Back in the forgotten era of 2015 when the arctic ice caps were somewhat still intact and a pandemic hadn't yet ravaged the world, a small firm popped into existence in Muscat, the capital city of Oman. This was a contracting firm, and one of the first projects this firm landed happened to be "Revenue Assurance" for a major electricity distribution company in the country.
Put in simple words, they had to disconnect the power supply of folks who hadn't paid their bills and then restore the power once they paid them. Because there's nothing like the prospect of being indoors in the unmitigated heat of a desert country to make one rethink his priorities.
The Technological Challenge
The client expected five to ten thousand disconnections to be done every month, and an almost equal number of reconnections. The reconnections had to be done within 3 hours of the customer making a payment. With touch points spread out over an entire city, a limited time frame to do the tasks and limited resources, you can imagine that this job involves not a few technological challenges:
- Thousands of service touchpoints needed to be geographically mapped and distributed between available staff and working days.
- There must be systems in place to communicate the receipt of payments and subsequent reconnection orders to staff.
- The work being carried out must be recorded, reported, and invoiced accurately and sufficient proof must be maintained.
- Staff must be compelled to carry out the technical work in a safe and HSE compliant manner
- At the same time, productivity had to be maximized.
- Travel distances and fuel consumption of vehicles had to be tracked.
- Staff must be kept motivated.
Doing these manually using traditional methods was out of the question. In addition to spending money unnecessarily on backend activities, there wouldn't be any guarantee that the work done was up to standards in the absence of any tracking and measurement systems.
There was also no single tool available in the market to get this job done efficiently. Rather than look for multiple disjoint tools to solve the above requirements individually, the company (which was named Keystone Services LLC) took a decision to start building the technology themselves.
What was clearly a necessity soon became passion, and a mission statement was drawn up to create truly world-class solutions for the field operation challenges faced by Keystone. And this sowed the seeds for the birth, a few years down the line, of what you now know and love as Fieldmaster.
While the ice caps were melting over the past five years we at Fieldmaster figured out, among other things, how to do more with less. Like executing a two year long nationwide smart metering project with exactly zero backend staff. Like automating everything from daily work routines to staff incentive leaderboards to client reporting and invoicing. Like using 3 vehicles to service 3000 touchpoints a month.
- By things like creating Fieldmaster's own
Route Optimization Algorithmsbuilding on TSP with our specific requirements (there's going to be an article soon on why traditional routing algorithms don't help with highly clustered markers).
- By creating a custom ETL pipeline to help update each field staff's mobile application against the tasks carried out by him and everyone else, in real time.
- By incorporating highly customizable
Workflow Modulesto ensure that every single task conforms to specifications.
- And not to mention, by building validation systems to ensure
100% Accuracy of Dataeven with hundreds of thousands of service touchpoints. Because let's face it, an AMI project cannot be said to be a success if you get your neighbor's water bill instead of your own (he takes really long showers).
Well, that's the long and short of it. If anything, our passion for solving operational challenges has only grown stronger over time. Ever since we decided to stop keeping Fieldmaster selfishly to ourselves and to market it as a global SaaS product, we have been combing through it with an even more critical eye.
Rest assured, we've done our best to get you the kind of operational value addition that you won't find elsewhere.