Innovative robotics technology underway at Opus Energy, writes Jonathan Kini
17th January 2020
Robotics technology is transforming the operations here at Opus Energy, improving service and freeing up time for our teams to work on more interesting matters and do even more to help customers, writes Jonathan Kini, CEO of Drax Retail, which includes Opus Energy.
Meet Billie, Reggie and Scottie. No, they’re not a new boy band and they’re not a trio of terriers or any other pet for that matter. In fact, they’re the names that our team at Opus Energy have given to the latest innovation we have introduced into our business.
It’s called RPA, which stands for Robotic Automation Processing. And it’s now being used at our offices on a number of processes we use in our work as the UK’s biggest renewable electricity supplier to businesses, alongside our sister business Haven Power.
Why are we doing it?
The idea behind is that it reduces the amount of repetitive, mundane data entry, checking and basic admin tasks that our Opus Energy teams have to do, freeing their time up to do more interesting and engaging work.
We also believe it will improve our service to our customers and our billing, which is just as important.
I’ll give you an example. Over the Christmas period, our RPA systems could be deployed while everyone else, including you and me, were enjoying time with our family and friends.
And they were incredibly productive. In just a few days, one automation completed 20,000 tasks. That would have taken our teams much longer and would have been fairly basic data entry work.
That’s why our robotic recruits have been welcomed into our operation by everyone. So much so, they’ve even been given names.
So we now have ‘Billie’, who works with the Billing team. And ‘Reggie’ from Registrations. And top marks to the team who came up with ‘Scottie’. This automated addition works on Change of Tenancy matters. That’s known as COT in our business, hence Scottie.
Now, in truth, we actually have more than just three robotic applications in place. Six processes within our business have had automation introduced, for credit work, registrations, billing, metering and back office processes. As we continue to innovate, we’ll introduce more where we think it will add value.
New data and customer demand is driving innovation
Innovation matters. The energy sector is currently beginning what I genuinely think will be a revolution. More and more customers are having the latest generation of smart meters installed and that will produce more and more data, driving further change in the industry and changing the relationship suppliers have with their customers.
Managing that data quickly and effectively will be a team effort but more data could mean more admin work for our teams. RPA will help with that.
If the robotic side of the team can do more of the data inputting and management work, then our people will be able to focus on spending more time helping our customers understand how they can change the way they use their energy and improve the sustainability of their businesses. Building that kind of partnership with customers will be increasingly important as the new energy market emerges.
So it’s good for our people, good for our business and good for customers too.
Of course, this isn’t the only innovation we’ve introduced. We’re also trialling new battery storage technology with customers, including a farm business in Northamptonshire. If successful, this would enable customers to store the renewable energy they generate, for example from wind or solar power, and sell it back to the grid at peak times.
In other words, another potential source of revenue, powered by renewables, a rapidly-expanding source of energy for the UK as we strive to meet our climate change targets. And that’s just one of the ways that small businesses can use renewable energy to give them an advantage.
It’s not innovation for innovation’s sake. What we’re doing is looking at ways to improve the customer experience and meet the changing demands of the market. Billie, Reggie and Scottie, and any other automated systems we can introduce in the future, are very much part of that. Their work will be vital in improving our efficiency and, in turn, enabling our people to keep on improving our work with customers.
But this technological trio won’t be the last innovation we see in our business. The energy revolution will keep us all on our toes and drive even more new ideas. Watch this space.
Jonathan is the CEO of Drax Retail, which is part of the Drax Group and is the UK’s biggest renewable electricity supplier to businesses. It includes Opus Energy and also Haven Power. Jonathan is passionate about inspiring change and driving sustainability in small, medium and larger businesses, which he believes have a vital role to play in helping to enable a zero carbon, lower-cost energy future.