AGL Energy has been a standout pioneer in Australia, literally keeping the lights on for over four million gas and electricity for customers for over 180 years. Now the market leader is in the midst of a digital transformation designed to bolster its competitive advantage, and meet rising customer demands in a fast-changing industry.

“We’re responsible for managing critical energy infrastructure nationwide, and need flexible technology in order to operate and respond to crises. As we expand and innovate through acquisitions and partnerships, we needed an integrated system with standardised technology and processes,” said Shaun Code, general manager of enterprise technology at AGL Energy. “With a rich API layer, the SAP S/4HANA ERP platform provides a core ecosystem with the ability to adapt and extend operations, directly supporting our business growth and differentiating innovation.”

Tech boosts health and safety innovation

AGL Energy replaced over 50 disparate legacy ERP applications with SAP S/4HANA ERP, dramatically simplifying systems with consistent processes throughout the organisation. Teams are taking advantage of the integrated core platform to build extensions on top of critical business processes, such as health and safety requirements.

“We conduct walks to identify potential hazards in facilities or the field,” said Code. “Building on top of the SAP Business Technology Platform, we’ve developed a mobile app that allows our people to capture and share incidents and hazardous conditions immediately. We can conduct more walks over a shorter time period, increasing our ability to meet health and safety commitments.”

AGL Energy recently won an SAP Innovation Award for its AGL One iOS app. Built on SAP S/4 HANA with SAP Integration Suite and SAP Extension Suite, the mobile app provides employees with one seamless digital experience, allowing them to access the right tool at the right time from anywhere.

Digital platform minimizes plant downtime

As the largest electricity generator in Australia, plant maintenance for AGL Energy is not just about scheduling work orders and completing tasks in a timely manner. Integrating data from SAP cloud solutions, including SAP Fieldglass and SAP Ariba, provides AGL Energy with visibility across systems, including procurement and its important contract workforce.

“The platform is a unifying hub for effective integration and automation that streamlines our end-to-end daily processes,” said Code. “We can make sure that we have the parts to maintain operations, the contingent workers to complete the job, and the speed to pay our suppliers efficiently.”

Sixty percent time-savings from continuous innovation

AGL Energy has made a number of valuable process improvements on top of SAP S/4HANA, notably an intuitive mobile app that reduced the number of steps in job site environmental analyses by 60 percent. Before work can be done on sites with hazards, teams need to have effective controls in place for people’s safety. Previously, teams used different processes and places to collect and store information.

“We’ve sped up the process with automatically prepopulated data to complete forms, and unified approvals with consistent documentation across the company,” said Code. “People now can spend less time navigating paperwork and more time ensuring their work is completed safely. With a continuous data loop feedback we are constantly improving processes that matter to our business.”

Flexibility for resilient business

When AGL Energy’s employees switched to remote work at the height of the pandemic last year, the company’s automated system literally helped power business continuity. Employees in different locations were easily trained to step in as health and weather-related events unfolded.

“Having a well-designed cloud-based system meant we could quickly scale up to thousands of employees working from home,” said Code. “It also gave us greater planning control during a highly uncertain time, with the flexibility to shift operations between Australia and India in the wake of major disruptions, including a cyclone.”

Cloud platform connects data and insights

Business results from centralising ERP systems on one platform have been palpable company-wide. Because leaders have a clear line of sight through inventory and procurement, work completion rates are faster with fewer instances of costly rescheduling. Sharing inventory data between warehouses at different generator sites saves time and reduces costs. The company can easily find and reuse available equipment, instead of ordering new parts from far flung suppliers. In procurement, teams can more easily source the right goods and services from the right suppliers at the best price. The impact on financial systems has also been profound, reducing the time spent on month-end closings from days to hours.

AGL Energy epitomises the evolving business opportunities from the collision between technology and the industry itself.

“There’s never been a more exciting time to be in the energy industry,” said Code. “We are committed to this digital transformation journey with our customers and partners. Whether customers are getting power from solar panels, charging battery-operated EVs and other devices, going online, or just staying comfortable and connected at any time, technology underpins our determination to make services more sustainable, reliable and affordable.”

This article also featured on SAPBrandVoice on Forbes