Mobile phones and portable devices have had a strong impact on almost every industry imaginable. The energy industry is no different. There have been major changes in the approach to energy management, energy efficiency, and even the consumption of energy due to mobility in the workplace.
Because of the dispersed nature of the energy supply industry, scattered across continents and with centers in most towns, intercommunication of information is important. Green energy and being energy efficient is a major concern, and mobile or IoT (Internet of Things) devices are playing an important role in this transition. There is also a need for mobile-focused marketing, to catch the attention of the increasingly mobile population.
Within the energy industry, security is a top priority. There have previously been cases where hackers have caused issues in power stations, or malware was discovered before damage could be caused.
Fortunately, there are highly secure approaches and true mobile management success stories such as with Lightstone Generation. This case study shows how remote management is possible to set up in a highly secured way, improving operations significantly.
So, let’s take a look at some of the ways mobile devices are influencing change in the Energy Industry.
This section is split into two. While the public may be aware of the convenience of energy apps, there is also a lot happening behind the scenes in energy companies. Mobile device adoption and customization is resulting in benefits for both the customers, employees, and energy companies.
Company Energy Apps
These are apps that are either custom designed, or adapted to improve company operations. They may even be created in order to assist a single role within the organization. Mostly these are for mobile phone or tablet style devices.
They assist in a number of ways, but primarily the effect of mobile adoption within the energy industry is increased efficiency and accuracy. These apps allow companies to remotely manage hardware, collect and distribute information, or increase collaboration between employees.
Benefits of Internal Mobile Apps in the Energy Industry
Here are some of the ways internal energy apps can help improve the energy industry
- Remote control of hardware,including complicated startup or shutdown procedures.
- Automation and regulation of business processes.
- System flows that are easy to follow and recorded.
- Educational resources available anytime and anywhere.
- Integration of departments and processes, regardless of location.
- Increased access to real-time information.
- Easy access to reports, where the data is collected and formatted automatically by the apps.
- Better productivity and efficiency, created by the above points.
Customer Focused Energy Apps
Although it almost sounds counter-productive, helping customers become more energy-efficient when you sell energy, it actually helps to increase customer retention and create happier customers. Alternate revenues are also created via the selling and installation of energy efficient equipment and products.
Through the use of mobile apps and IoT devices, energy companies are able to make energy efficiency more manageable for their customer base. While not all customers will take full advantage of this, having smart homes and energy systems can greatly reduce energy consumption and therefore the monthly bills.
The public is able to not only accurately track their usage and estimated costs throughout the month via smart meters and connected apps, but also remotely manage devices. Remote control allows devices and features that were accidentally left on, to be turned off from outside of the property, or to be setup on a schedule that turns them on or off at predetermined times.
Simply knowing how much is being spent on energy can help reduce bills, as cuts can be made or usage monitored to avoid unexpectedly high energy bills. Companies can also advertise promotional rates and useful information directly to their customer base via these apps.
Customer Demands – Instant Connectivity
As the apps provided give customers access to live data and costings, as well as remote control options, they also provide connectivity and increased contact between the customer and the energy provider. This has placed new demands on energy providers as far as customer service is concerned.
However, the apps have also introduced a new level of client data access and reporting. They also often allow for two way communication. This means that although the customers can raise support requests, energy companies can also inform their client base easily and effectively. In some situations, such as public safety issues or power outages, being able to communicate quickly and answer questions can lead to reduced negative impacts.
In the case of emergencies, this form of communication can be vital. Quickly alerting to potentially hazardous situations, such as a nearby gas leak, spillage or other. By keeping customers safe and informed, a company can protect their brand and their profitline.
Staff using remote devices have been shown to be more efficient. If these devices are also monitored, then performance increases even further. Mobile devices allow for better collaboration, task setting, monitoring, and sharing of data.
This is not all, as IoT and mobile devices can work securely hand in hand to provide much higher level functions. Live data from power plants, or even startups/shutdown processes or tuning of machinery can be performed via an integrated cloud system and mobile devices.
This allows staff more freedom and the possibility of remotely managing systems and situations. In the field, processes are combined with live data and communication, to allow teams from anywhere in the world to collaborate with someone on site.
Demands for Green Energy and Increased Energy Efficiency
Although we already touched on energy efficiency for customers in their homes, mobile devices and their required networks are having a ‘twisted’ impact on the energy industry. A mobile phone itself might not use a lot of energy, but the data centers, cell towers, and interlinked systems do.
These all use a significant amount of energy. Procedures and technology will have to meet some of these demands, but the energy companies may also be partners in creating new energy efficient systems for supporting the infrastructure of mobile networks.
The Need for Security
The energy industry is managing a potentially explosive situation. This is in the literal sense, should a hacker gain control over gas networks and power systems.
Fortunately, MDM (Mobile Device Management) can be combined with other enterprise mobility systems to make it highly unlikely, if not almost impossible, for someone to gain access. Setting up aspects such as security systems, failover internet for always online setups, and restricted access can all help increase security.
MDM can make sure that devices are only used for what they should be, and protected against outside threats. Updates, device setup, monitoring and tweaks can all be provided remotely. Should a secured device be lost or stolen, it can also be remotely erased or ‘bricked’ to prevent any potential data leaks.
All in all, adoption of mobile devices is changing the way the energy industry works by increasing efficiency, accuracy, and safety. However, the use of mobile devices by the public is also creating an energy market and alternative revenues through energy efficiency setups, as well as increasing pressures for energy to be produced as cleanly as possible.