by Jim Butler
The team here at Streetworks Software recently had a look at the Ofgem plans to deliver savings of over £5bn to consumers through tougher price controls for energy networks. RIIO-2 moved closer to reality at the end of July 2018
The second round of OFGEM – “setting Revenue using Incentives to deliver Innovation and Outputs” is due to be implemented in the next few years, starting in 2021.
In the document, “RIIO-2 framework decision” it states –
‘tougher price controls with lower expected returns for network companies. This is part of our ongoing programme to ensure that consumers get reliable and secure power supplies at a fair price”
The thought process behind RIIO-2 emphasises that the organisations that operate our gas and electricity networks have to deliver fair pricing utilising lower returns to drive the appropriate behaviour. RIIO-2 also seeks to ensure that possible future high energy prices do not have a negative impact on utility customers’ ability to consume power and stay comfortable during severe weather conditions.
To drive this process, the RIIO-2 framework imposes rules that means the gas and electricity network organisations and their contracting service delivery partners will need to focus on driving greater efficiencies in their operations. Simultaneously, they will need to reduce their operating costs and continue to deliver good quality of service whilst remaining profitable
How is the circle to be squared of lower returns, with higher quality of service and efficiency?
As experienced utility focused technology professionals, we at Streetworks Software are well aware of the impact that digital transformation is driving in to all aspects of our society. Organisations generally and in the utility sector (including the network companies and their contractors) are constantly seeking to define how technology can be used to drive business efficiencies for their operations.
The whole utility sector is investigating how to change and manage current time consuming and challenging manual processes with simple to use, but sophisticated digital alternatives to save time and money. Works management software, such as our SwIMS product is a tool that when implemented can double the efficiency and productivity of utility works management activities, whilst significantly reducing risks and costs. RIIO-2 efficiency and cost saving requirements can be more easily met.
Our tool SwIMS manages multiple jobs/tasks across utilities operational field activities. It delivers cost to value management tools and provides real-time information to course correct and deliver high levels of customer satisfaction when implemented in to the core operational functions of utility organisations.
SwIMS generates incredibly valuable data on field operation gangs and on the completion of tasks. This data can be used in a number of ways, including but not limited to, process bottlenecks, travel and collection times, resource shortages, on-site challenges, training/re-training needs. All this information can be gathered and presented to develop and implement more efficient working practices based on accurate, to the minute data, available in dashboards and more detailed reports.
In these ways, works management software can become part of an organisations’ cost to value processes, delivering essential business intelligence on the core elements of people, plant and materials.
The Human Factor
Digital transformation is important, but the human factor is still critical.
Every organisation in our sector’s complex environment requires a large, well trained human workforce. That workforce includes gangs with different task capabilities and particular expertise working across a multitude of locations. From new project installation, planned maintenance and repair actions for extending the life of equipment, to emergency jobs when asset failure is causing problems; these teams of people are absolutely critical for any utility focused organisation.
Digital Technology can really help in assisting these people to be more efficient at their tasks. The critical nature of having the right people, with the right tools in the right place at the right time is well known in the sector. Our experience leads us to suggest that whilst acknowledging this reality, organisations are often reluctant to address the issue of investigating and deploying solutions that enable the allocation of people, plant and materials in the most effective way possible.
How does SwIMS help?
Utilising our tool SwIMS delivers more intelligent decisions, better data that can be deeply analysed leading to a much more efficient and highly optimised workforce.
SwIMS has been built for the utilities sector by deeply knowledgeable and experienced utilities people. SwIMS enables organisations with large workforces continually working on complex and ever dynamic tasks to ensure they are being managed in the most logical and efficient way.
As the use of the tool develops the individuals within those workforces are being assigned the most appropriate to do list, based on a number of parameters that optimise efficiency and appropriately skilled resources.
SwIMS provides managers with a dashboard of exactly which tasks need completing and who/what is available to complete them at any given time.
SwIMS provides planning, scheduling and real-time job management tools, deployed with the skilled staff in the organisation. It has integration tools built-in to allow ensure data consistency and quality, ensuring that input errors across tools are minimised.
The result is that managers, planners/schedulers are able to make far more intelligent, up to the moment data based decisions on all aspects of the works management cycle. Jobs that require the most urgent response are dealt with more rapidly, whilst “more routine, but necessary” work can be planned in where it is most efficient to do so.
As stated at the start of this short article, the upcoming RIIO-2 framework requires that the network organisations will need to accept lower returns from work done compared to the current state.
Our tool SwIMS delivers greater efficiency, higher productivity, reduced risks and optimised costs. SwIMS can be a critical element in the process of continuing to provide homes and businesses with a safe and reliable energy network. All the while ensuring the delivery of the best possible levels of service at the right price, ensuring that profitability goals are maintained and value is delivered back to shareholders.