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Optimize Your Solar Manufacturing Business with Field Service Management

Table of Contents

Solar manufacturing is booming in America. The solar photovoltaic panels manufacturing and energy storage markets are rapidly growing in the wake of incentives brought by the Inflation Reduction Act. Manufacturing of Balance of System products like inverters has expanded significantly since 2022, despite the wide economic downturn. In fact, the global inverter market is projected to reach US$ 18.97 billion in 2029, while the global solar racking/mounting systems market size was valued at $15.3 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach a record $21 billion by 2028.

As a manufacturer of components for solar power systems, your business is a vital part of America’s green energy transformation. And while the bulk of what you do is design and manufacturing, many companies offer installation and O&M services as well. You and your teams may be struggling to optimize those field operations to nurture mutually beneficial relationships with partner installers and provide superior customer experiences.

Are any of these scenarios familiar?

When your field techs go onsite to check connections or take measurements for your recently installed deep cycle battery storage system, does manual, time-consuming documentation get in the way?

Are the maintenance teams for your panel manufacturing business lacking the ability to communicate in real-time with customers when out on a replacement job or annual cleaning?

Is your inverter business lacking adequate inventory management – as in teams at the warehouse and in the field don’t have the most recent data about available parts or equipment needed to perform repairs?

As a fast-growing solar manufacturing business, you don’t want to be slowed down by workflow impediments like these. It might be time to consider field service management.

Field Service Management for Operational Excellence

Field service management (FSM) digitizes and automates workflows and customer interactions for the field service aspects of your business. It helps businesses like solar, energy storage, HVAC, and roofing streamline operations and deliver superior customer service. FSM has a number of key features:

  • Work order management allowing office and onsite teams to coordinate scheduling, administrative tasks, and asset management
  • Prospect and customer data tracking documentation organization
  • Real-time office staff, field technician, and customer communication
  • Analytics and reporting that facilitate data-driven decision making
  • A mobile component that empowers field crews and service techs

Optimized Installation and Service Request Management

Whether your crews are installing panels or a standalone energy storage project, repairing your flagship racking system for a carport array, or providing ongoing maintenance to a string inverter for a residential rooftop system, processes can be complex and require efficiency. With FSM, all aspects of work order management, such as data exchange, scheduling, dispatch, and communication, are simplified with the mobile app.

Comprehensive Work Order Management

Field service management allows you and your supervisors to have a full view of team capacity, utilization, and performance.

Capabilities of Work Order Management with FSM

  • Add and track jobs of all types and statuses → dedicated work order management in one place
  • Smart, automated scheduling → effective management of planned preventative maintenance
  • Maintain database of technician skill sets and certifications → shortened dispatch cycle
  • Route assignment and optimization → optimize the use of multiple technicians time day-to-day
  • Location tracking and mapping → real-time tech oversight
  • Customizable job checklists → full quality assurance

FSM minimizes unnecessary truck rolls, unplanned absences, and cancellations. While a good installation by skilled technicians is the first step to protecting end users from subpar performance, your company must be able to provide consistent predictive maintenance to avoid costly truck rolls whenever an issue pops up.

Superior Communication Capabilities

FSM transforms communication among your back office, field teams, partner installers, and customers. With the mobile component all stakeholders are kept in the loop with real-time and automated notifications and alerts. Field techs and administration can chat and share job notes, and attach images. and leave instructions within a work order. Communication with partner installers is instantaneous and automated when needed.

FSM’s communication tools also bolster the customer experience because field techs:

  • Have the most up-to-date project information
  • Perform administrative services instantly
  • Send automated messages and reminders about job status, scheduling changes, and invoices

Ultimately, your teams deliver a user-friendly, instantaneous, and digitized service experience. For example, given that an effective, well-executed O&M plan for an energy storage system must be in place from the beginning, a management system that makes that a reality is key. With field service management, your supervisors and technicians have up-to-date, ready access to all the necessary information to provide an optimized maintenance process for system end users.

Data-Driven Business Insights

Reports and analytics with field service management allow your executive staff to collect and analyze production data from your manufacturing floor and servicing data out in the field. This way, you are better able to make adjustments to workflows that improve equipment usage, ensure asset lifespan, and support engineering decisions.

Reports and Analytics Features

  • Proactive monitoring of installation and O&M workflows
  • Assessment of employee capabilities, cost allocations, and asset and inventory usage
  • Analysis of estimated time for tasks versus the actual time it takes to complete them
  • Fleet vehicle data to predict maintenance requirements and avoid lag in vehicle usage
  • Anticipation of service visits before the need becomes urgent
  • Simplified Administrative Tasks

Projects stay on track with organized administrative processes such as customer and project data management, paperwork for permitting (so key with solar and energy storage installations), and accounting and financing. FSM minimizes issues that drain profits such as incorrect customer data or disorganized permitting applications.

Paperwork and Data Administration for Greater Efficiency

An FSM solution holds every contact, related document, work order detail, and conversation about and with installers, third-party service providers, and customers all in one place. Your teams enjoy real-time access to customer and project details. This mitigates the need for change orders and enables staff to respond to customer needs quickly.

Your field staff have access to:

  • Highly organized paperwork and the latest job data
  • Easy document and image attachment for jobs
  • Digital document delivery and signature collection
  • Online proposal and invoice prep
  • Administration designed custom templates for each step of the project data management process

Your onsite sales reps and field techs are armed with the most up-to-date data regarding designs, proposals, contracts, and permitting paperwork. All this allows for better accountability, well-informed interactions with installers, and more personalized customer experiences. FSM grants field techs visibility around design data and delivers the detailed accuracy needed to meet your commissioning protocols.

Streamlined Financing and Accounting Processes

Field service management expedites your entire accounting process. Supervisors and field crews experience:

  • Easy administration of staff timesheets and project expenses
  • Digitized customer billing and collections
  • Integrated and automated quoting, invoicing, and payment collection
  • Intuitive integration with company calendar and preferred accounting software

The Power of Digitized Asset and Inventory Management

Supply chain costs and availability have been unpredictable as of late due to factors around policy, shipping, global pressures, and pandemic-related complications. Keeping assets functioning at maximum and effectively managing inventory can mitigate the impact of these variables on your bottom line.

Total Transparency with Field Service Management

  • Tracking and management of all equipment and assets
  • Comprehensive overview of inventory from anywhere using any device
  • Optimized asset functioning and inventory use over the lifetime of an install
  • Management of shipments, PPM, and warehouse stock
  • Integrations with cloud-based inventory solutions
  • Configurable dashboard for a bird’s eye view

With FSM, your back-office and field techs gain complete control over assets in the field with data capture of component configuration as well as information regarding installation, warranties, and servicing dates. For both inverter and energy storage companies, teams must have easy access to all the equipment and parts needed to minimize the impact of a breakdown. FSM’s effective asset and inventory management grants these capabilities.

Superior Field Service Operations with Zuper

Zuper offers the most flexible and customizable field service management solution for manufacturing companies in the renewables space. Core capabilities include a full productivity suite that comes with easy booking, intelligent dispatching, work order management, analytics, alerts and notifications, paperwork, and data management, customizable checklists as well as industry-leading mobile applications, and much more. Plus, the Zuper FSM solution enables premier integrations with 60+ popular apps like Zoho, QuickBooks, HubSpot, Field Nation, Wisetack, Slack, and Salesforce.

Businesses that design and build solar photovoltaic panels, inverters, energy storage systems, monitoring equipment, and racking/mounting solutions are the backbone of solar and storage here and abroad. More and more manufacturing businesses, green and otherwise, are relying on Zuper’s automated workflows to enable field workforce collaboration and deliver their customers the best possible customer experience.

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