Optimized Route Density for Lower Solar Asset Management Cost

Optimized Route Density for Lower Solar Asset Management Cost

Portfolio managers have a lot to coordinate. Apart from planned-for scheduled maintenance, break-fixes, and other unscheduled maintenance, there are major threats to keeping solar assets online consistently. This can be a challenge, especially as assets are acquired across long distances, which is often the case. 

Although both residential and commercial solar is on the upswing, with 2 million in assets now online across the U.S., home solar and commercial sites can still be spread out over dozens or even hundreds of miles (and hours). 

Standard deployment for technicians in the field is inefficient, to say the least. Most portfolio managers are paying a significant percentage more than they need to just to keep sites operational. A more efficient system could reduce the complexity of executing work orders, and thus significantly reduce costs. 

True Costs of O&M Break-Fix Deployment

For example, let’s say an asset manager has 10,000 assets in northern California. At any given time, anywhere between 2.5 percent to 10 percent of residential or commercial solar assets will have an issue in a year. 

Starting on the conservative end of these percentages, a solar portfolio manager might have around 250 work orders per year. That’s at least one service ticket every day they’ll have to pay a technician to go out and complete. The technician could be driving from San Francisco to Fresno because that’s where the assets are located. 

One or two technicians can generally service those 10,000 assets. However, paying them to fix one or two tickets per day adds up to a lot of windshield time, a lot of extra fuel costs, and a tighter timeframe to actually fix the problem once the technician is on-site. 

If a technician is behind the windshield for three hours in a day, then their day can only consist of three and a half work orders that take one hour apiece. And they have to drive there. The solution is to get these ticket routes as dense as possible to cut down on windshield time. This enables techs to service as many homes or commercial sites as possible.

SunSystem’s Optimized Routes

With better route density, SunSystem makes the most of service tickets when assets go down. These optimized routes result in significant financial and time-saving benefits for portfolio managers and field technicians, such as: 

  • Increase in the number of completed work orders per day
  • Increase efficiency of time-on-site 
  • Reduction of drive time per day
  • Decrease in fuel costs 
  • Decrease in labor costs per work order 

For asset managers, all of these pluses mean healthier profit margins. For technicians, it can mean better use of their time and lower operational costs, helping them to boost profit as well. 

Instead of trying to manage technicians to fill one service ticket per day, SunSystem can call on our strategically placed technicians and get four to six jobs done every day. Our goal is five and a half service tickets per technician, per day. 

Route density, in a nutshell, means we make sure the work is done more effectively and proficiently, and then we get on to the next one. This cuts down on everybody’s cost.

How Route Optimization is Accomplished

Our proprietary software helps us plan and pull technicians where they’re needed on a map. We have strategically placed technicians across our territory, which leads to better route optimization.

SunSytem has over 170 technicians employed across the country as part of this strategy. With both a 30,000-foot view and the ability to zero in where we need to, we can easily find someone nearby to tackle issues quicker and at a lower cost. 

The other leg of our route optimization strategy is having a large pool of portfolio management partners to pull from. The wider our net and the deeper the pool, the lower the costs can be for everyone. 

An asset manager alone can’t take care of these maintenance issues as inexpensively or as efficiently as we can because we aggregate all of our partners together. Whether asset managers have a single or several tickets in one day, we can get them done quicker with our internal technicians.

The process is also more straightforward. For a portfolio manager, having to manage a subcontractor network of 50 to 60 different people in different states and regions is more complex than tapping into SunSystem—one single partner who is already there.