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How Utilities Can Improve Productivity and Decrease Labor Costs with Automated Scheduling Software

For utility companies today, field service scheduling is one of the costliest and most complex tasks they undertake – and one of the more critically important. According to industry research published on Energy Central, field operation labor costs typically represent as much as 60% of the overall asset maintenance costs utility companies incur. For many water and gas utilities, these costs can be as high as 80% of total spend. This is because so much of the scheduling and workforce management processes are carried out manually by utility personnel. While this labor-intensive approach was sufficient for the needs of the industry years ago, today’s public is accustomed to much faster, more responsive services from the organizations that touch their lives (think Amazon and Netflix), and utilities must digitally transform their service models to keep their operations in step with what consumers today expect from them.

Achieving Workforce Efficiencies, Cost Savings

Consider that the average utility has about 500 to 800 field crew workers – without field service scheduling software, utilities typically employ one scheduling administrator for every 12 to 15 field crew members they manage. In implementing an automated scheduling software solution that is data-driven and mobile-ready, utilities can “cut ratios from one scheduling staff member per 15 field workers to one staff member per 80 in the field,” according to commentary published by consulting firm BCG. The productivity gains achieved through an advanced, automated scheduling solution allow utility companies to increase workers’ availability in the field as well – by as much as 50% and “reduce by 25% the time needed for routine jobs.” This is because scheduling and workforce automation allows utility companies to dramatically accelerate their ability to track all the moving parts involved in the scheduling and dispatching processes and complete field work much more efficiently. Digitizing and automating the scheduling solution also allows utility companies to leverage AI and machine learning technologies, which can create predictive models of their future staffing requirements based on historical data. As a result, advanced field service scheduling software can enable highly accurate, data-driven capacity planning throughout the year so utility administrators can arrange for all the field crew workers they need well in advance. And when a crisis occurs that leaves a group of customers out of service due to a storm, fire, pipeline leak or other adverse event, automated field service scheduling software can quickly process the real-time geospatial data surrounding the area and determine the best, fastest routes for field crew teams to get to impacted areas. In addition to saving valuable time for field workers and operations managers alike, an intelligent automated scheduling solution can significantly cut labor costs for utilities as a direct result of these productivity gains.

Choose the Strongest Scheduling Tool for Your Field Automation Needs

The most advanced automated work schedulers on the market today empower operations managers and dispatchers to streamline field operations resources. They offer these capabilities:
  • The ability to map out both scheduled work and work to be scheduled
  • Dynamically updating maps that display the location of all field crews and equipment
  • Access to field data from any connected device, from field crew smartphones to back-office servers and the cloud
  • Both map-centric and non-spatial presentations of work order information, with the ability to query the database
  • Work and work cycle scheduling functionality and dispatching features for the field – considering each worker’s personal time off and other scheduling data recorded in external systems
  • Automated assignment of work to users, user roles, and groups of users
  • Management and assignment of field equipment resources
  • Automatic creation of work orders based on network tracing operations
  • Auditing features for completed work
  • Creation and archiving of historical records
  • Reporting and analysis functionality for work performed
  • System and application event logging features
Learn how utility companies are using automated field service scheduling software to streamline business processes, accelerate field crew response times, and deploy the right equipment to locales in need with our latest guide, Working Faster, Smarter: A Guide to Automated Field Crew Scheduling.
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