Wearable Technology for Enhanced Productivity
The crew productivity can be tremendously improved by strategically employing wearable technologies, to expedite work completion. The next generation work helmet will include a camera, GPS, poisonous gas sensor, accelerometer, temperature sensor and induction sensor. Most engineering design diagrams and safety manuals can be housed in the vehicle-computing platform and streamed directly to the technician’s wearable or projection surfaces as appropriate. The integrated wearable can stream real-time video from the work site to a remote diagnostic center, where an expert can help aid problem resolution. Additionally, the vehicle can be fitted with a guided robotic arm and other special devices that can help resolve technical issues such as attending to rooftop solar panels.
New Age Apps to Improve CSAT
Most digital grid devices incorporate powerful processors and several components like data validations etc; of an end-to-end business process can be executed right within the device. Many such business processes can be functionally de-componetized and distributed across grid devices, the vehicle computing platform and back office. Essentially, this leads to a component architecture that is functionally distributed as opposed to stove-piped service architectures. A primary feature of this app architecture is its ability to dynamically reconfigure devices in the field to restore partial or full function capabilities. Utilities must extend the existing application portfolio to include both field and back office components so that they seamlessly align and deliver fieldwork capabilities. Back office components must include scheduling and dispatch apps. The former should prioritize work based on customer preferences, historical work crew performance and contractual obligations. The latter should initiate work based on real-time crew availability, environmental and service level agreements. All app components will embed several adaptive learning and predictive algorithms and evolve to optimize work dispatch given customer expectations and resource availability. These new age apps will work with advanced asset management and operational systems to deliver optimal work schedules. Crews will be empowered with specialized apps that can provide individualized customer experience in order to effectively improve customer satisfaction. These apps will work in tandem with communication systems that can deliver real-time work status anywhere, anytime to customers. A practical realization of a residential solar panel outage/restoration process is depicted in Figure 3.
Next Steps for Process Excellence
The digital integration of field devices and vehicles using a robust communication layer, enables a unique opportunity to centrally manage, and optimize fieldwork processes. Utilities can set up a network operations center that can help schedule, dispatch and manage all fieldwork including existing lines of business regulated work. In addition, these centers can also prioritize, sequence, dispatch and manage work across the entire service area. They can effectively coordinate a wide variety of tasks and respond quickly to an emergency scenario like a tornado disaster. Customer preferences and compliance criteria can be implemented using standardized processes, established and directed by these operations centers. These centers can also implement predictive process models that can help optimize operational costs to the productivity and effectiveness metrics for various processes can be centrally captured and analyzed for specific improvement objectives. As smart grid and other digital evolutions mature in the electric industry, accelerating local market structures, utilities can expand their service resulting in higher customer satisfaction and retention rates. Smart utilities can leverage their existing customer base and advance the growth agenda by employing emerging field technologies.