OVO Field Force - Driving the future

  • 4 June 2018
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In the spirit of sharing a day in the life of driving an EV, last week I was lucky enough to go out on the road with one of our OVO Field Force engineers.

I was particularly excited to get to go in one of our awesome EV vans as I wanted to learn direct from the engineer what it was like to drive one and what factors they need to consider on a daily basis in regards to making the most of the EV.

I was paired up with Zsolt (see photo above!), and I have to say he was brilliant, a real advocate for the EV vans and with a load of knowledge and experience of the energy industry. With a range of about 80 miles on a full charge from his Nissan ENV200, his route mainly around central Bristol means that a single charge often lasts a couple of days. We spoke a lot about the changes in behaviour he’s had to make adjustments for as he’s learnt to get the most from the van to enable him to reach customers to complete smart meter installs.

So what did I learn?
There’s a few changes needed in driving behaviours, things like on longer journeys, avoiding motorways, as going over 50mph can mean additional stops to charge. That could have a knock on effect of reaching a customer on time, or not even being able to make a job at all, so the engineer manages this by taking more scenic routes to reach our customers, and while this might mean journeys take a bit longer, they save a lot of battery life and means less time spent charging the van along the way.

Another thing that had never occured to me was that the battery is not just propelling the van forward and backwards, but its used to support all the functions on the van, like lights, wipers, even the heating and air con so the weather can have an impact on the engineers route that day to ensure he still make it to his customers homes on time.

We also spent some time chatting through charging stations, and how easy or difficult they are to find. The engineer I was with uses an app to locate them, although he did mention finding rapid chargers was more tricky but if you find one they do save a lot of time. The infrastructure is improving all the time, so he was hopeful that in the future, these would be more readily available as the standard chargers can take some time to charge. They provide enough for the engineer to finish his work for the day and still have enough battery left to get home so it’s not all bad!

Another factor where the EV can sometimes make the engineer think differently is having to plan his jobs around charging points. So on days where he needs to go further afield, often means phone calls to customers to move jobs around to ensure he is able to get to everyone, at the same time as being able to reach a charging station without having to go too far out of his way. The bonus here though, is that bit of extra work for the engineer, allows him to benefit from driving one of our EV vans and it means less customer jobs get cancelled resulting in more happy customers.

A great quote from the engineer on the day that stuck with me, was his desire to adopt an EV and having had his EV van for almost a year now, it’s clear to see he really has taken on the challenge and is making it work. He said, currently he’s not in a position to own his own EV, so by taking on one at work, means he’s doing his bit for his carbon footprint. How cool is that!

I know we have big plans to increase the number of engineers driving EV’s to support our values and business goals, so with newer vans coming in the next few months with a longer range, we hope to see more engineers adopting these and increasing the carbon footprint savings we are making across the board! I know for a fact, the engineer I was with cannot wait!

Overall a brilliant day, the Smart Meter install the engineer completed went without a hitch and we left behind one very happy customer and plenty of charge left in the van ready to head to the next job 🙂 .

If you have an EV, we'd love you to create your own new topic in this area and tell us about it.:D

Darran

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This week I was lucky enough to be able to join our Field Force engineer Rhys, as he fitted smart meters for OVO customers in and around Bristol. I was with him for most of his action packed day, so I thought it would be interesting to share with you my smart meter fitting experience from the point of view of the engineer:

He picked me up in his newish OVO branded van outside of our main Bristol office, and we went straight to the next job on his list. On the way, Rhys called the customer (hands free of course), to let her know when she could expect us to arrive. It was an electricity only smart meter fitting, on the top floor of a block of flats. Straight away we had difficulty parking nearby (permit holders only) but managed to find a spot eventually. Just in time, we got to the customer’s top floor flat, and went about finding the meter and replacing it. There were a few complications and it was pretty hot up there, but Rhys got it done quickly. All the more impressive considering the many different gadgets and tools involved in safely dealing with large voltage electricity infrastructure - I took a step backwards just in case!

After finishing the job, Rhys reconnected the power and talked through the In Home Display (IHD) to the customer. He explained what would happen next, connected the meter to OVO’s network and connected the IHD to the meter’s network. Job done!

After a quick tidy up, we were off to the next job! This was in the BS6 area of Bristol. Its back streets are not the easiest to navigate. After a rather hairy dead end 3 point turn around (a tad stressful when your driving is remotely monitored by your manager via GPS), we found the address and got to work again - this time on an external wall mounted electricity meter. The customer had a dog, the furry fella was friendly and the sun was out this time round, but something told me things weren’t always like that.

As the day went on, I began to appreciate this can be a tough job at times. There’s lots of spinning plates to manage, lots of things to be careful about, not to mention the potentially dire consequences if things go wrong. I developed a newfound respect for Rhys, and all of our engineers, who meet this challenge head on everyday. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Rhys and the Field Force team for all of their hard work. It really was an eye opening experience!

Next time you’re at home and waiting for that door bell to ring to announce your smart meter fitter has arrived, spare a thought for the hard work involved and put the kettle on (before they shut the power off)!

For more info on our smart meters, the gadgets supporting their function, and a link to our appointment booking platform, click here

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