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How do YOU do field-side mobility?

At the Utility company I work for we're starting to assess our current mobile capabilities. We currently have 5+ applications that have all been purchased as an "addon" to core business systems but are now looking for a more unified approach. Some of the main drivers are an increased end-user experience (working in 1 system as opposed to 2-3), and potential to integrate different business processes into the software in the future. The work that gets performed today can be classified as short-cycle and long cycle work, as well as unscheduled (emergent) work.

What sort of technology does your utility company to update and complete work in the field?

What trends do you see in technology that could potentially disrupt this space? 

Is there one solution for your field workers, or does the type of work dictate what system it is coming from? 

What sort of industry leaders are out there for field service management for the Utility sector? We aren't looking for a new work management system, just something flexible enough to use with multiple backends. 

What's the breakdown of Windows/Android/iPhone in your field services?

Does your company support BYOD for field workers? 

Kasey Clark's picture

Thank Kasey for the Post!

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Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Dec 1, 2018 1:47 pm GMT

Kasey,

 

I am sending you links to some articles that were written from our mobile confernce in 2016 - they might be helpful.  

https://www.energycentral.com/c/cc/going-mobile-without-falling-your-face

https://www.energycentral.com/c/mu/conedison-mobile-ask-dont-assume

https://www.energycentral.com/c/cc/comed-ups-customer-joy-mobile

Vikram Takru's picture
Vikram Takru on Dec 5, 2018 5:10 am GMT

Kasey,

You may want to check out KloudGin Intelligent Mobile Workforce Managent Cloud. I am part of the KloudGin team just to stay honest. 

Product is designed to do exactly what your vision is. It has Single APP  to Schedule, Dispatch and Execute on Native Mobile online/ offline both short-cycle and long cycle work.

What it means is for all Field Operations, whether it is short-cycle from any CIS, long cycle work from WAM, water quality samples from LIMS, or reactive maintenance (Leak repairs, outages etc.), ESRI GIS based inspections all types of field work is optimized by the KloudGin scheduling engine and different types of work orders are executed on a Unified Native Mobile User Interface. This means that as worker switches jobs, he or she will only have one User Interface across all jobs. This is a huge benefit in Field Operations, as user adoption is a massive problem.

It comes with an Integration engine which has pre-built adaptors to Oracle CC&B, ESRI GIS 10.6.1, SSO,  Oracle WAM 2.0, Maximo, Oracle ERP, PeopleSoft, Oracle Cloud Sensors etc. This allows you to combine data from multiple systems in single easy to use modern application.

https://www.kloudgin.com/calwater-success-story

http://utilitymarketconnections.com/vendor_spotlight/changing-the-face-of-customer-experience-from-the-ground-up-with-kloudgin/

https://www.kloudgin.com/industries/energy-and-utilities-and-cities

It's built on a configurable cloud platform so you can configure it based on your expanding needs.

https://www.kloudgin.com/intelligent-cloud-platform

Kasey Clark's picture
Kasey Clark on Dec 5, 2018 4:11 pm GMT

Thanks for your reply Vikram! It looks like the Kloudgin is a full on suite of services, and interesting platform for sure. It looks as though the thought of the platform is Scheduling and Mobile Work Execution should take place in the same system. What drove that decision, given that Maximo WAM and Oracle ERP all have scheduling modules? 

karthik Sagar's picture
karthik Sagar on Dec 6, 2018 1:59 am GMT

Hi Kasey,

Good to see you talking about the industry problem. I have been working utilities for giving a digital transformation for their field worker mobility. In the process of acting as a catalyst what we learned is that the first place where organizations are stuck is where your thread starts.

There are many WFM Solutions in the market meeting different needs. for example here is a top 10 needs or areas to cover when looking for a field solutions.

  • Empowering field force
  • Automate Scheduling and  Assignment of routine work
  • Dynamic Wizards or forms creations and distribution for data collection
  • Track and Monitor through dashboards
  • Keep informed through a collaborative communication channel.
  • Analyses and report performance KPI’s
  • Digital assistance and technology-driven analysis
  • Dynamic building of resources for gathering field data
  • Omnichannel data gathering
  • Design and drive rosters
  • Locate and move your crew to the locations without time lapse

If the above list has your problem statement then you are on the right hunt. 

One Solution I could ask you to look into is Fieldon.com which emphasizes on-field problems.

If you would like to know more or understand in terms of what it takes for transformation then feel free to buzz me.

Josue Sanchez's picture
Josue Sanchez on Sep 19, 2019 12:33 pm GMT

Karthink,

We been looking a good mobile solution, where we can integrate our GIS and the OMS system, and the regular schedule work. Canyou contact me by email to jsanchez@ocalafl.org?

Josue

Jeff Hernandez's picture
Jeff Hernandez on Dec 7, 2018 4:29 pm GMT

Kasey,

This topic comes up more more often than not in this industry.  It will continue to be a topic for as fluid as we are in the Utility space.

At PG&E, we are a mix of iOS and Rugged Windows where each device serves their purpose.  We do allow BYOD, but not for field work - that is limited to just PIM data (Calendar, Email, Contact and some in-house developed Apps).

For field management, we use ABB Service Suite for Schedule and Dispatch.  We have some other back-end what I'll call IT tools that work in conjunction with our business tools as well.

Feel free to contact me if you'd like a more deep dive into some of what we're doing over here.  I'm also curious as to what your landscape looks like and some fo the challenges you face.

Alan King's picture
Alan King on Oct 25, 2019 3:54 am GMT

Hi Kasey,

Great questions. Your current situation is fairly common in my experience working across the energy industry in field services for over 10 years. Stemming from siloed business units, different core systems, vendor capability and maturity, and the struggle for a positive business case for a high cost solutions that have low field numbers. Licensing and configuring a Tier 1 vendor for a 20 person business process can struggle to show ROI....

Before I answer and full disclosure, I run a company that solves this and spotted the opportunity to do so several years back.

In answer to your questions:

What sort of technology does your utility company to update and complete work in the field? 

At the top end of town, the sorts of field based technology ranges from native mobile applications to web apps from Tier 1 core system vendors. These are led by SAP, Oracle, Salesforce over to stronger specialist functional players such as Click (now part of Salesforce). Increasingly and speaking from first hand experience, the product and vendor maturity of Tier 2's are leading to cut through in that area, particularly in the edge case area.

Core systems are being held onto longer and upgrades deferred, however keeping pace with mobile hardware changes, regulatory requirements and business improvements leads to more investment on the web and mobile end is what we see.

What trends do you see in technology that could potentially disrupt this space?

From experience, looking across the innovation teams and the BAU teams there are 2 different paces. Innovation are looking at technologies such as IoT for asset health monitoring and changing from preventative to condition based maintenance, drones for pole top inspections to reduce fire likelihoods, greater customer engagement also. Some of these have been implemented in the last 12 months, while others are still learning.

There are many other areas that will disrupt the field function. A few include machine learning to look at weather patterns, leading to the likelihood of equipment failure, smarter veg management by integrating exsiting excellent tech like LIDAR with algorithms, IVR and network data. Overlaying these outputs on workforce planning has shown some smart outcomes already in trials.

Is there one solution for your field workers, or does the type of work dictate what system it is coming from?

Most of our customers have different solutions, albeit fairly rationalised. That said, running as much work through a single capable scheduling engine is where the real value is obtained. This leads to multiple efficiencies with skills, locations, shifts, assets and work types. A simple use case (although some work involved in delivery!) we were involved with; 

A construction crew were standing up a new pole and required an HV line worker. A weather event occured and the crew head back to the trucks to wait it out. That weather event caused an unplanned customer(s) outage locally. Tradtionally the trouble call would have been dispatched to the nearest "on call" crew, who could be many km's away. This incurred customer off supply penalties and associated call out costs/allowances with the crew. By providing visibility across business units, that HV line worker seconded to the construction project could receive the trouble call and be there faster, restoring power quicker reducing the customer off supply penalties along with associated travel costs amongst others.

What sort of industry leaders are out there for field service management for the Utility sector? 

The answer here is very few.... It's an area that is starting to be covered by Gartner and Forrester. We know the space as Collaborative Work Management. Most across our customer base in energy have addressed this by using middleware such as Mulesoft and to a lesser extend Oracle, Boomi, Tibco. Now there are other alternatives with cloud based, API driven operational platforms that also handle the work completion and workflow back to other systems. e.g. Raise a notification in SAP, auto create the field job and upon completion trigger an event back in Salesforce for a follow on activity with the customer.

What's the breakdown of Windows/Android/iPhone in your field services?

There is also the rugged vs consumer question that typically pops up here. Also how the devices are held (owned, leased etc.) The last 5 years has seen legacy Windows devices (Mobile 6, 6.1 and Win7 Tablets) sweated as much as safely possible. Strong support contracts that we advocate for a minimum 3 years, up to 5 years have enabled this to happen. However at device refresh, we see the following:

iDevice (iPhone and iPad) - The finance division typically play a heavier part here, with all due respect to those teams. Buying a rugged case and supplying an iPhone and an iPad to a field worker still allows for 1 of them to be replaced and be under the TCO of a rugged device. A separate conversation but productivity impacts, cooling (especially here in Australia) etc. come into this decision. This is the highest numbers out there we see.

Rugged - Android - Increasingly gaining traction particularly with the features of Android Enterprise and no Play Store. Lower TCO and reliable hardware. This is the highest growth area we see.

Rugged - Win10 - Due to the higher cost and in some cases mandatory rules for vehicle mounting based on weight, these deployments are centered on more specialist functions such as switching instructions, schematics etc. This is the lowest device numbers we see.

Does your company support BYOD for field workers? 

At Distribution and Transmission, we haven't come across this for field workers but is in wide use across back office staff. The key here is the device management capability to securely deploy to and manage your devices.

 

Always keen to share knowledge in this space. Hope this helps and happy Friday!

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