Why are workforce management tools more than necessary for Utilities?

New Trends are Empowering and Mobilising the Workforce!

The Energy and Utility industry involves a mobile workforce for major field operations. These in-field and back-office tasks are very dynamic in nature. It takes a lot of effort and budget for the organisation to coordinate the field crew, office administration, external contractors and customers. Besides that, there is no room for mistakes. The payers expect an uninterrupted and prompt service from this sector.

The UK energy and utility sector promise an unprecedented service to over 65 million customers. Imagine the pressure and exertion to deliver the service and support. And the recent advancements have increased the customer expectations further. Thus, the industry is pushing its limits to explore the power of technology.

Mobile workforce management tools need no introduction to the utility sector. It has been employing and managing the moving workforce for long. The management methodology has evolved over time. And, the newer trends assure higher productivity and reduced costs. It also addresses the unique set of challenges faced by this industry including workforce optimisation, system integrations, resource utilisation, and operational efficiencies.

These modern solutions are a great enabler. The industry can use the workforce management tools and applications for both categories-

  • Routine and Simple Tasks – Usually the short-term or daily tasks come under this category. It includes customer support, new installation, service requests, and unplanned visits for outage conditions, leakage repairs and maintenance work orders. This type of field work takes lesser time and can be assigned on a daily basis.
  • Construction and Complex Maintenance Tasks – The Energy and Utility industry involves asset and infrastructure maintenance. The complex tasks split over a period of time belong to this category. It requires long-term planning for construction of new assets, replacement and heavy repairs due to complete breakdown or complicated restoration operations. It may also involve external or third-party contractors.

With the power of digitalization, the mobile workforce management tools empower the workforce to deliver efficient outcomes with following features-

Smart Scheduling and Dispatching

One of the most important factors affecting a worker’s day is the scheduling of his tasks. Considering the amount of travel time is crucial for this industry. Mobile workforce management tools offer smart scheduling capabilities. It assigns the tasks to the right technician based on his skills, equipment, and location. The workers are able to achieve higher first-fix rates. The solution minimizes the chances of repeated visits for the same job. These modern apps also assist in assigning dynamic high-priority jobs to the nearest crew.

Real-Time Information Flow and Sharing

Limited information is a curse to the workforce. It is desirable to keep them updated with the latest information on-site. Equipping the workforce with a bespoke mobile application is a boon. It enables real-time synchronization of data with the back-office systems. Moreover, the experience of the aging workforce is captured in the form of field-documentation. Such a rich knowledgebase helps to retain the efficiency. Also, they can access the detailed task, customer and/or asset information in various forms like figures, charts, etc. without shuffling across paper-based notes. On the other side, any detail updated by the workforce is synchronised over the cloud.

Automating the Processes

Lack of automation can make working vulnerable. In the times of flattened demands, prosumer culture, smart grids and integrated systems, it is mandatory for the companies to embrace automation. Automated rules are the best way to trigger event-based scenarios, send timely alerts, push notifications, adhere to SLA’s, regulate priority tasks, and establish workflows ensuring maximum resource utilisation. It establishes seamless coordination between the workforce in a way that no job is missed or repeated as well as completed on time. Thus, there is no extra pressure because of overtime or work delays. It guides and supports the staff to do more with less.

Adhering to Worker Safety

Workers in this industry are often prone to accidents and hazardous locations. Ensuring their safety is non-negotiable. It is possible to optimise the route and monitor the crew using workforce management applications whilst they are in the field. Using the Geo-spatial mapping, the supervisors can track the workers’ movement. Also, the application offers features to raise an alarm. In emergency, they can contact the team members and seek their help immediately. A worker can enter his check-in time and estimated completion time. If he fails to update the alarm status, the app raises an alarm. The app also makes use of algorithms and environmental conditions to plan the best route. Most importantly, it also works offline!

Proactive Asset Maintenance

Aging infrastructure can cause a huge loss if not maintained properly. Generally, companies resort to the reactive strategy. But, proactive maintenance gives more profitable outcomes. Instead of taking a post-event action, it is better to use technology and take a preventive action. It involves communicating with IoT sensors attached to the assets. Collect information and dispatch the right team at the right time for the necessary work. This is particularly helpful in increasing asset life.

Data-Driven Improvement and Control

Inaccuracies in data can be troublesome. And, accurate data can reap great benefits. It is apparent that to take advantage of data, it is necessary to employ a platform that collects, organises and analyses the silos of information. Over and above, the modern solution also offers role-based access control for security. Data related to assets, customer complaints, meter readings, outages, breakdown, workers updates, usage over time, history, billing, etc. can be analysed for customised reports. This paves way for informed future-decisions and continuous improvement.

A Win-Win situation for Workforce, Customers and the Industry!

According to a new report from Navigant Research, utility spending for mobile workforce management tools is expected to grow to $518.2 million by 2027.

The reasons for the utility sector’s increased focus on workforce management solutions are quite obvious. Customer-grade smart devices, IoT sensors, and Artificial Intelligence are reshaping the service delivery models. Moving away from traditional processing to modern applications will result in increased reliability, satisfaction and safety. Disseminating information to the workforce via applications will make them truly mobile.

Coordinating the workforce and third-party contractors gets easier with such advanced technology. Optimising the workforce with the device-independent mobile applications, making use of centralised and real-time data, leveraging cloud capabilities for collaboration and configuring the automated processes is bound to cover the loopholes in the energy and utility operations with reduced manual intervention. Connect with our experts to know more about these workforce management tools.

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