Today, utilities already use a variety of mobile solutions for various activities, like work order management, filling in data such as meter identification at a changeout, work hour reporting, safety and quality reporting, and even managing the surveillance cameras at substations. On top of those, there are the services for the utility customers, for example, for checking their consumption data or reporting an outage. Also - and quite importantly - many of our customers have their field crews bring the network to the field in tablets or smartphones with Utility To Go, using it, for example, in network planning, maintenance including component inspections, and operations both by in-house technicians and contractors.
Drawing from his interest that I introduced previously, the backcasting methodology, Tarmo Mere, Segment Director for Electric & Gas at Trimble Energy, encourages utilities to consider their decisions and actions today, in order to gain a better tomorrow. “As for the technologies affecting the utility business, for example the solar power will evolve, and it will become more efficient and more affordable for households and companies alike,” he states.
Looking at the development pace for alternative energy sources, it’s only a question of time when a disruptive innovation wipes over the utility business. So what could be done today to keep the utilities in business, and what does the regulation have to do with it?
I had the privilege to participate in a really cool workshop with representatives from the biggest Finnish electric utilities from all over the country, held last month during the Finnish Trimble User Days. The workshop went by the name of 3D and augmented reality for distribution utilities, but it actually focused mostly on mixed reality - combining and positioning virtual and real objects with one another - and finding ways for utilities to make it beneficial, for real.
There is no point in fixing bits and pieces, when it’s the big picture that matters. Benoit Mallen, business area director at Trimble Energy North America, is driven by helping utilities transform their overall business functions to be more effective, whether that be about software or internal processes, staking or outage management, investments or maintenance - it all counts.
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