The Ingredients for a Better 2020Posted to ARCOS LLC in the Utility Management Group
image credit: Photo 150114817 © Leonid Yastremskiy - Dreamstime
- Jan 31, 2020 11:15 am GMTJan 24, 2020 11:16 am GMT
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This item is part of the Special Issue - 2020-01 - Predictions & Trends, click here for more
Let’s say you’re making apple pie for a family get together. Grandma’s classic recipe was always the best and you’re following her hand-written notes to a “t”. You know all the ingredients are in the cupboard which is lucky since budget issues have kept you from the store. But now, the whole family is coming - even the ones who never show. Suddenly, you need more fixings - while the amount of required pie keeps growing and growing.
Utilities are finding themselves in a very similar situation. As a utility, you have a finite set number of resources. Your cupboard is full of people, trucks, specialized equipment and even utility service providers. But when the workload increases with new customers, additional maintenance work, regulatory compliance orders, planned incidents, and weather-related and other disruptive events, budget and resource restrictions can hamper a utility’s ability to respond, restore and report. During weather-related incidents most utilities will rely on their mutual assistance processes but that comes with a price. So what can you do with the same amount of resources?
We decided to take a look at a few current 2020 trends that are working to help utilities keep resources constant by ensuring that they aren’t spread too thin while having the added benefit of improving customer relations through technology.
Making Smaller Pies
The latest trend is to use technology to do more with less. By integrating proven existing systems, utilities are addressing the situational needs of their business. Improving the allocation of finite resources to the infinite amount of work coming in, products like a WMS or OMS can tag-team with a utility’s resource management system. This allows supervisors to efficiently handle the morning shuffle, huge events, or match employees’ skills to the job with greater efficiency. The integration of tools also allows for better reporting and a faster way to get to a single source of truth.
Using More of What’s Already There
Another trend is to avoid the dusting off of tools and technology utilities use in emergencies by utilizing solutions for both blue-sky and event driven processes. Many are discovering they already have technology in place that features a full range of functionality for blue sky and event situations. There’s also the benefit of knowing the system when an event strikes and not having to refresh one’s memory. Using a tool in all skies is not only desirable, but a 2020 necessity.
Taking It to the Streets
A third trend is they’re making it mobile. Utilities are assessing what work needs accomplished while in the field. In this world of instant information, why tether yourself to a desktop and radio? Delayed restoration and work efforts can happen and give customers a chance to vent on social media. The quicker meters are back up and attributed to a mobile solution, the better. Mobile puts control of response and restoration efforts into the palm of the supervisor and field employee hands. From assessing damage and issuing work to calling out and manning crews, mobile platforms are a vital piece of a utility’s shift management pie.
Technology has assisted in closing the loop that helps management and leadership staff crews, schedule and assign work, track resources, and report more accurately. 2020 will be a big year for utilities to bring all their processes and technology together to continue improving and empowering their employees. One thing is certain, we will see utilities continue to raise the bar, improve quality of life for all employees and allow them to work smarter and report real time through mobile technology.