Saudi Arabia – Performance of metering and billing in the water sector

We are very pleased indeed to have been awarded a contract by the Electricity & Co-generation Regulatory Authority (ECRA) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to provide metering and billing consultancy services. Central to the assignment is an audit of water metering and billing systems in 10 cities, including Riyadh, Jeddah and Makkah. This is a strategically significant project for ECRA – and the future of the sector as a whole – that will see more experienced members of the team return to the Kingdom, while others will experience working in this unique environment for the first time.

Benchmarking

Quite frequently we support companies undertaking internal performance reviews, audits or restructuring and part of this can include introducing them to practice from elsewhere.

Benchmarking does have important limitations, as Robert Kaplan identified many years ago. Inappropriately applied, those being benchmarked can spend many hours justifying their cost base and processes when time could be better spent doing or improving day to day work that needs to be done. His view, and one shared by many, is that benchmarking can most usefully be applied to understanding and improving commoditised products and processes.

In our view however, a more informal approach can bring benefits by introducing businesses and their leaders to new possibilities. Less easy to quantify, the exposure to new ways of working, different contexts and technological possibilities and more general knowledge sharing does have value – especially perhaps for utilities, which are often location, region or nationally rooted.

The usefulness of this for organisations in Oman, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia can be illustrated. We would be happy to discuss this approach – contact us via info@energypeople.co.uk.

Robert S. Kaplan (2006) When Benchmarks Don’t Work HBR

UK Power Networks

UK Power Networks (UKPN) has awarded energypeople limited a four year framework type contract for the provision of electrical design services covering networks from 11kV up to and including 132kV. We have supported UKPN on electrical design, connections design, power system studies and related work over many years and are delighted to have been appointed as a Framework Provider of the required services. Although a new contract it provides the prospect of valued continuity for us as one of UKPN’s design partners.

Environmental Audit

We are delighted to have been awarded a contract by AER, the regulatory authority for electricity in Oman, to undertake an environmental compliance audit of the work of the electricity transmission and distribution companies (OETC, MEDC, MZEC, MJEC and DPC). This will be led by Robert Kemp and we will be supported by two independent advisors, Marek Bidwell and Jason McGray. We look forward to working with Mark and Jason.

ISO 9001:2015

ISO 9001 is the international standard that sets out the requirements for a quality management system (QMS). Organisations use the standard to show that they can deliver products and services that meet customer, regulatory and statutory requirements.

Since our creation, we have implemented our own QMS – indeed one of our senior team is a qualified quality assessor from a previous role – but have been reluctant to commit the time and money to adopt the ISO system when our immediate focus has been on ensuring technical excellence (evidenced by our commitment to CPD and the adoption of the latest techniques) and being responsive to customer needs. As we have grown, so the case for adopting a formal, externally audited QMS has grown and from May 2019 we have been certified to 9001:2015.

Many people have played a part in achieving this but special thanks go to the quality team – Geoff, Sarah and Josh.

Oman

We have a long term and mutually beneficial relationship with organisations in the Oman power sector and have been working there in some capacity each year since we came together to form energypeople.

The sector is coping with many issues common to those in economies where demand is growing – managing with the need to expand the infrastructure for generating, transmitting and distributing electricity; meeting increasing customer expectations in terms of supply reliability, access through new connections, and standards of customer service; and involving private investors in funding expansion. And this at a time when the market for electricity continues to develop. When the companies achieve success, it is hard earned.

We have supported several of the companies, and the regulatory authority, and hope to continue to do so. Currently we are working with Tanweer (RAECO) supporting their price control submission, and MEDC in developing their management information.

BIM

Led by Pedro, energypeople has been re-certified as supplying design and management consultancy services to BIM Level 2 (in accordance with PAS 1192-2:2013, BS 1192:2007 and BS 1192-4:2014).

BIM, or Building Information Modelling, brings together all of the information about every component of a building, in one place. It provides a model for managing a project across the whole project life cycle and a framework for collaborative working and common standards for information. Customers are increasing expecting service providers to adopt this standard through their infrastructure design, build and management. We are pleased to offer customers the assurance that our approach complies to the Standard.

Work experience and why it matters

Always enthusiastic about encouraging professional and personal development among our people, 2019 has been the first year that we have engaged with work experience for those at school – and the experience has been positive.

We were joined by a year 10 student from the Gilberd school who was able to experience a taste of CAD, using an accounting package (as used by most SMEs), conducting research for one of our current projects. Following a varied programme of activities, he rated the experience as very positive in terms of learning and enjoyment, as did his parents.

During the process of planning for the arrival of our student, we were disappointed to learn that fewer local schools appear to be engaging with this. It is of course more work for the hosting company – at a time when many are enduring tough trading conditions – but our experience confirms that it is valuable in preparing students for the world of work.

New Owners?

energypeople is now employee owned. A long standing ambition of the founding partners was achieved in October 2018 when a restructuring enabled employees to become shareholders in the company. Employee ownership has long been associated with improved company performance and increasing staff commitment, and both the main political parties are enthusiastic even though they offer little practical support. We firmly believe that this set up provides the right foundation for our future.

Our first general meeting of shareholders will be held in December 2018.

Continuous Professional Development during April

As part of our commitment to continuous professional development (CPD) and building the knowledge and expertise of our design team, we arranged a workshop which focussed in depth on power system and electromagnetic transient stability – causes of instability, impact, risk and mitigation. The potential of PSCAD software was also explored during the three day workshop. We were supported by Suman Karki and are grateful for his contribution.