The utility industry is notorious for being manual, physically demanding, and labor-intensive. As such, automation and technological innovations have been slow to take hold. While similar industries like energy embrace these operational changes, the utility industry remains stuck in a hands-on space. In fact, in a survey from the Capgemini Research Institute, only a measly 17% of utility firms have deployed robotic use cases at scale.
Whether for fears of job loss, higher initial investments, or simply the unknown, those within the field are traditionally resistant to change. But current trends and a generational shift of power towards eager, younger workers show that utilizing intelligent assets is not only possible but also profitable. In the same report, those polled claimed to have saved anywhere from $237-$813 billion by developing automation processes and migrating their workforce to supervisory positions. Let’s explore how automation works to streamline productivity and record-keeping across utility organizations.
Productivity Gains from Robotics Process Automation
The tangible benefits automation provides are most evident in productivity gains. With machine learning, drone technology, or artificial intelligence taking over repetitive, simple tasks, field workers are free to tackle more intellectually challenging issues. Such duties impacted by automation include power generation regulation, compliance verification, asset inspections, small IT adjustments, and the like. This trend is commonly referred to as robotics process automation (RPA), and is now being used by some of the largest names in the utility sector to reduce errors and maintain 24/7 service.
Efficient Record-Keeping Due to Centralization
But where does all of this data go?
If we look at the historical context, a myriad of content hosting systems and physical documents. Understandably, this makes it even more difficult for workers looking to track down asset information or context for client questions. Remaining efficient while searching for operations, finance, or archival data is unlikely and can potentially damage customer relationships. For the convenience of automation to truly come to fruition, these systems must impact each business sector: Documentation centralization or digitization is a great first start.
For those looking to completely transform their businesses, automation has applications in nearly every department. As one can see, use cases for innovation abound in fieldwork – and we haven’t even discussed asset inspection or emergency preparedness in-depth. It’s only a matter of time before this lasting trend takes hold of the utility industry, and those first to implement the technology will receive the largest immediate payoff.