Challenges at ENGIE
ENGIE US oversees a number of energy related services from solar, battery and cogeneration design, installation and post maintenance services and is responsible for supplying energy to nearly 50 percent of Fortune 100 companies. With an estimated peak load totaling nearly 13,000 MW, in addition to providing electricity services to residential and small businesses in 12 US states, ENGIE has become one of the world’s major solar energy suppliers.
With traditional post-construction maintenance and production, site technicians rely upon straightforward processes and check-lists to aid in identifying discrepancies and reporting on them. In many cases—specifically for ENGIE who operates and supports thousands of individual work sites across the US— obtaining and reporting on the right information is crucial to the success and future of the company.
Jamal Aboueljoud, the Director of Post-Construction Services for ENGIE’s California branch, leads a team of about 10 O&M technicians who are considered the lifeblood that keeps the company branch going. “We maintain the [site system] so that it is operating and producing the energy that is guaranteed…making my department a critical part in maintaining the system properly,” said Aboueljoud.
Inefficient Report Generation
The primary issue that Aboueljoud and his crew faced was a lack of efficiency in their report generation process. “It literally took us months to capture the right information and to go back and decipher it (into a report),” he says. For Aboueljoud and his crew, taking weeks to generate reports for nearly 550 sites annually meant they had to manually organize their data assets—from a single folder—to reflect the correct project site, which took a substantial amount of time to complete.
“It was not fun,” said Erica Sutton, who leads Operations and Accounts, and was responsible for manually compiling every report by hand. “Before Scoop, I had to manually open a folder of about one hundred pictures, manually zoom in to get the inverter model number and locate the correct array for each model number.” According to Sutton, reports that summarized on an average of 6 sites typically took upwards of a week to complete, with smaller reports taking several hours to finish.
Lack of On-Site Procedures Causing Rework
A major challenge for field technicians was the lack of structured step-by-step procedures when visiting a site. “Unless you were extremely good at keeping track of all the action items that are needed to be done at each site, it would be difficult to gather all the right information for a complete report,” said Ric Solario, Lead PV Field Engineer. The lack of a streamlined procedure occasionally meant having a lot missing information, which greatly increased the number repeat site visits—disrupting daily schedules and wasting money on jobs which should have been done right the first time. On average, repeat site visits cost Ric and his team between $300-500 per trip, and according to Aboueljoud, occurred 70% of the time.
Gaps in Asset Management
The lack of an asset management system impacted both field and office crews. For Aboueljoud’s crew, organizing site assets and data—whether images, documents, or comments—was imperative for clear communication between field and office teams. Using traditional texts and email messaging for communication meant it was easy for information to fall through the cracks, especially when communicating with multiple team members simultaneously. Missing information meant an increase in repeat site visits, which further led to wasted time and resources.