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Microsoft roundtable discussion with Satya Nadella, Global CEO of Microsoft

This week, VAPAR was honoured to be one of eight companies involved in the Microsoft round table discussion with none other than Satya Nadella himself! Amongst his passion for Microsoft Solutions, was his messaging for the Partner network to ensure our customers succeed – even if a competitive solution to Microsoft is a better fit for the project. This was a great reminder to keep the customer at the heart of what we all do to continue to add value.

We’d like to thank Microsoft Australia for the opportunity as it allowed us to obtain such an inspirational takeaway.


Automation and why it’s not taking your job

Automation is a hot topic and is reaching new applications every day, but this should be embraced instead of feared.

Automation used to be seen as some sort of wizardry which was confined to the world of IT and software engineers. The intent of automation is to take out the data intensive, risky or precision requiring tasks to remove error, repetitive strain and risk of injury for the people who had to do these jobs.

Machines and programs are literally manufactured to bear this load. Humans only have one body and, in some industries, it only takes one incident to change your life. Also, does anyone actually enjoy doing the same mind-numbing task over and over again for a year let alone as a career?

The thing that separates people from machines is our creativity, analytical skills and problem solving skills. Studying current applications, if automation is done well it frees up people from doing the jobs they hate and gives them time to focus on the more cognitively difficult processes that require human decision making. This is significantly more fulfilling than “going through the motions” on a process that is repetitive and easily automatable.

On top of this, people are always going to be needed where automation is introduced. Every automation process has “exceptions”, which are cases that don’t fit the bill. These exceptions are traditionally complex or confusing and require detailed analysis. Automation takes away the pressure to get through more cases while allowing you to focus on the cases that really need your attention.

As automation gets introduced to each industry, the industry evolves and expands, and the same people can do so much more fulfilling, value adding tasks.

If you’re interested in hearing more, there is a great TED talk you can watch here:

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When is automation the answer?

Managing large infrastructure asset databases can be time and resource intensive.

But is automation the answer?

Automation is best done for tasks that are:

  1. Manual
  2. Repetitive
  3. High frequency

These types of tasks have ongoing implications for operational expenditure if not automated.

What are some real-world applications for automation in your water business?

If your business manages underground stormwater or sewer pipes, there is now a product to automate the condition assessment and mapping from inspection footage – learn more.

CCTV review – what is it currently costing me?

Engineers spend hundreds of hours a year reviewing, interpreting and creating work orders from the inspection footage results.

The workflow is manual, repetitive and (depending on level of compliance to best practice asset management standards) is done at a high frequency.

The cost per metre is related to the internal operational costs for reviewing the footage, extracting the key data and adding the information to various enterprise databases (like GIS, ERP systems, etc).

If the inspection footage is reviewed, interpreted and recorded in a timely manner then there are further savings and benefits in terms of:

  • Identification and verification of defects that operators miss – picking up issues before they become more serious (and expensive!) problems.
  • Better forecasting in long term financial budgets for maintenance based on actual, unbiased existing asset condition.
  • Better planning of workforce requirements for short term and long term maintenance.

Is there an automated solution for this work?

Yes! Now there is finally a way to review, interpret and record the condition of underground pipes, based on the CCTV inspection footage. It’s all done through a web platform.

Find out more about the web platform and pricing here.