When most people think about public utilities, they only concentrate on the service provided in the way of electricity, natural gas or water. However, there are a number of processes involved in the public utility supply chain that require data-intensive measurement and analytics tools capable of providing companies with clarity into their inventory levels. This is especially important for public utilities as the winter approaches and consumer demands shift according to the weather and varying levels of water usage.
Energy and Utility Companies Stocks Trade High
While the stock market is always prone to some type of volatility, it also gives business owners and stakeholders a fairly accurate reading of how well a business is performing. For instance, Forbes reported a number of energy enterprises are doing better than most other sectors. Stocks were trading 0.5 percent higher than all other markets, including materials, consumer products, industrial and healthcare. The two companies leading the way were Chevron and QEP Resources.
Meanwhile, utilities performed at a close second to energy firms, demonstrating a 0.3 percent upward trend. American firms, such as Exelon and Integrys Energy Group, each gained 1 percent. Although stocks tend to fluctuate throughout the weeks, it's important for utility operators to assess their current situation and actively plan for a more efficient future.
PowerStream Transforms Operations with Mobile Data Collection
As one of the largest municipally-owned electricity distribution enterprises in Ontario, Canada, PowerStream is responsible for delivering power to several hundreds of thousands of consumers in both residential and commercial contexts. The public utility is an award-winning firm that had run into a wall in trying to extract as much functionality out of its JD Edwards EnterpriseOne system. PowerStream used this software to manage warehouse and inventory processes.
Because of its broad reach, the utility company has a sizable and extensive warehouse and exterior yard. Inventory includes small components, such as nuts and bolts used to connect power to customers' buildings, and much larger equipment needed to sustain the electrical grid overall. PowerStream helps to maintain electrical poles and power lines that are the foundation of a reliable infrastructure. Accordingly, it's easy to see why a robust data collection solution was necessary not only to ensure the utility performs at its highest capacity, but also to make certain there aren't any service disruptions.
As a utility provider, PowerStream constantly moves inventory from one location to another, which requires careful and constant record keeping. However, the company was using a paper-based manual to keep track of inventory in the warehouse. Initially, workers had to write down information on a pick list and later transfer that information into a computer system. These processes open the door for significant errors that can alter the integrity of inventory.
Consequently, PowerStream teamed up with RFgen to integrate a mobile data collection solution. The utility was able to customize it into four distinct categories, including inventory management, purchase order processing, license plate and warehouse management.
The Strengths of Mobile Data Collection
After a testing period, PowerStream was able to eliminate paper-based inventory management altogether. As a result, the company can locate items much more rapidly and maintain an accurate inventory count based on real-time data. That means new items coming into a warehouse and those heading out to on-site locations are properly tracked. Purchase order receipts and inquiries are handled with ease, and there's increased visibility into warehouse and exterior yard stock levels.
Mobile data collection allows organizations of all kinds to effectively manage inventory, which is critical for maintaining cost-effective operations.