case Study:
Walsall Healthcare
NHS Trust

“Streamlined Energy has been an absolute godsend! Now I can see exactly what is going on.”
Sarah Betts - Facilities Manager, Skanska

Walsall Healthcare NHS FT logo
The Situation

Hundreds of meters spread across an aging estate took at least three days to read and record.

The Challenge

The expense of switching to smart metering was unaffordable and, in many cases, impractical.

The Solution

In 2021, Skanska began using Streamlined Energy to quickly and simply digitally capture the meter readings.

The Result

Greater efficiency has resulted in time savings, so resources can be diverted to client-facing work.
The risk of contractual financial penalties has abated.
There has been a reduction in stress for those involved.

Customer Story

We’d got ourselves into this position where only one person could do the meter readings. If he was off, no one could do it. And, because it was paper-based it was all a bit of a nightmare” explains Sarah Betts, General Manager for Skanska operations on the Walsall Manor Hospital site. Across the site, the hospital had several hundred meters for monitoring energy consumption, but many were hard to access. Few offered the option of smart metering and, even if they could, some had no connectivity options available to them. Each month, one of the facilities engineers would tour the site with a clipboard and record the readings of each of the meters. “The paper would come back to me and I would have to input everything into a spreadsheet” continues Sarah, “and that would go into a report. There was a lot of duplication of effort. We couldn’t really analyse the data correctly, which is what the Trust was looking for – as well as being a contractual obligation. It felt a bit like I was fighting blind - we were doing the bare minimum to get us over the line, but it didn’t feel like we were adding much value to the client.

Photo of Walsall Manor Hospital

Significant reporting obligations

As well as reporting every month, Skanska must present to a quarterly energy efficiency committee, and produce an annual report on energy usage for the Trust. This includes trend analysis and a pain and gain measure. “The energy efficiency itself is not our risk financially” admits Sarah, “but it is our clients. And there are stricter energy targets coming in for the NHS too. So this data is important to the Trust.” If Skanska was to fail to deliver on these obligations, it would incur financial penalties for breach of contract. “The Trust has high expectations of what the information can do for them. Everything we do has points and fines associated with it. Energy has the smallest threshold. If we get something wrong, we’ll incur fines. That’s the last thing we want for us or for the client.

Searching for a better way

Sarah realised there must be an easier way to collate, analyse, understand and present the metering information. “The challenge here is that the client won’t invest in new metering; it’s way down the list of priorities” explains Sarah. “In the NHS, money is tight and the priority is always patient care. Nevertheless, the Trust wanted the energy information to be a bit more intelligent.” Having been introduced to the Streamlined Energy app, Sarah could see that it had the potential to improve accuracy and save time. Sarah Betts states, “We began a trial of Streamlined Energy in April 2021. It went well, so we have gone ahead with using it on a permanent basis.

Using the Streamlined Energy App

Now, the facilities engineers can walk the site with just a tablet device, rather than the previous clipboard with multiple sheets of paper. Using the tablet to take a photo, the engineer can quickly and easily record the meter readings. Anyone can now pick up the job, because the app now guides the engineers around the site from meter to meter. “Previously, if our facilities engineer was off when the meters needed reading, it was a disaster” explains Sarah Betts. “Since we began using the Streamlined Energy app, he has recently been off sick. Our apprentice was able to pick this software up and do exactly the same job. I think that, from a resilience point of view and for performing for our client, that’s fantastic – because he certainly wouldn’t have been able to do that from the clipboard!”. As well as aiding with resilience and succession planning, the app has delivered significant time savings. Instead of taking several days a month, the entire process takes just a few hours.

Increased accuracy saves more time

Once taken, the readings are processed in the cloud by Streamlined Energy’s artificial intelligence algorithms and OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technologies. This ensures that each reading is accurately recorded –eliminating errors and ensuring there is photographic evidence of each dataset. This improved accuracy has delivered further significant time savings. It’s eliminated effort previously taken up with re-work and re-checks when data didn’t match up with previous readings. Sarah estimates that at least ten hours per month have been saved on data collection. A further eight hours have been saved on data entry and re-work. “Now we have more time to do other things; the facilities engineers can spend their time on the helpdesk, answering client queries. But for me, it’s not just the time savings or the money associated with that, it’s the peace of mind and confidence in what we are doing. You can’t quantify that value but, with a consultant on-site being employed by the Trust to scrutinise us contractually, it’s priceless,” says Sarah, “I have full confidence in the data now. There was always that worry when it came to the annual report that there’d been a mistake that we hadn’t picked up on at the time. Now, that data is evidence-backed as well. It’s removed so much stress – I can sleep at the end of each month!

Improved reporting

I honestly think we give a lot more value to the Trust“ says Sarah. “Before, unless you really knew what you were looking at, it’s hard to imagine anyone getting much value out of the pages of spreadsheets. Now, there’s trends, there’s graphs, there’s performance metrics and benchmarking against targets”. The Skanska team has received good feedback from the Trust about the reporting. “It was exactly what they wanted to see” continues Sarah, “They’ve started to ask questions about energy efficiency now because there is something meaningful to talk about”. Now the data is efficiently collected and accurate, the Skanska team can look for opportunities to enhance the information – assessing which meter readings are not necessary to collect and where it might be advantageous to add metering in order to gain more granular understanding of energy use. Sarah Betts concludes, “It’s nice now that we have anew, streamlined way of getting the metering data, as well as the specialist help behind that. And we’re living one of Skanska’s objectives – which is to use technology to be better. I can honestly say that, from my point of view, having a system like this that manages itself is heavenly”.

Next Steps

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