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Top 5 Challenges for On-Site Power Generation and How to Solve Them

The demand for on-site power generation systems has been gaining importance in the United States. With a growing number of blackouts that have disrupted the grid electricity supply in recent years, the need for alternative power sources continues to climb. With this growth comes increased pressure on on-site power generation service companies. Whether these service organizations provide system installation, repair or maintenance services, there is pressure to improve service levels and maximize productivity across their field service operations.

This blog addresses the top 5 critical challenges field service operations face in the on-site power generation systems industry and how to solve them by leveraging a Field Service Management (FSM) solution to increase productivity and customer satisfaction.

Challenges with On-Site Power Generation Systems

Today's on-site power generation system providers must juggle an array of daily responsibilities while complying with strict regulatory standards, maintaining aging assets and infrastructure, and facing pressure to cut costs and complete more work with fewer resources. The top 5 service challenges impacting these responsibilities are:

  1. Effective Installation Planning and Execution

  2. Optimal Installation Change Management Practices

  3. Accurate Job Data Capture and Processing

  4. Efficient Execution of Job Repair and Maintenance

  5. Adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT)

The goal of most service companies is to maximize their operations with efficient processes, productive workers and happy customers. Successful service delivery involves many inter-related components, and a field service management solution is the crucial enabler to efficiency.

An FSM solution connects back-office processes to the field workers. The system ensures that these teams have the real-time information they need to carry out their job efficiently and effectively – from job creation to final invoicing. The benefits of the right field service management solution go beyond the work of your dispatch team and the field workers.

Let’s take a more in-depth look into each of these challenges and how an FSM solution, like FieldAware, addresses each, enabling services organizations to have a competitive edge and deliver world-class service performance.

1. Effective Installation Planning and Execution

The operations team must ensure the right skilled technician/crew is scheduled in the proper order and reduce any delay between phases, including the completion of inspections, so that the installation is performed on-time, within budget and at the lowest cost. The impact of ineffective planning and execution are extending job completion efforts and timelines, impacting profit, days sales outstanding and customer satisfaction.

Solution: FieldAware provides the planner with the ability to link a series of dependent jobs together to manage the entire implementation project effectively. Each linked job can be a phase of the implementation or can represent a portion of the installation work to be performed by a specific team. The FieldAware Smart Scheduler then enables customers to optimize the sequence, schedule and execution of the linked jobs resulting in maximum resource utilization. Additionally, FieldAware's True-Crew solution and Time Slot feature enables assigning specific tasks to specific crew members from the office or the field, resulting in greater resource efficiency and accuracy.

2. Optimal Installation Change Management Practices

Disruptions to the best-laid plans are inevitable. The ability to effectively plan, re-plan and execute installation jobs when an unexpected disruption or delay occurs can determine if the project is successful or not. Stage delays in the installation process require rescheduling all subsequent stages or steps, as well as all the other jobs or tasks that involved those resources.

In some cases, the disruption is not immediately recognized by the scheduler, which can compound the impact on all future jobs on the schedule. Worst case, the project is paused and never completed. The consequence can be missed or delayed jobs for other customers resulting in poor customer satisfaction, inefficient use of resources and billing delays which are all bad for business.

Solution: With FieldAware, the dispatch teams are made aware when delays happen via FieldAware's active email alerts and paused job reports. This functionality eliminates job delays and enables proactive re-working of the schedule to accommodate customer's needs. When disruptions do occur, the FieldAware Scheduler planning mode and dynamic visual scheduling board allow the scheduler to perform what-if analysis to reschedule the impacted jobs. FieldAware minimizes the impact of the disruption, improves customer satisfaction, maintains profit margin and optimizes field resources.

3. Accurate Job Data Capture and Processing

When job work documentation is manually processed and paper-based, job information can be incomplete, lost or lack the necessary details or signatures to formally complete jobs. This incomplete data is especially impactful for final inspections or job invoicing. For inspections to be completed as quickly and as possible, clear and accurate data and documentation are essential. For many, this critical information is gathered on paper, often written manually in the field.

When manual, paper-based processes are used, the service organization experiences delays in inspections, duplicate data entry, use of outdated forms and setbacks in processing required paperwork. Without proper and complete documentation, including on-site photo and video capture, the service team will experience numerous issues. These can include out-of-compliance reporting, billing delays and lost paperwork resulting in increased administrative costs due to document filing and storage, accounts receivable research and inspection management and potential penalties.

Solution: Mobile forms, like FieldAware Forms, digitizes the workflow and processes with inspection checklists, signature capture and photo/video documentation automatically attached to each job. These capabilities enable the field technician to capture rich, accurate data at the worksite directly in the form, including photos, videos, sketch pad, audio recordings and barcode scans. All of these assets are embedded directly in the digital form, so there's no need to attach files separately in emails. FieldAware Forms provide notification workflows to route information internally to the resource responsible for scheduling inspections. Since all the information supporting inspections and job close-out packages are in the electronic form, the job inspection and completion process is significantly accelerated.

4. Efficient Execution of Job Repair and Maintenance

It is essential that schedulers properly assign the appropriate technician to the job in a timely manner based on skills, service areas and other workforce management policies. If the wrong resources are dispatched, diagnosis may be incorrect or not performed. The repairs are not completed as quickly as possible, and the power generation asset downtime is extended. These challenges cause billing delays, lost revenue, poor customer satisfaction and potential SLA penalties.

Solution: FieldAware's Smart Scheduler assists the scheduling team by optimizing the assignment of work based on workforce management policies. The Smart Scheduler will automatically balance the workload to optimize the sequence of jobs and the allocation of qualified resources to best meet the business goals of efficiency and effectiveness. This in turn improves profitability and maximizes customer satisfaction.

5. Adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT and field service have always been viewed as a dream match. The promise of IoT, to remotely monitor activities and proactively dispatch a technician, and eventually provide predictive maintenance, aims to improve the customer experience and deepen loyalty with the service provider. Without a core field service system that is able to take in the IoT data and integrate with an IoT solution to automate the service process and workflows, service operations teams are not able to capitalize on the rich data.  They lack the capabilities to streamline the service process missing out on significant cost savings and creating new service offerings.

Solution: FieldAware is a field service hub, with the ability to integrate into an IoT platform to monitor on-site power generation systems remotely. System disruptions can be better predicted and managed so technicians can be dispatched proactively based on system performance and testing data. These service insights can prevent emergency repairs, improve customer satisfaction and deepen loyalty between the service provider and their customer by fixing issues before they occur. IoT also allows for the possibility of diagnosing problems remotely without ever having to dispatch a truck, saving time and expense.

Never before could on-site power generation service providers monitor, in real-time, whether a machine or device was working correctly. IoT also provides other operational efficiencies and cost reductions. Since IoT uses real-time analytics to identify issues, alarm codes and other machine-driven triggers, the services and parts required for an individual system can be more accurately defined. This insight increases first-time fix rates, saving time and money. Additionally, the ability to remotely triage and resolve an issue provides a timelier problem resolution. It reduces the amount of costly "truck rolls" required to support a service organization's customer base. In a nutshell, predictive maintenance that connects to cloud platforms and employs algorithms to analyze data allows machines to "self-heal," reduces downtime, allows for a flexible, on-demand workforce and contributes to increased profits.

Are you experiencing one of these challenges? Get a demo today and see how FieldAware can help you deliver better service and gain an edge over your competitors.