This is being written in the summer of 2021, a year-plus since the global pandemic that sent many of us home to work, and created an entire category of 2020 memories – “my/our COVID project” – ranging from sourdough bread to bathroom remodels to fitness journeys. If there was such a thing as an unofficial, job-related COVID project, automation would assuredly qualify! From plant maintenance to residential product support, circumstances arose over the past year that catalyzed us to align processes and achieve automation.
Maybe this feels familiar to you: Volumes upon volumes of tickets. Late night/early morning pages and dispatches. On-call team member burnout. All are symptoms of large, complex systems, built and patched and rebuilt over decades, and probably showing multiple signs of wear. You, of course, “just” want to ensure you know what is going on, where, and when.
But how do you sort what is truly an impacting event that requires immediate attention, from the what can be a daunting level of “informational noise”? How do you get the right eyes on the right problem at the right time? The answer that worked for us was a duet of process alignment and automation. In this paper, we will review some of the automation opportunities we identified, how we identified them, and the impact they had on our teams and business operations functions. We will review two different approaches to address these opportunities – informational noise reduction, and optimization by correlation -- in two quite different areas of our operation: first, by our field plant maintenance technicians, supported by our XOCs (eXcellence in Operation Centers), and second, in our national Residential Product Support team.