- Pen and paper work orders
- Systems not talking to each other
- Slow administration and data entry
Since 1889, Jämtkraft has been producing and distributing electricity in the north of Sweden. Their grid encompasses many different types of renewable energy, from hydroelectricity to wind power, bioenergy, and solar power.
In 2017, Jämtkraft was searching for ways to streamline work orders within the power grid operation. But there aren’t many process applications built especially for our type of business , says Patrik Forslund, Systems Manager at Jämtkraft:
“If you’re a technician repairing a fridge, it’s quite a simple work order flow. It’s not as intense in reporting and control as we have when we’re working with high-power electricity. We have many more regulations than a standard service technician has. So, we needed to be able to build our own process steps: what to report when and so on.
“Other suppliers would tell us that they could do that, but it would involve massive customization from the standard process they’d already built.”
In addition, Jämtkraft technicians managed their work orders the old-fashioned way: with pen and paper.
“They had a binder with all the documents telling them how the work should go. The filled out reports were mailed back to the office then entered into the system,” says Forslund.
With this setup, it could take days—or even weeks—for information to get into the system, which could lead to delays in billing and administration. There was also a high risk of human error.
“The knowledge of the work order status was in the heads of the technicians,” says Håkan Hagberg, Data Protection Officer at Jämtkraft. ” They’d document things once they got back to the office. It wasn’t always thorough, to be honest: we had no real control over the work orders and the state the work was in.”
- Mobile work orders (online/offline)
- Real-time data collection
- System integration
Novacura began working with Jämtkraft at the beginning of 2017. Together, they created a roadmap of short-term and long-term projects to integrate Jämtkraft’s various business systems, improve productivity, and reduce administration time.
The first order of business was system integration. In 2017, Jämtkraft had approximately 329 employees—and close to 200 different applications. So before building integrated tools, Jämtkraft’s systems, needed within the power grid operation, had to be able to communicate with IFS/Novacura Flow.
“Jämtkraft had a lot of different systems that weren’t talking to each other, or weren’t connected,” says Albin Lundberg, Consultant at Novacura.
“So our first goal was to make sure everything was talking to each other, and all the data was flowing into IFS. Novacura Flow helps simplify that process.”
The second item on the list was mobile work orders. Working with Novacura consultants, Jämtkraft created custom work order applications that allow technicians to record data on mobile devices, both online and offline. Through a mobile device, the technician can:
- access all the information associated with the work order, including contact information (phone and email)
- record their progress on every stage of the work order, and report their progress to the back office
- use barcode scanning capabilities to reduce manual data entry and improve data quality
- collect important information on-site, including photos and signatures
“The reporting itself is easier to do if you fill out the reports while you’re working,” says Forslund. “The lead time is much shorter now. If you’re employing younger people, you have to give them new tools. They don’t accept working in an old-fashioned way. You need to show that you’re a company that works on developing your processes and systems.”
- Better data quality
- Shorter lead times
- Increased coordination
“There’s much more collaboration between departments now,” says Forslund. “Before, everyone had different systems. We had a lot of manual routines and inhouse solutions—like SharePoint working rooms—where we were sharing information, but everything still had to be reported manually. Now you can do it on the phone or your tablet.”
“The initial implementation was very fast: 5 or 6 months,” says Hagberg. “We had no understanding of how fast this would go, and had no chance to communicate with the field operators in that time frame. We had to wait a long time to actually start using the system in a more useful way, because we first had to train people on how to use the system.”
After the initial launch of the mobile work order flows, Jämtkraft has put Novacura Flow to use in many different departments. In addition to process-based apps for technicians and inspectors, they’ve made applications to help with distribution, maintenance, purchasing, warehouse management, and equipment handling.
For example: at the beginning of the Flow project, a technician could report their work orders through the Flow app. But now, when they’re in the work order, they can also issue materials, do returns on materials, and a whole lot more.
“We connected the work orders that have demand on materials and equipment into IFS and Flow,” says Forslund. “Before they could just do work orders: now they can do work orders and inventory, and report into multiple systems at the same time.”
The result is that Jämtkraft can manage their business processes—and their data—exactly how they want to.
“While we haven’t measured the results officially, I can say that Novacura Flow has likely saved us a lot of time and money,” says Hagberg. “The work order process is much faster, we spend less money on licensing fees for different systems, and technicians can plan their daily routes which cuts down on travel time and fuel.”
“I like the idea that you start with the process,” says Forslund. “What should we see? What should we report? And then we build that in Novacura Flow Studio so you can control your processes—and you can change your processes by changing them in the application.”
“Working with Novacura has been an eye-opener for us,” says Hagberg. “Now other business areas want to use Flow as well. At first, we didn’t realize exactly what we had purchased with Novacura Flow. It wasn’t only an integrated work order management application. Now that we understand it, we’re trying different ways to use it.”
“If we hadn’t purchased Novacura Flow, we would have bought specialized systems for each of our projects. We could have three different systems for three different business areas. We’re aiming to use less systems, not more: lots of money is spent on licenses, development, etc. So, we’re pretty happy that we chose Novacura.”