SaskPower, Saskatchewan’s leading energy supplier, recently participated in a virtual hackathon around SAP Business Technology Platform to workshop a solution that will save the company time and labor surrounding its cumbersome energy meter return process.

SaskPower is responsible for serving over 540,000 customer accounts within Saskatchewan’s geographic area of approximately 652,000 square kilometers. With that many customers spread across such a vast territory, sorting the 700 to 950 energy meters that are expected to be returned to the company daily during its AMI smart meter rollout is no small task. The manual process of entering serial numbers into a spreadsheet to determine the dispensation of this returned inventory is time- and labor-intensive, and prone to errors. The process needed to be energized.

When the SaskPower team received an invitation to participate in the three-day virtual hackathon on SAP Business Technology Platform, they jumped at the chance to use SAP technology to solve this business problem. Leading into the event, SaskPower got its business partners excited, picked out team uniforms, briefed the developer team on the task, and then dove in.

“The hackathon was a great opportunity to try out SAP tools available to our business,” said Terry Chadwick, SAP solutions architect at SaskPower. “We didn’t even think about saying no. Our team was very excited, and we jumped in to see what we could come up with.”

On day one, the SaskPower team learned all about the SAP tools at their disposal. On day two, they went to work building a conceptual framework and application. Finally, on day three, the team put the finishing touches on the app and presented to the judges. The app framework was built using a combination of SAP products, including SAP Cloud Application Programming Model and SAPUI5, SAP Workflow Management, SAP Business Rules Management, SAP Launchpad service, SAP Conversational AI, and business optical character recognition.

The result was a win for the SaskPower team with the development of the Mobile Meter Return app. Returning meters will no longer require manual data entry, and validations in the app will help protect against manual data entry errors. Now, when meters come back into the facility, meters will be scanned and validated. The tool will automatically perform the goods movement processes to receive the meters into the warehouse, recommending how the meter will be managed — for example, the meter could be marked for retirement or for reuse.

SaskPower plans to take the theoretical to the practical and is building the app, with plans to have it fully deployed in the field by August 2021.

“We had a great experience at the hackathon and winning is a testament to the hard work our team put in,” said Terry Collins, solutions architect at SaskPower. “Our coach from the SAP BTP team could not have been more supportive, and we have a great deal of trust in him and his team. Because of the strength of this relationship, we’re able to collaborate and create solutions that make our business nimbler and, ultimately, more intelligent.”

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Bruno Guerrero is a senior solution advisor for SAP Business Technology Platform.