2020: Delivering an ‘impossible target’

As 2020 looms nearer, so the government’s target of smart meter installation in every home seems increasingly ambitious. Recent research by the Which? Group shows that even operating for 24 hours, 7 days a week, companies will collectively need to install meters at a rate of 24 per minute to hit the roll-out target.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in response to Which? Group’s research, has said energy suppliers are planning to ramp up their deployments through 2018. However, like any installation service, it’s one thing saying “let’s ramp up our delivery” but another entirely being able to achieve this, especially without damaging margins. So how can businesses increase their monthly rollout, without escalating costs?

  • Effective Planning

Planning is a necessity in any environment, none more so than in a planned installation environment. Whilst this seems obvious, a challenge many of our clients often face is getting effective planning in place. In order to maximise the delivery of Smart Meters, there are three key areas of planning which should be focused on; a targeted roll out plan, effective use of planning guidelines (PGLs) and effective scheduling of your engineers. Regional focus for installation is a given, but suppliers should go further focusing on tying up customers within post code areas to prevent engineers from carrying out multiple visits to the same streets, a targeted roll-out plan will enable this. Secondly, PGLs are a key tool in driving performance of any operation, by setting optimal job times, each day can be planned to optimise working hours. Setting PGLs and having a targeted roll out plan, should empower Planning Teams to create robust schedules for their engineers, minimising travel time between jobs and driving engineer utilisation and productivity.

  • Appropriate Control

Once your plan is in place, it’s important that organisations manage the control of that plan. How often are you checking in with engineers to see how their day is going? If you’re waiting for a call at 16:30 telling you they won’t make their final jobs, not only are you letting the customer down, but you’re firefighting issues that could have been addressed earlier in the day. By looking at Plan vs. Actual, on a daily, weekly, monthly basis management are able to identify issues preventing delivery, and generate actions to address them. Without an effective process to identify, capture, and address issues, it’s easy for operations to slip out of control preventing targets from being met, and profit margins to be diminished.

  • Actively Managing Delivery

The impact of planning and control is only heightened, when engineers are actively managed within the organisation. This more often than not, requires a behavioural change across all levels of the business; taking roles and moving them from a passive to a more active style of management. Once you’ve embedded these principles, within an active Management Operating System, we’d expect to see performance increase by at least twenty percent.

With only two years to go, current figures show installation needs to increase from 400,000 to 1.05 million Smart Meters a month to meet deadlines. If you’re under increasing pressure to meet targets and remain profitable, we’d be happy to discuss how we can help you. Often it’s about having an extra pair of hands to help re-engineer and bring back control within an operation, allowing you time to focus on the ‘nice to haves’ which may have previously been out of reach.