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How to Deliver New Levels of Mobility Productivity: Part I

For utilities, adopting mobile technology – a rugged tablet PC and similar devices – is essential to boost productivity. But it’s only the beginning.

Learn how beverage distribution companies such as Ben E. Keith are leveraging rugged tablets to increase sales.

rugged tablet pc mobility beverage distribution

 

The largest multi-state utilities might face more complex issues than the smallest collectives, but every utility has to keep customers, investors and regulators happy. So whether your coverage area is vast or small, you’re serving millions or a modest number of customers, you need comprehensive, enterprise-wide solutions that enable devices like your rugged tablet PC to maximize mobility productivity.  

Why?

Customers are ever-more demanding. They expect low rates and they have little patience with service disruptions regardless of the cause. Even the Energy Policy Act of 2004 and a variety of state and other guidelines stress the importance of increasing uptime and customer service.

Shareholders expect tightly controlled financial management in the face of high and unpredictable energy prices and other significant challenges.

You’re responsible for efficiently managing assets, both human and physical. You have to maintain safety and security and be able to identify and respond to problems before they disrupt service. You need no-fail communication with other utilities, government and emergency services personnel in the event of a natural disaster.

You have to do more, with less, and do it better and faster. All while continuing to reduce costs wherever possible. All without sacrificing profitability. It’s daunting.

That’s why you need a fully-integrated enterprise-wide solution.

From production to field service, accounting to customer service, everything about your operation is interconnected. The only way to achieve peak performance is through streamlining – replacing manual tasks with automation that provides greater accuracy, efficiency and visibility.

A comprehensive solution can smoothly and cost-effectively connect your infrastructure, workforce and customers. To do so, it must incorporate these key components:

  • Connectivity. Wireless voice and data networks are essential to enable real-time monitoring, data capture and two-way communication with workers and equipment, wherever they are.
  • Applications. Industry-specific software supports SCADA networks, automated metering and meter-reading and asset management and easily interface with your own enterprise applications.
  • Mobile devices. A rugged tablet PC is the foundation of any integrated system, providing the all-important link between infrastructure and people. It facilitates two-way voice and data transfer necessary to carry out daily work and monitor everything from power costs to customer demands and usage. Ruggedness is vital. Equipment has to function reliably for long periods of time, even if it gets banged around, hot, cold, wet or dirty. A rugged tablet PC can stand up to any environment, yet it’s versatile enough to accommodate diverse personnel needs, with powerful computing, wireless communication, barcode scanning and reading, GIS, imaging and other built-in features.
  • Management capability. A centralized, automated system speeds work processes and assures accuracy. It supports remote collection of customer data for billing and remote monitoring of equipment, including early detection and resolution of problems. It provides top network security and records data to help you analyze and correct any security breakdowns that occur.  

Achieving a fully-integrated system and 100% visibility throughout your operation is no longer wishful thinking. It’s a requirement if your utility is going to thrive in the future.

In our next article we’ll examine the specific benefits you can realize by transitioning to a comprehensive solution and look at some real-life examples of how utilities large and small are putting these best practices to use.

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