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Mobile and IoT in the Energy Sector

To address the increasing pressure to improve operational efficiency and adhere to the latest compliance and operational regulations, Mike Crooks, Head of Mubaloo Innovation Lab discusses the many drivers for mobile and IoT in the energy sector.

Enterprise mobile apps can dramatically improve remote workforce management, streamline workflows and transform business processes for energy providers while consumer apps can help with account management and provide tools for the intelligent management of energy usage.

Delivering efficiencies to the workforce or channel partners is driving impressive returns for energy companies who are embracing mobile. Mobilisation within the energy sector has already helped organisations increase field force productivity by 20% and improved their ability to meet service level agreements by a reported 23%. With increasing pressure to improve operational efficiency, adhere to the latest compliance and operational regulations, deliver better customer service and reduce operational costs; there are many drivers for mobile and IoT in this sector.

Mobile and IoT in the energy sector

Reduce operational costs:
Moving away from paper processes reduces overall admin costs and drives efficiencies. Location-based technologies or IoT technologies can also help with more accurate and efficient collection of data, allowing the workforce in both the field and administrative roles, to focus on other essential tasks. Access to real-time data will help provide intelligence on how work is being done, to help energy companies improve the quality and reliability of their operations.

Improve workforce management:
Using mobile and location-based technologies, like beacons, enables real-time management of employees and facilitates the delivery of essential information or automated log in based on location or proximity to an asset.

More effective asset management:
Connected infrastructure, via M2M, or through the deployment of other location-based technologies, provides energy companies with greater intelligence on infrastructure. This information allows these companies to minimise downtime, improve uptime and optimise field resources. Potential issues with machinery can be identified more easily, allowing maintenance engineers to respond quickly to problems. Machine learning and predictive analytics will also help energy companies detect issues with assets that require maintenance before an issue occurs. Integration with workforce management systems means tasks can be assigned to the field workforce, in real-time, through bespoke apps.

Improve maintenance processes:
A connected utility infrastructure, along with mobile apps, can help energy companies prevent downtime and manage maintenance more accurately. Tools within customer facing apps can be used for reporting problems; photos of issues and geo-location information can be attached giving more visibility and pinpointing exactly where issues are. This can help in decreasing call centre costs and improve customer service, as well as provide more accurate information to the maintenance team.

Increase Health & Safety Compliance:
Mobile apps and IoT technologies can help ensure compliance with health and safety standards and ensure that checks are being completed on site wherever and whenever necessary. Time-stamped, location-based electronic copies of checklists can be provided. For example, as an engineer enters a site, they receive an alert to ensure they have the relevant safety kit with them. To ensure safety regulations are adhered to, alerts must be physically acknowledged by that employee.

Improve channel management:
Energy companies rely on a vast network of partners and suppliers, apps can help to deliver better insight and build tools that improve communication, as well as sales and working practices, without compromising security. Companies can utilise mobile apps to improve visibility over their channel partners and how they are working.

A cohesive strategic approach to mobilising the energy sector should be based on business objectives rather than technology considerations. This ensures the ultimate end user experience is provided and specific business needs are met to drive transformation in the industry.

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