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Rise of the smart, real-time solar operations centre

by James Clements
posted on Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

Deliver proactive solar services at scale using a unified solar operations centre that’s matched to the way you manage your operations, and has the flexibility to adapt to changes in your business and your marketplace.

PRODUCT ANNOUNCEMENT – SOLAR OPERATIONS CENTRES (SOCS) – POWERED BY OUR ADEPT TECHNOLOGY

 

Is this your solar services business?

You’re managing a significant installed base of solar installations across multiple monitoring platforms, and filling the gaps with manual people processes. It’s all a bit clunky, right?

You operate in a competitive industry, and cost management is key. Yet, at the same time, you need to differentiate your services. As you continue to scale, the manual processes create inconsistencies in your service delivery. You start to notice you’re missing opportunities in your installed base to grow the business, right at the time you want to become more proactive with customers and deliver greater quality. You can do better, right?

You are increasingly aware that today’s customers demand a high quality user experience in every significant purchase they make. If it was ever considered acceptable business practice for solar companies to install panels on the roof, then walk away hoping never to get a warranty claim, then those days are gone. You need new and better tools, right?

If any of this resonates with your current business experience, then the good news is that technology is here to help you. But, while offering solutions, technology brings new challenges too.

Software, and the latest technology trends like the Internet of Things (IoT), keep changing quickly. You need a way to future proof your business investments now, while taking advantage of the latest technologies, and often you’ll need help to kickstart your technology transition. 

Off-the-shelf products are never quite optimised for your business, and you are probably thinking about using your own custom application. 

At Wattwatchers, we’ve been seeing these challenges becoming more and more acute for solar businesses. About a year ago we began to frame a major response, in the form of a new business service, to provide a technologically-agile platform for managing distributed energy in real-time.

That’s led to Wattwatchers ADEPT, which is a low-code way to create fleet and customer applications for Energy IoT and Industry 4.0 use cases.

A core focus is enabling a Solar Operations Centre (SOCs) model that gives you the flexibility to select from multiple end-user application options (i.e. apps, dashboards and portals), or to use your own to differentiate your customer experience.

A Wattwatchers ADEPT Solar Operations Centre consolidates your real-time monitoring data from inverter APIs, Wattwatchers devices and other sources, and connects to your business systems like CRMs and Work Order Management systems to help deliver a consistent and proactive service that scales cost-effectively. 

If you don’t have a system for managing issue resolution, this also can be performed within the SOC.

                 Wattwatchers Auditor 6M

If your installed-base lacks monitoring, Wattwatchers Auditors can be cost-effectively retrofitted to any solar system independent of inverter type. enabling you to deliver services while providing an energy management tool.

This will help you to improve your business now, and future proof it as well. 

 

  • You can boost operational productivity using software to automatically detect faults, and determine if systems are performing. 

  • Take a GPS location feed from your operations vehicles, and match your engineers to the closest fault to improve your service responsiveness. 

  • Use Wattwatchers’ granular real-time monitoring data to remotely access inverters to reduce truck-rolls and arrive at sites prepared for the work you need to do.

  • Get the data and customer insights and consumer connectivity you’ll need to up-sell additional services beyond the first solar installation, including more solar panels. battery storage, load control for demand response, and electric vehicle charging.

 

SNAPSHOT: Challenges and industry trends that have helped to shape Wattwatchers ADEPT

  • Solar continues to be rolled out at a high rate. Leading players want to compete on more than just price and aim to differentiate their services. Being more proactive (and less reactive) with customers is a trend.
  • Working across multiple platforms to deliver services due to an inconsistent approach to monitoring where manual people processes fill the gaps – not scalable cost-effectively and service is inconsistent. Companies increasingly feel that they are not realising  the full value on offer.
  • There’s a vulnerability with ‘lock-in’ to any single application, and often it’s not easy to get data into other platforms. This is a risk because the relentless evolution of software applications is moving so fast. 
  • Leading companies are working to improve service levels to differentiate their offerings in a competitive market and make services more proactive. But they often lack the systems to deliver this at scale.
  • Current systems are inflexible and are not designed to easily share data with other platforms.
  • Hardware solutions are high-cost and don’t scale down to smaller systems particularly well. In solar PPA systems, there can be duplicated hardware – one system for monitoring – the other for billing.
  • The end-user customer expects a digital experience
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