Re-flow – Energising Utilities: Cutting-Edge Solutions and Key Takeaways from InstallerSHOW

Late June saw Re-flow visit the InstallerSHOW in the Birmingham NEC. Trade shows are an important part of our broader mission of keeping up to date with the issues of the industries we serve. Keeping our fingers on the industry pulse is essential. We love meeting managers face to face, discussing ideas, and taking the opportunity to show off the many benefits of our powerful field management software.

InstallerSHOW – celebrities and industry themes

Team members navigated the festival-like atmosphere and attended talks from industry leaders and a few celebrity guests, including Phillipa Forrester (Tomorrow’s World), Deborah Meaden (Dragons Den), and Kevin McCloud (Grand Designs).

Themes included:

  • Future Homes Standards – making our homes zero carbon
  • Delivering Net Zero
  • Industry Desires from a New Government
  • Training and Apprenticeships
  • Zero-Carbon Councils
  • The Building Safety Act
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • The Changing Skills Landscape

Here are some of our highlights.

Delivering Net Zero

Chris Skidmore, former Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, is the man behind the UK Government’s ‘Mission Zero’ plan.

‘Building is the second biggest producer of carbon,’ he said, stressing how important it was to take this situation seriously, if only for the opportunities on offer. ‘Markets are moving in one direction, and Net Zero is an economic opportunity. It’s time for us to ride the wave. Investment is out there,’ he said.

But he lamented how The Conservative government, which he quit in protest at the granting of multiple new Oil and Gas Contracts, has shown weak leadership. In fact, he said they had prevaricated, watered down targets, and started a lamentable culture war over green issues. ‘Their approach has been hugely damaging,’ he said. ‘If we let the targets slip it will cost more money in the long run. Sunak is lying by saying he can create a cheaper Net Zero later.’

A common thread throughout the shows we visit is that momentum can often start with national government, but that the real driving force for change needs to happen on a local level. ‘We need devolved Net Zero policies,’ he said.

Delivering any kind of boost to Net Zero – or maintaining the health of the industry in general – requires addressing recruitment and retention issues. Ian Rippin said, ‘We need to fall in love again with apprenticeships. Gen Z don’t understand the opportunities that are out there for them in our industries. We need to be evangelical about what we have to offer.’

Training and Apprenticeships

InstallerSHOW featured an interesting discussion covering the issue from a small business perspective.

The consensus was a bigger need to spread the word about the industry in order to help the new generation see a future for themselves in utilities.

Damian Walters, CEO of BIKBBI, acknowledged that a lot of small business owners are reluctant to take on apprentices. There’s a perception that the process is either more trouble than it’s worth, or even counter-productive – the argument being that training an apprentice is in some ways equal to training a future rival.

Damian said, ‘We regularly talk to kids in schools. Hundreds and hundreds of kids are interested in what we have to say, but we struggle to get businesses engaged with the idea. Businesses need to drop archaic, negative ideas about apprentices. The future depends on getting the next generation interested in the industry.’

The panel stressed that when the workforce recruitment gap is drifting into the hundreds of thousands then small businesses have a huge responsibility in addressing the issue. ‘There’s a lot of nodding about being part of the solution,’ Damian Walters said. ‘But prices have gone up for customers because it’s a supply and demand market. We caused this by sending a lot of people back to Europe, and we can at least make a small positive difference. Forget this idea that you’re training rivals. You’re growing your business. Apprentices are an absolute no brainer because of the value they add.’

Re-flow’s Field Management Software

The InstallerSHOW gave us the opportunity to share how our software can benefit utilities companies through:

  • Real-time visibility of jobs, documents, and workflow operations. The ability for managers to see where their teams are, what the teams are working on, and what the teams have done.
  • Digital in-app forms for evidencing work and complying with health and safety. A frictionless solution that puts safety first, where the forms are so instinctive and easy to use that operatives feel more compliant and process driven.

And how Re-flow is:

  • a cloud-based piece of software that gives the highest level of visibility to your field operations, one that’s capable of flexible scheduling (from one-day activities to extended projects, schemes, and frameworks).
  • comprehensive, with a seamless workflow around worker qualification libraries, asset scheduling, job progress, photo uploads, instant in-app communication, and on-site streamlining of HSE processes, risk assessments, and asset checks.
  • an app so effortless to use that it ‘just works’. No hanging, crashing, or complicated menus. From job packs to a comprehensive library of manuals and documents, operatives have everything they need on their phones, online and offline, with or without signal.
  • able to build efficiencies. Form submissions trigger notifications, email reports, and initiate workflow automations.

If you’re interested in finding out where we’re heading next, take a look at the full road map.

Learn more about Re-flow’s award-winning field management software.

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