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UK Utilities Industry Turns to Panasonic Rugged Mobile Technology to Boost Field Worker Productivity

UK Power Networks
UK Power Networks

BRACKNELL, UK, 28TH MAY 2015 The UK utilities industry is increasingly turning to Panasonic rugged Toughbook notebooks and Toughpad tablets to boost productivity for its field workers and improve customer service.

Yorkshire Water Using 3 different Panasonic rugged devices

Yorkshire Water is currently rolling-out Panasonic Toughbook CF-C2 notebooks, one of the most durable and flexible business convertible PCs in the market, for its customer-facing mobile workers such as meter readers. This semi-rugged device is ideal for displaying information to customers in a PC or tablet format, is lighter than its fully rugged counterparts and has a hand strap for easily holding in one hand and recording information.

Employees such as Yorkshire Water’s Meica Engineers who commission new sites and maintain systems, use the semi-rugged Panasonic Toughbook CF-53 notebooks. These engineers require a larger, 14 inch HD screen to view detailed system drawings and the ability to connect the notebook to legacy systems for system monitoring and diagnostics.

Yorkshire Water’s field technicians, including clean water and waste water technicians, as well as its works contractors use the fully rugged Panasonic Toughbook CF-19 notebooks. These devices are designed to deal with the harshest weather conditions in the field. They travel with the staff and are used to receive and record real-time job information, identify work locations and assets using the GIS capabilities and provide access to the mobile office wherever they are required.

Yorkshire Water has worked closely with Panasonic Toughbook for almost 15 years to ensure its staff has the best mobile technology to hand to continuously improve their service.

With more than 1,500 Panasonic devices deployed to its mobile workforce, Yorkshire Water uses the Panasonic Toughbook notebooks to improve the efficiency of its teams whether in the hands of its customer-facing staff, field engineers and technicians or contractors.

“When we first started to use Panasonic mobile technology, almost 15 years ago, we deployed one type of rugged device but because of the changes in our business and advances in mobile technology that approach has changed significantly over time,” explained Darren Metcalfe, Client Services Engineering Team Leader at Yorkshire Water. “Today, we let the requirements of the different field staff help define the type of Panasonic Toughbook notebooks we deploy.”

Darren continued, “Whatever the job and device they use, the Panasonic Toughbook notebooks are the most essential piece of kit for our mobile workers. They are their lifeline to the organisation.”

Operating more than 700 water and sewage treatment works and 120 reservoirs, Yorkshire Water supplies around 1.3 billion litres of drinking water each day and collects, treats and disposes of about one billion litres of waste water safely back into the environment

UK Power Networks

When UK Power Networks implemented a business transformation process to improve customer service and make savings through efficiencies, a fundamental step in the process was equipping its field engineers with a single, mobile computing device to meet their needs. Today, the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 tablet is being rolled out to 2,500+ field staff across the business and the device is a critical communication tool.

Connected via 3G to the company’s SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, the field staff receive their job instructions through the device using mobile SAP applications, which have been called ‘My Jobs’ on the tablets.

The engineers are able to access real-time and offline maps, asset information, health and safety and policy and procedure information. They then report and record their activity on the device and the information is relayed in real-time back to the central systems. When there is limited connectivity, the information is stored on the device and relayed when connection is re-established.

“Our colleagues can be found up poles and down holes and often in very difficult working environments so the mobile device we chose was critical to the success of the project,” said Jon Mason, a UK Power Networks lead field engineer and seconded head of mobile solutions for Business Transformation.

Jon continued, ““It was very important to us that the workforce had a strong voice in the choice of device and that there was high user acceptance. They put the devices through their paces and the rugged Panasonic Toughpad tablet won hands down.”

“The ruggedness of the Panasonic Toughpad was very important to our field staff and also the ability to read the tablet screen in daylight. When the team went out into direct sunlight it was a clear winner for visibility.”

UK Power Networks owns and maintains the electricity cables and lines across London, the South East and East of England, keeping the lights on for the population. Its 2,500 field engineers maintain and upgrade power equipment, move and connect new electricity cables and carry out maintenance near or on overhead power lines.

Paul Davidson, Corporate Sales Manager for Utilities at Panasonic Toughbook, said: “The UK utilities industry has undergone a period of massive change over the past decade. These changes have placed new demands on the industry to be ever more effective and customer service orientated. The utilities industry understands that providing mobile workers with the right specialist computing tools, tailored to their needs, delivers huge improvements in productivity and a more effective workforce. Yorkshire Water and UK Power Networks are two leading examples of this progress.”

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