Northumbrian Water has improved the speed with which it responds to customers’ call-outs relating to meters, following a pilot for a new automated system of planning jobs.

The trial saw an average 30% increase in the number of jobs the team could complete each day, meaning customers’ queries were resolved more quickly. From an average of nine jobs per day, per person, the team is now achieving 13, with one month seeing that daily figure reach 19.


It also had the added benefit of reducing journey times between jobs, through smarter automated planning. Additionally, the per-trip travel time has dropped from a 16 minute average to 13 minutes, while journeys of more than 30 minutes have been reduced by 15%.


The company’s 11 North East-based meter technicians, who investigate customer billing enquiries, and carry out a range of other jobs in the field, carry out between 1,800 and 2,000 jobs per month. After the company trialled the new system within its Meter Field Services team, the potential to expand to other parts of the business is now being investigated.


The trial also saw the average number of jobs waiting to be completed reduced from between 1,000 and 1,500 to just 60.


Metering Manager Andrew Ledger said: “The pilot we conducted in the second half of 2017 means customers with meters can have their queries resolved far more quickly. More queries are being dealt with every day and a backlog that had built up has been all-but eradicated.


“Changes that have come from the automated planning include greater flexibility and a drip-feeding of individual jobs instead of delivering a list of the whole day’s work at the start of each shift.


“This takes the pressure off the team members in terms of planning the work, making it easier for them to deliver unrivalled service to each customer.


“Our average for the number of jobs we have outstanding has dropped massively, which means we are getting to more customers, more quickly, and we are building resilience through greater flexible working.”