MaxSolar, based in New Jersey, is an industry-leading provider of operations & maintenance (O&M), asset management, and technical services for commercial solar PV systems.
Since 2015, business has been growing steadily for MaxSolar, and with demand for solar O&M services in the US growing, MaxSolar knew it was time to evaluate the systems enabling their day-to-day operations.
Seeking a solar project management platform to scale their operations, MaxSolar selected the Scoop Solar platform as the core mobile component of their solar field operations and reporting capabilities.
“Scoop has been a great partner and the platform is a tremendous asset during a time of rapid growth for MaxSolar. It streamlined our field operations & reporting capabilities considerably, which has allowed us to focus on other high priority items as we continue to scale our business.”
Jason Case, VP Operations
- $460,000 in annualized operations savings
- $38,000 in annualized savings per employee
- 88% reduction in effort associated with completing & submitting forms
Business is booming at MaxSolar, and it’s the good kind of busy at the local New Jersey-based Solar Operations & Maintenance company. As demand for their services grew, the team at MaxSolar knew that it was time to look into a technological solution that would enable them to manage the steadily increasing number of field activities and reports. The company decided it was time to incorporate a mobile platform into their solar operations in order to increase the efficiency of communication within and between teams.
After completing their operational analysis, MaxSolar determined they would need to find a solution capable of addressing 3 key challenges:
1. Generating Reports Efficiently
Reports for tasks such as quality assurance and inspection are completed after every site visit. As the company’s portfolio grows, efficiency may slow as employees need to spend more hours resizing images and formatting reports in office word processing software. Thus, the solution had to have a strong reporting function that significantly reduced the manual labor that went into report generation.
2. Making Data Accessible in the Field
When field technicians were dispatched to a site, there was no way for them to retrieve pictures and videos captured from another crew member’s previous site visit while in the field. Without a mobile component in their toolbox, field technicians were unable to access and download data off the server and had to either rely on memory or on pre-recorded notes that may be outdated. Thus, the solution had to be field-friendly and allow data to be accessible off-site and offline.
3. Simplifying Communications Between Office and Field
When a field technician stumbles across an issue in the field, sharing the problem clearly was a huge challenge. Replicating details from the on-site form into an email for support was redundant, time-consuming and sometimes difficult to communicate. Additionally, managers were not able to see timely project status updates in one place. Thus, the solution had to allow for direct office-to-field communications and have dashboards that track status updates.
The Search for a Solution
MaxSolar’s original plan was to find an asset management platform that had strong field operations management features embedded. They found a generic asset management system with mobile capabilities and began a massive customization plan in order to adapt it to solar operations. This would prove to be a massive challenge, given that they did not have an in-house IT or development team to make frequent alterations to the platform and the program itself would require ongoing maintenance.
They quickly realized that while Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), Construction Project Management (CPM) and Customer Relations Management (CRM) software were excellent at their respective functions as so-called “Systems of Record”, they were not built primarily for field operations management and not optimized for mobile worker user experience. A truly mobile extension was needed to bring the power of these tools to the folks in the field
“Over the past 4-5 months, our operational volume has increased by almost 200%. If we did not have Scoop, we would not have been able to achieve this level of scalability.”
Yash Shah, Senior Energy Engineer
Scoop Solar Platform Features
After a promising discovery call and demo, the MaxSolar team found that Scoop Solar was able to address their top challenges and more.
Generating Reports Efficiently
Scoop automates the report generation process so that all the relevant content required in the report, as well as the formatting, is pulled together in custom templates and has 1-click reporting features.
Making Data Accessible in the Field
The Scoop Solar mobile app empowers technicians and others in the field. Data on the Scoop app can be made available offline so that field crews can still review pictures and data from previous visits to that particular site while out of the office. They can download and upload data to the platform with automatic sync.
Simplifying Communications Between Office and Field Teams
On-screen picture markup and multimedia capabilities (including video and audio) enable crews to easily point out hazards or issues. Coupled with real-time sync as long as the field rep has a mobile connection, field problems can be instantly accessed by engineers in the office and the solution sent back out to the field reps quickly before techs have to leave the site. Scoop also provides visual analytics through dashboard and filter views. This enables managers to easily see status updates and trends, and to oversee the project progress of each site.
With confidence that this platform had the right features to explore, the team moved ahead into a free supported trial. Once they had submitted a sample form, the Scoop Solutions team created a trial account for them. With easy access to a dedicated account manager that was there every step of the way and consistent positive feedback from field operations personnel, the decision was clear to move forward and MaxSolar signed the contract in a month.
Getting Started with Scoop Solar
MaxSolar had access to a dedicated account success manager, with whom they planned weekly calls. However, they found that everyone became acquainted with the platform very quickly due to how intuitive it was, and the team did not require much additional training.
In no time, their field technicians were on board and pleased with how helpful it was to have a streamlined set of instructions to follow on site, especially for inspections. Additionally, the multimedia capabilities of Scoop have proved to be helpful in numerous instances:
“A picture’s great, but a video is huge. For example, if there’s a loose conduit, you can film a video to point out the issue and show the customer how loose it is. Especially in complex situations, videos speak volumes more than a simple photo or text description ever could,” shared Steve Lavin, Senior Technician. Furthermore, this video can then be attached to the correct mobile form submission and later accessed by anyone with the permissions to view.”
“A picture’s great, but a video is huge. For example, if there’s a loose conduit, you can film a video to point out the issue and show the customer how loose it is. Especially in complex situations, videos speak volumes more than a simple photo or text description ever could.”
Steve Lavin, Senior Technician
The Impact of MaxSolar + Scoop Solar
After a year of using Scoop, MaxSolar has realized a number of quantitative and qualitative results that demonstrate the platform’s substantial impact. By significantly reducing the effort needed for reporting and empowering the field teams with a mobile project and communications tool, MaxSolar has begun realizing significant annualized operational savings while at the same time scaling up their operations.
“Over the past 4-5 months, our operational volume has increased by almost 200%. If we did not have Scoop, we would not have been able to achieve this level of scalability,” said Shah.
Steve agrees with the impact: “It’s great; it’s solved a working issue. It’s huge if I’m going to a site that I haven’t been to and someone else has; now I can look at the previous scoop and see what the previous tech identified. I know what to look for and I can confirm I see the same problem.”
Since implementing Scoop, MaxSolar has realized the operational efficiency gains it was looking for, and captured over $460,000 of annualized cost savings.
Specific savings have come from
- $241,500 saved by reducing the effort associated with completing and submitting forms
- $172,500 saved through more efficient field issue reporting and sharing
- $46,000 saved by eliminating the need for manual data entry from paper forms
As the MaxSolar team continues to scale their operations and attract customers, they can rest assured that their new field operations management solution will keep overhead low and communication speed and accuracy at an all-time high. As Scoop fills a unique yet vital niche in the solar software landscape, MaxSolar can confidently deliver on their increasing volume of activity with this flexible tool that they have added to their stack.
“Scoop has been a great partner and the platform is a tremendous asset during a time of rapid growth for MaxSolar,” says VP of Operations Jason Case.” It streamlined our field operations & reporting capabilities considerably, which has allowed us to focus on other high priority items as we continue to scale our business.”