The energy and utilities industry relies heavily on its people. Even with the increasing presence of automation, people are still at the center of operations and essential for maintenance and administration. But the workforce needs to bring diverse skills and agility to respond to a more dynamic and changing industry.
The recent pandemic disruption has added pressure to focus even more on the safety. Keeping employees healthy and safe is always the number one priority, and companies are adapting to new employee-wellbeing standards on multiple levels.
Now is the time to uncover new opportunities in the industry. Companies should focus on streamlining human performance with digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation to reduce human error and accelerate work. This approach can also support employee safety while reducing costs.
Before the disruption, US companies were already recognizing the potential savings of automation. According to our research, US utilities providers lead the world in deployment of intelligent automation (IA), with 23% of companies currently leveraging IA. The estimated annual global savings of automation in the utilities industry is $237 to $813 billion, so the opportunity is significant.
While risk management and efficiency have always been important, we are now seeing the demand for a strategy that places safety alongside productivity. Digital technologies are a perfect fit for the task, especially as the use of smart technologies increases. Through built-in sensors, analytics, and communications systems, connected wearables enable smart field operations, ensuring greater safety in the workplace through real-time alerts and data mining while identifying gaps in staff utilization to improve productivity.
For example, Capgemini offers a wearable and cloud-based solution for real-time tracking of workers and equipment in facilities, which also captures and tracks time spent on work orders and provides proximity alerts and notifications for safer work and reporting. Remote work solutions like this can reduce the number of employees needed onsite or redeploy employees to more value-added work.
The new normal in the industry will also require a workforce that is more flexible than before. A scalable project-delivery model based on industry best practices, strong project-management teams, and optimized contracting strategies will still be important but now, alongside a focus on safety and productivity, there will be a new standard for project excellence.
People will continue to be responsible for powering the future of the industry, but they must be kept safe as they work to drive operational success. They need to adapt to dynamic market changes. Automation and new technologies will support the need for more flexibility during times of disruptions. Companies must make the most of current opportunities and adapt to new ways of working.
Satish Surendran is a Vice President at Capgemini with the Energy & Utilities team.
He helps clients transform their business to deliver growth.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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