Many of Scottish Power's customers and power sites are in rural and sometimes isolated locations. It's imperative that engineers are able to get onsite as quickly as possible if ever there's a fault. So find out how Telefónica O2 partnered with Scottish Power to launch a flexible and cost-effective mobile solution that's helping 1,200 Scottish Power engineers meet its ambitious customer service targets.
"We've seen real benefits in the response times to system faults, which translates into improved customer service and satisfaction. That means potentially millions of pounds of savings for our business."
Bill Maternaghan, Network Installation Engineer, Scottish Power
Scottish Power is one of the five largest energy companies in the world. It has a number of businesses: generating electricity, operating and maintaining large power delivery networks and providing a full range of energy supply services. The company serves 5 million homes and businesses in the UK and western United States, employing 33,000 people.
With a network that's long enough to stretch three times around the world, keeping everything running isn't easy; especially as some of its 650,000 individual sites are in the most remote areas of the UK.
Keeping the lights on, everywhere
For Scottish Power to meet its ambitious customer service targets, faults need to be fixed fast. As Bill Maternaghan, network installation engineer for Scottish Power puts it, "When the lights go out, it's our responsibility to get them back on in the shortest possible time."
This means getting engineers onsite quickly, even in far-flung locations in the wilds of Scotland. Traditionally, its workers have had to rely on local knowledge and map reading, but Scottish Power's mobile workforce needed a quicker, more effective solution.
Matching customers needs with bespoke solutions
Scottish Power began looking for a partner to enable an efficient mobile workforce; one that could help the company restore supplies to its customer bases as rapidly as possible.
"We wanted to equip 1,200 of our engineers with mobile devices, but we started the project with a provider that couldn't meet all of our business requirements. At that time, we were working with Telefónica O2 for our mobile phone contract, so we invited them to propose a mobile solution for us," Maternaghan says.
Telefónica O2 Account Manager, Laurence Daly, began working closely with Scottish Power to understand its business, what was important for those working in the field and where Telefónica O2 solutions could add value. "We had our data specialists develop an in-house solution that Scottish Power could test, free of charge," Daly says. "We created an Xda-based Satellite Navigation solution and the response was overwhelmingly positive."
Daly and his team immediately got to work making sure that Scottish Power's entire network had the required coverage. Telefónica O2 engineers then checked the mobile signal at each of Scottish Power's remote sites and fitted additional amplification equipment where required.
Using the robust, highly secure Xda
The actual Satellite Navigation project entailed using an Xda device with a Sat Nav programme installed on it for 1,200 workers.
The tri-band GSM Xda Argon was chosen for its large touch screen and built-in security settings, including the ability to remotely wipe information from any lost devices. With no moving parts, the robust Xda Argon was also perfect for the rugged back roads of the Scottish Highlands.
One of Scottish Power's primary concerns was security. So Telefónica O2 encrypted both the Xda device and the SD card inside. The devices can also be controlled remotely for additional security. This means all data can be encrypted from a central point or head office, as can the installation and monitoring of applications. Additionally, the Telefonica O2 team customised the Microsoft® application to remove any items that were not required by Scottish Power.
"We had the requirement for 1,200 of our workforce to receive the Xda," says Maternaghan. "Telefónica O2 not only provided the solution but offered to pre-configure the Xda for us so it was ready to go, straight from the box. Everything started working right away."
Now as Scottish Power receive notification of an issue with its network, they poll their engineers to determine who is the nearest to the fault. Once the engineer accepts the job, the co-ordinates of the fault are automatically downloaded onto the device itself and the route is planned for them.
"All of the hassle has been taken away and we have the peace of mind that comes from knowing our data is held securely," Maternaghan says.
Should an engineer lose their device, it can't be used by someone who isn't authorised to do so. And should that device be found again, the Xda can be remotely rebuilt and its setting restored.
A flourishing partnership
Telefónica O2's Daly points out: "In mobile technology, nothing stays the same for long. That's why part of our service is to continue working with Scottish Power to ensure the solution is kept up to date with changes in hardware and software".
All in all, Scottish Power's partnership with Telefónica O2 has been a successful and productive one.
As Maternaghan puts it, "We've seen real benefits in the response times to system faults, which translates into improved customer service and satisfaction. That means potentially millions of pounds of savings for our business".
With a network the size of Scottish Power's, that's no small thing.