Practice Makes Perfect: Planning, Scheduling and Execution in Smart Metering
Author: Jim Menton, Utilities Industry Principal
ClickSoftware has deployed more than 75 successful utility implementations, including many of the largest electric, gas and water utilities around the globe. Within these implementations ClickSoftware’s best in class field service management solution (according to Gartner) is now being implemented to optimize the planning, scheduling and execution of smart meter roll-outs utilizing a best practices approach.
A little about my background, I was lucky enough to have worked with the largest AMI (advanced metering implementation) vendor globally as their Managing Director of Professional Services and had the opportunity to develop this best practices approach for AMI implementations very early on, even before the moniker “Smart Meter” even existed. This approach didn’t happen by accident, it was developed because of many sleepless nights and gray hair due to the early nature of the technology and implementation strategies. In fact, no one else had ever rolled out a ($1B) smart meter implementation and I was the fortunate one to be first.
The reason for this quick story is that prior to understanding what ClickSoftware’s capabilities and solutions were all about, my teams were using multiple platforms (solutions) from various vendors and subcontractors to plan, schedule, implement, and close out work orders on a job by job basis. They’d use handheld devices, cellphones, barcode scanners, carrying camera’s to take pictures of meter-fits (even Polaroids), to verify and notify the utility of an unsafe condition. They docked their handheld devices at the end of the day to upload all of the installation data into the utility IT back-end systems to capture meter change outs, all of the detail associated with the meter itself, i.e. which customer, where, when, final read, initial read etc. Thinking about the technology available today, just 7 years later, I can’t believe how much time and money was spent for these inefficient implementations, not to mention the anxiety of managing the utilities expectations on a daily basis due to system integrity issues.
So you ask, “How can ClickSoftware help you with smart meter implementations today?” For starters, how about street level routing for technicians on their mobile devices telling them the best route and optimal time to the job sites based on traffic conditions and time available? I remember the good ‘ole days of “MapBooks” – trying to read them while driving to my next customer location and still to this day I don’t know how I didn’t crash my vehicle while doing so. Texting while driving, heck, we were reading maps while driving!
What if you had a scheduling solution that could automatically optimize work orders and resources in the field (with the right capabilities and in real-time) to maximize work for the day? Or a mobile solution that would automatically call ahead to your next customer and advise that you would be there momentarily? How’s that for customer service? Instead of the customer not knowing when you would arrive, the solution optimizes your schedule continuously for the day and eliminates time, travel, and customer aggravation. The beauty of this mobile solution is that it’s completely integrated to the utility’s ERP back office solutions providing real-time updates on the status of the metering roll out not only to the IT and metering operations group, but also for the utility executives and regulatory group.
Considering ClickSoftware can save, on average, 17% of the operating cost for most utility’s field workforce group, I hesitate to think of how much time and money I could have saved for my utility clients. Don’t make the same mistakes that I have in the past, learn from these insights and take a hard look at ClickSoftware for smart metering.
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