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Breaking with tradition: Visayan Electric employs the aid of robots

INNOVATION: Visayan Electric team members developing and utilizing state-of-the-art robotic software to improve system processes and output.

One of the goals of Visayan Electric as part of its vision of becoming a world class electric utilities provider is digitalization. Projects under this goal have already been and are in the process of being deployed such as the eBillTxt and MobileAP. However, this was no easy task. Imagine going through tens of thousands of customer profiles and enrolling them into a system - MANUALLY, and this is just one of the many issues that challenged the electric company. 

As one of the leading companies in Cebu for innovation, Visayan Electric developed software robots to help with such gargantuan tasks. Robotic Process Automation, better known as RPA, is a software robotics that imitates/mimics the tasks of employees to deload their repetitive workloads.

“We want our employees to spend their time on more value-adding tasks rather than doing repetitive tasks that take up most of their time,” said Engr. Daryl Bonbon, Head of Customer Services for Visayan Electric. This has led to the creation of various software robots that provide solutions to that exact problem. 

An example of RPA that Visayan Electric developed is BOSS or Builder Offline Service for SAAD. “This robot ‘builds’ (creates) approved accounts in our Customer Care & Billing system (CCB), [which] lessens the tasks of our service center Customer Service Representatives (CSRs),” said Engr. Ninette Soten, RPA lead developer. “This also improves our response time as previously, it would take an average of 14 hours per application before it is being uploaded or encoded to our CCB,” she added. 

Another set of robots that have been developed by Visayan Electric is fad.ER (read as fader), which stands for Field Activity Dispatching Robot and farm.ER (read as farmer), which stands for field activity reports management Encoding Robot. Fad.ER is a robot that 'dispatches’ (generates) field activity ready for the company’s field crews, while the farm.ER ‘encodes’ (updates) that field activity to Completed status. These specific robots significantly increased the efficiency of the company in handling consumer requests such as meter replacements, pole relocations, etc. In just two weeks, since the 30th of January this year, more than 2,600 field activities have been created and dispatched by fad.ER and farm.ER, a number which would normally take more than two weeks to complete if done manually.

The three aforementioned robots are just some of the robots that are currently being developed by Visayan Electric. According to Engr. Soten, creating the robots was not an easy task, especially for her who is not a computer scientist nor an IT graduate, however, she is thankful that Visayan Electric and Aboitiz gave her the opportunity to learn and let her outside of her comfort zone.

Visayan Electric takes pride in making sure that employees like Engr. Soten are given opportunities to learn new skills, and the company is committed to innovate and develop new technologies in line with its mission of providing safe and reliable electric service to the people and businesses they serve. 

“Although it may look like our employees are the ones benefiting from these innovations, at the end of the day, it’s still our customers that will reap its benefits as this would significantly increase our efficiency, therefore serving our customers better and faster,” expressed Engr. Bonbon.

Visayan Electric is the second largest electric utility in the Philippines. It serves the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Talisay, Naga and four municipalities of the greater part of Metro Cebu -- Liloan, Consolacion, Minglanilla and San Fernando.


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