Service organizations need to understand issues in advance, so they know which technicians, tools, and parts need to arrive on-site in order to maximize the probability of fixing the issues on the first visit.

General Overview of Industry w/r/t Service and Challenges:

Utilities companies keep the world running by providing amenities such as electricity, gas, water, telecommunications, cable, sewage, and other infrastructure services. While utility services differ by segment, all utilities play a critical role in our lives and all require sophisticated service capabilities to ensure reliability. Modern Field Service solutions such as Salesforce Field Service and ServiceMax are great for managing core Service operations such as Work Orders, Parts Ordering, and Dispatching. However, there are other Service challenges that require connected assets and AIoT solutions to address. Challenges such as auto-detecting power outages and dispatching technicians to quickly restore service, predicting transformer failures before outages occur, knowing where a pressurized main is leaking to reduce repair times, confirming a lockout/tagout before proceeding with service, and reporting relevant information to regulatory agencies. These kinds of challenges were the catalyst for Connected Field Service. Connected Field Service enables organizations to transform the way they provide service from a costly break-fix model to a proactive and predictive service model by combining IoT diagnostics, asset management, and resource management on an integrated Service platform.

Customer Story

A regional utility company, governed by federal regulations, has partnered with Spoke AIOT to connect their field-based capital assets to their Service Management solution to improve grid reliability, enhance Call Center support, optimize resources, and to reduce service costs. The partnership started with a visioning session to identify various ways that IoT and AI could improve grid reliability and improve the utilization of their limited resources.  While creating a Connected Field Service vision, it was determined that the underlying Field Service Management system was not well positioned to achieve the utility company’s long-term goals.  After getting them connected with a trusted partner to deliver a modern Service Management solution, we prioritized the AIoT use cases and agreed success measures. Connectivity was the next challenge.  While key infrastructure data is available in various business systems, the data model was not complete.  Spoke AIOT helped the utility company sensorized key infrastructure components and establish real-time data streams to the AIOT-cloud. Once the data was flowing, Spoke AIOT’s out-of-the-box Service tools quickly enabled remote performance monitoring, predictive analytics, and service workflow automation.  These capabilities helped ensure the grid was operating as necessary and could immediately notify the Field Service team if an issue arose.  In the field, the Service Technicians were able to see real-time and historic asset data to help them quickly triage and resolve issues.  In the background, Spoke AIOT was collecting and analyzing the asset data over time; identifying performance trends, identifying wasteful patterns, predicting issues, and creating recommendations to avoid unplanned asset downtime. Spoke AIOT helped improve grid reliability by providing real-time insights to operating conditions and predicting failures and improved resource utilization by improving technician productivity in the field.

How Spoke AIoT helped this Customer

Remote Monitoring & Alerts

With access to real-time grid data, Spoke AIOT was able to remotely monitor infrastructure components’ performance across the grid to help ensure service reliability.  Spoke AIOT was configured to provide real-time notifications when performance anomalies were detected or when an unplanned change of state occurred.  And with close integration to the utility company’s mapping system, infrastructure status is visualized for “at a glance” monitoring. To avoid false-positives, Spoke AIOT partnered with the utility company to define data cleansing and validation protocols to help ensure the Service team is focusing on the right messages.

Analytics & Predictive Maintenance

With access to real-time device data, AIoT solutions can perpetually monitor infrastructure performance to help ensure utilities are up and running as expected. As infrastructure components are perpetually being replaced due to storm damage and other influences, the next generation solutions are coming with advanced sensors and connectivity out of the box.  This utility company has an install base of connected transformers that monitor performance and condition; enabling  time series AI algorithms to predict load losses before they occur.

Improve Service Outcomes

With Spoke AIOT’s ability to remotely access and control devices from the Spoke AIOT app, the utility company enabled their Call Center Agents to triage and deliver select services remotely.  This helped avoid unnecessary truck rolls; reducing service response time and costs. When field-based service is required, having access to real-time and historic asset data helps field technicians quickly and accurately diagnose and resolve issues. The utility company enabled their field technicians with the Spoke AIOT mobile app so they have more information about the grid and specific infrastructure components as part of their triage process. With these insights, the field technicians can quickly identify root causes; enabling them to spend less time figuring out what was wrong and improve their chances of fixing the issue right first time.

Service Process Automation

While there are countless opportunities to leverage real-time data to automate service processes, one of the most impactful contributions that AIoT solutions can make to utility companies is the automation of Service Response. In utilities, uptime is everything. Customers depend on it and revenue is directly tied to consumption; which requires the infrastructure to be operational. When unplanned outages occur, AIoT systems that are closely integrated with Field Service solutions can immediately coordinate the service restoration response by indicating (geo-fencing) the areas where service disruption has been confirmed and dispatching the Service team accountable for those areas. While this utility company uses Spoke AIOT to automate Service team notifications, work order creation, and dispatch, they also use Spoke AIOT to automate updates to their public communication channels to help mitigate inbound calls to the Call Center during critical times. While customer meters are not yet connected, this utility company has a plan to adopt connected meters to automate readings and speed time to invoice.  And should a connected meter come offline, Spoke AIOT can automate the creation of service work order and dispatch a field technician to evaluate the offline meter.

Technician Safety

Personal safety has always been a key aspect of delivering utility services.  As with all industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised the bar for safety requirements. Spoke AIOT has helped this utility company improve personal safety by enabling them to evaluate and confirm the need for on-site service before dispatching a technician. While many utility service sites are outdoors and considered lower risk, avoiding the need to go on-site eliminates the safety risks altogether. When on-site service is necessary, Spoke AIOT augments existing safety protocols by providing system confirmation of safe working environments. Field technicians can visually confirm that a circuit is offline after a Lock-on/Lock-out. In cases where failures create public and personal safety issues such as down power lines, the ability to remotely stop service from the Service Management system eliminates the safety issues prior to and during the service event.

Asset Management

Utility Service teams are dependent on fleet vehicles and heavy equipment to be available and reliable. The utility company’s fleet vehicles are connected and capable of broadcasting location, condition, and performance data.  Spoke AIOT was configured to include an asset class for the fleet vehicles so they could be managed like any other field-based asset.  Vehicle utilization generates usage-based preventative service orders to ensure the fleet is properly maintained.  Vehicles that travel outside of the work location, operate outside of planned service windows, or exceed speed thresholds automatically create a notification for the service team to investigate. 

Beyond Service

There are several opportunities to leverage connected assets and AIoT-enabled solution in the utilities industry beyond Service. For example, regulatory reports on asset utilization and insights gained from monitored utilities can enable local officials to better understand demand for utilities services to support forecasting and planning.

Quick Wrap-up and Call to Action

From improving service efficiency and effectiveness to ensuring the uptime of critical utilities, AIoT-enabled Service can transform how utility services are maintained. Talk to an Expert at Spoke AIOT to learn more about how connected assets and AIoT-enabled solutions can transform your utilities Service team.

Benefits Summary

  • Improve Asset Uptime/Reliability
  • Immediate notification of failure
  • Service Workflow Automation
  • Reduce Service Response Time
  • Avoid Service Cost
  • Reduce Service Cost
  • Improved First Time Fix (FTF) / Reduced Repeat Repair Visits (RRVs)
  • Improve Workforce Productivity & Utilization
  • Improve Technician Safety
  • Simplify Regulatory reporting

The future is AIoT enabled Service

Artificial Intelligence can exponentially increase the value of IoT by using all the data from the asset/install base to accurately predict outcomes and promote a collective intelligence.