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Mobile Data Collection Tool For Facility Assessments

February 19, 2021

Last year we discussed how two unrelated issues could be solved with a new application of technology. One issue is customers being hesitant to allow contractors or inspectors into their homes and businesses. The other is how program implementers can document and verify items such as model/serial numbers from appliances and HVAC systems. Program implementers were faced with remote data collection from project sites and the need to reduce data entry errors. Understandably, there could be a hesitancy to move to a new data collection system. However, since the beginning of the pandemic, utilities and others have been recognizing a positive business benefit by embracing remote work solutions. Using digital image recognition has become commonplace, like how we use deposit a check into our bank. The same technology can be applied to data collection in the field. Sometimes major events allow businesses to adapt work processes in a manner that they may not have typically considered. The challenge is that we do not revert to the old work processes in a rush to return to a normal status. Remote data collection systems are a cost-effective solution that addresses many needs.

As Ben Franklin is reported to have said," An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Heading off data entry errors is worth the time and capital spending. More recently, the "1-10-100 Rule" of quality management places a dollar amount on the cost of data errors. In 1992, George Labovitz and YuSang Chang developed the rule that states that it costs exponentially more money to identify and correct data entry errors the longer it takes to find them. For example, it may cost your company $1 in prevention to verify that the data is accurate.

However, it may cost $10 in correction expenses to find and correct errors. Finally, the business will incur $100 in failure costs if it does nothing and allows bad data to move between systems. In this example, $100 is not much money. However, a utility needs to document and support millions of dollars of program expenditures. A realization rate that has been negatively impacted by poor data quality could place program cost recovery and performance bonuses into question.

Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) has taken steps to implement such a system. They have removed paper and spreadsheets from their C&I field team's hands and given them a tablet-based tool that completely integrates with an electronic technical resource manual and their customer information system. They are experiencing increased accuracy, reduced labor costs, and improved customer engagement. I would encourage you to register for our upcoming webinar, "Case Study: Going Electronic with Facility Assessments" featuring ComEd managers who will discuss their philosophy and process.

Written by - Michael Stockard
Michael Stockard is an independent consultant at Stockard Energy Advising and is a member of the Advisory Panel at ANB Systems. Michael has over 39 years of experience in the design and implementation of demand-side management programs.

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