, and so on.

Bottom line: Improved Safety

Since adopting FileMaker and following best practices, the company’s safety record has become a model for the industry. The total injury rate is 0.24, compared to the overall industry, which rates 3.8. Braun’s Experience Modification Rate (EMR), a number used by insurance companies to gauge both past cost of injuries and future chances of risk, is 65% less than industry average.

Automating multiple business processes

Braun Electric’s ultimate goal is to automate roughly 30 other unique processes, each in a way that meets the company’s customized ways of doing business.

Already the Braun IT team has built a number of innovative iPad solutions. One application combines FileMaker with the GoMaps plug-in from FileMaker Developer SeedCode to allow supervisors to see where crews are at any given time via Google Maps. Another solution from the Apple App Store delivers weather tracking so crews can stay informed of the predicted weather conditions, which allows them to plan their day accordingly. Through another application, workers now have instant access to an electronic version of the national electrical code (NEC) handbook. And even old paper timecards have finally gone electronic using a FileMaker application.

Overall these mobile solutions have improved safety, increased efficiency and ensured better, more automated communication between field personnel and Braun headquarters. Says Ott, “Soon the archive and storage of literally millions of hard copy documents will be a thing of the past. Law and contracts require retention dating back 5 to 7 years. It will be a plus to have the space in our operation returned to us to be utilized for something other than the storage of this documentation. Accurate data retrieval will be easier as well.”

Braun Electric intends to expand beyond internal processes by using the FileMaker WebDirect feature to deliver select reporting data directly to customers’ web browsers.

Adds Larson, “In our industry, we don’t get big game-changers very often. By reinventing our processes with the FileMaker Platform and FileMaker Go for iPad and iPhone, we have improved safety, increased efficiency, delivered a better quality product, increased productivity and reduced costs – not to mention boosting customer satisfaction.”