Increasing First-Time Fix Rate With The Right Technology During Unplanned Outages

Francesco Benvenuto
November 9, 2023

Unexpected downtime are the bane of any utility’s existence. No matter how prepared a utility is, things happen — equipment breaks, pipes burst, and power lines snap, causing major disturbances to critical energy services.

Unplanned outages doesn’t just adversely affect energy customers. It can throw a wrench into the entirety of a utility’s operations, causing work backlogs, revenue losses, and even damage to the company’s reputation. And when an issue can’t be resolved on the very first visit, complications quickly ensue. 

Understanding First-Time Fix Rate (FTFR)

First-time fix rate (FTFR) refers to the percentage of service jobs that technicians successfully complete during their initial field visit. FTFR is a vital metric as it measures customer satisfaction and reduces resource expenditure for utilities. Sending multiple crews to the same site for repeated repairs is both costly and inefficient. Additionally, each revisit contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and increases a utility’s carbon footprint.

That’s why examining your FTFR can be the key to unlocking more productive and efficient workflows — all while bolstering your customer service capabilities.

First-Time Fix Rates: Common Challenges

Boosting your FTFR is easier said than done. Without the right technology, utilities struggle to gain a competitive foothold and increase their FTFR. Common challenges include: 

  • Incomplete Information: Insufficient or inaccurate information about the issue or asset in question can lead to technicians arriving at the site unprepared, resulting in an inability to resolve the problem on the first visit.
  • Lack of Access to Relevant Data: Without the right technology, technicians may not have access to critical data, such as equipment manuals, historical maintenance records, or asset information, when they are on-site. This can hinder their ability to diagnose and address issues promptly.
  • Inadequate Training: Technicians may not have the necessary skills or training to handle certain types of repairs or maintenance tasks, leading to errors, delays, or incomplete fixes.
  • Complex or Unfamiliar Equipment: When technicians encounter complex or unfamiliar equipment or assets, they may struggle to diagnose and repair issues, leading to lower FTFR.
  • Communication Barriers: Poor communication between field technicians and remote support teams can lead to misunderstandings or delays in obtaining guidance or additional information to complete the job.
  • Inadequate Tools for Remote Assistance: Lack of tools for technicians to receive real-time remote assistance from experts can result in the inability to resolve complex issues on the first visit.
  • Greater Asset Volume: Wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations, battery storage systems, and other assets are being increasingly deployed as the energy transition takes hold of utilities. Consider that utilities are managing 10 times the amount of assets than they were 20 years ago. The mix of new assets and legacy equipment can be unfamiliar to technicians and present technical challenges.   

Leveraging the right tools is critical for mitigating these issues and improving FTFR. That’s where field collaboration technology comes in. 

Field Collaboration Technology: The Key To Unlocking Higher First-Time Fix Rates

Field collaboration software enables real-time collaboration between users, anywhere, to dramatically improve job completion rates. Through a virtual, interactive environment, engineers and experts can see and share valuable information, documents, best practices, guidance and expertise, for faster problem resolution and error reduction. What’s more, digital work instructions provide a step-by-step approach for the accurate and compliant execution of activities from start to finish. 

Field collaboration technology provides technicians with access to comprehensive information about the service request before they arrive on-site. It also enables them to access critical data, such as equipment manuals, maintenance records, and asset information, in real-time through mobile apps or wearable devices. Field workers can quickly retrieve the information they need to diagnose and address issues promptly, eliminating delays caused by data unavailability. Field collaboration tools also allow technicians to connect with experts in real time, from anywhere, with video calling features. 

Additionally, most software includes instructions and training modules that guide technicians step-by-step through repair and maintenance tasks. These digital guides offer real-time support, ensuring that even less experienced technicians can perform tasks accurately and confidently. Not only does this save utilities time and money during the training process, but it also empowers technicians to feel confident on their own on new assets and sites. 

Finally, Augmented Reality (AR) features in field collaboration technology allow technicians to overlay digital information onto physical equipment. When encountering complex or unfamiliar assets, technicians can use AR to access virtual guides and expert annotations. This aids in diagnosing issues and performing repairs correctly, even on unfamiliar equipment.

Ultimately, field collaboration technology empowers technicians with access to critical resources when they’re needed most, reducing the risk for human error and thereby improving their FTFR. Take Edenor, the leading electricity distribution company in Argentina, for example. By deploying a field collaboration solution, the company reduced travel costs by 30% and improved FTFR by 25% by optimizing work orders. And Enel, the largest Italian multinational electricity utility, has seen a 52% productivity increase through remotely supervising quality checks with field collaboration software.  

The proper technology strongly impacts first-time fix rates

Unplanned outages are unwelcome disruptions that demand swift resolution. These unforeseen events, ranging from equipment failures to infrastructure damages, not only inconvenience energy customers but also ripple through the utility’s efficiency and reputation. The true challenge arises when these issues persist beyond the initial service call, leading to complications that drain resources and harm the environment.

Field collaboration technology equips technicians with critical resources to resolve issues on the first try, reducing the risk of human error, elevating FTFR, and, consequently, enhancing the customer service experience and driving down costs. 

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