Empowering Electrical Contractors with Smart Technology

tech_insights.gifIt’s no secret that the nature of work is shifting. Across all industries, the makeup of the workforce continues to evolve as baby boomers increasingly retire and millennials become the largest demographic among U.S. employees. Amidst the Digital Age, new connected technologies and the proliferation of available information have transformed buzzwords like the cloud, digitization, Internet of Things, and big data into inescapable components of business operation and strategy. Established industry titans are looking for ways to maintain their market share against emerging disruptors with new products, services, and business models.

All of this can be said about most industries – and it’s a landscape that rings true for electrical contractors. With an ever-keen attention to budgetary restrictions, there’s pressure to implement new ideas and technologies that will improve the bottom line and create additional value for customers.

Chances are you have a smartphone with applications on it for personal and business use. Have you considered applications for your service teams? Mobile technologies in particular can help electrical contractors improve their operations by bridging the gap between people and data.

BUILDING EFFICIENCY THROUGH MOBILE TECHNOLOGY

When thinking about ideas to improve efficiency it’s beneficial to identify both priorities and pain points as well as the most critical components of running a service business. Maintenance and reporting are key pillars of an electrical service operation, whereas collaboration and communication are areas where hurdles exist. The technology is available today to help address these priorities and pain points. For example, electrical contractors would greatly benefit from a “smart logbook” application available on their web browsers and phones that helps them organize maintenance records, follow up on preventative maintenance, access log histories, create reports for customers, view energy data, and integrate remote alarming from equipment.

Many industry professionals hesitate to veer from the tried and true approach of using pen and paper or spreadsheets to schedule reminders, log maintenance operations and equipment data, and create reports. Historically, that was the only option available short of investing in an enterprise-level solution, but technological advancements now enable them to simplify maintenance operations through their smartphone, tablet, or web browser.

Electrical contractors can now electronically record information and store it in one location – backed up on the cloud – instead of having to shuffle between disparate stacks of paper or files that can easily get mixed up and lost. Better yet, without even having to type in descriptors of the equipment, they can conveniently tag equipment with specific QR codes and scan with their smartphone to access past maintenance logs, user guides, wiring diagrams, or other resources for each specific piece of equipment. Technology is even beginning to incorporate geolocation – enabling users to take photos of equipment and tag where it is in the facility, making it easy to locate. In totality, this functionality provides all relevant data at the electrician’s fingertips. Instead of carrying paper logs and diagrams, contractors just need to carry a compact device.

To truly drive efficiency, an application should incorporate more than data availability and remote, mobile access – it should be about enabling collaboration and control. At most sites, there are various stakeholders, internal and external, involved and accessing the same equipment. They tend to work on different schedules and it’s easy to imagine the communication silos that are a byproduct of this arrangement.

Electrical contractors would greatly benefit from being able to log t