Smart Energy Needs Smart Field Service

The Australian energy industry is at a crossroads. Increasing electricity prices and newer technologies are driving the need for smarter methods to improve the productive capacity of our electricity market.

The launch of the federal government’s Energy Green Paper on 23 September and the Victorian Government’s announcement of the completion of its smart meter rollout in July highlights one technology that is being used, or proposed, to make better use of our existing electricity infrastructure.

This has led to discussions about the relative benefits and challenges of initiating a nationwide rollout of smart meters.

In this article, we look at the benefits of smart meters to energy suppliers and energy users. And how a customized solution can ensure those companies looking to participate in the supply and maintenance of the new meters realise the necessary efficiencies.

Residential smart meters are one part of smart grid technology, which have been trialed to improve the reliability of electricity services to consumers. The idea being that smart meters help to identify faults in the grid, better manage changes in voltage and identify assets requiring maintenance1.

Because of the real-time monitoring capabilities of smart meters they can notify an electricity distributor of blackouts at a customer’s premises, allowing repair crews to be prioritised and repairs to start sooner.

Smart meters also give consumers more control over their electricity consumption, enabling them to monitor their energy use and make informed decisions about the best times of the day to use household appliances, to reduce their overall energy use and cost.

The increasing use of smart appliances and meters leverages the smart field service and predictive maintenance features of cloud and mobile applications on the Salesforce platform

In New Zealand, where there’s been a major adoption of smart meters, ProQuest has been working with industry participants to provide a range of functionality. As the Australian marketplace goes into a major adoption phase, consider how we can help to address such issues as:

  • the planning of a mass rollout, as the retailers make their decision and hit the ‘go’ button,
  • the work order management associated with tens of thousands of installations into residential areas,
  • the systematic capture of the installed base of deployed meters and the reconciliation of a meter serial number with the connection point on the network,
  • the scheduling of preventative and break-fix maintenance calls,
  • the tight integration between the smart meter supplier and the third party subcontractors that may be contracted to physically install or maintain the meters and finally,
  • transactions to record a change in retailer when a household decides to change energy supplier.

Of fundamental importance is to have your systems and workflows as automated as possible, especially when the number of assets to be tracked and maintained is in the tens of thousands. Manual intervention on a large scale defeats the business model – and that’s where ProQuest excels: Intelligent design for efficient execution.

As we move toward 2015, the momentum for change is going to accelerate. The breadth and agility of our software frameworks, and ProQuest’s proven talent for customising the system provides relevant participants the best chance of successful involvement in a high stakes game.

1. [Source: Energy White Paper Green Paper 2014, Australian Government Department of Industry.]

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