How Alpha Software Helped Digitally Transform Energy Inspections

Darol Harrison P.E. and  CEO of the Building Engineering Company presents a case study at Alpha DevCon 2018.As energy costs continue to rise, and the world looks for ways to combat climate change, the energy rating industry for homes and businesses has been changing from a sometimes sleepy backwater to a central part of the way real estate is bought, managed and maintained. 

That means the industry needs to digitally transform itself, so it can more quickly, accurately and inexpensively calculate the HERS energy index for buildings, which is the equivalent of the MPG rating for cars. But that’s easier said than done. Many inspection companies have a difficult time making the switch from old paper-based inspections to digital ones, like a building inspection app or an energy rating app.

Digitizing Energy Inspections with an Energy Audit App

The Building Engineering Company found itself in that position, says Darol Harrison, principal engineer and  CEO of the company, and was looking for a solution. Inspectors, he notes, have to capture a tremendous amount of data on paper, working under very difficult conditions, sometimes in attics during summers at temperatures upwards of 130 degrees. After that, the data needs to be transferred to the company’s internal systems, which takes a considerable amount of time, often 100 hours of work for 50 houses. The primary problem he faced was that no existing mobile app had the most current technology available to energy rating workers for doing all that.

So Harrison took matters into his own hands and turned to the full Alpha Software platform to solve the problem. He used Alpha Transform to mobilize the data capture process. Using it, he built a mobile app to replace paper forms. 

The inspection app is able to:

  • Auto-populates forms, speeding data collection in the field on a mobile device
  • Adds images and mapping and more to the inspection process
  • Integrate data with existing systems of record
  • Collect data when offline and sync information when reconnected

Benefits of an Energy Audit App

With Alpha TransForm, field workers have increased inspection throughput, improved data accuracy and made the data available to the company’s systems immediately. Integrating data to backend systems and third-party software is key to his company’s mobile transformation, he says, and that’s where Alpha Transform really paid off. He says that with Alpha Transform, “There is no limit - the only limit is our imagination!"

The benefits of Building Engineer's new inspection apps have been dramatic. Results include on-site savings of 30 minutes per house and office time savings of 30 to 60 minutes per house – leading to a total savings of between one and one and a half hours per house.  For his largest clients Harrison expects to save between 40 and 60 man hours per week. And it’s helping him build a new recurring-revenue SaaS business.

Final Thoughts

Moving away from the paper forms your team is used to can be a daunting task. However, when done correctly with a mobile inspection app that streamlines data capture, increases accuracy, and maximizes productivity, the benefits far outweigh concerns. This is especially true when working with a platform that allows for fast development with a high degree of customization

Head here for more information about how businesses in the oil, gas and energy industry can build offline-capable field apps with ease. And read how an offline equipment inspection app built with Alpha Anywhere helped a company increase worker safety and data accuracy.


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About Author

Amy Groden-Morrison
Amy Groden-Morrison

Amy Groden-Morrison has served more than 15 years in marketing communications leadership roles at companies such as TIBCO Software, RSA Security and Ziff-Davis. Most recently she was responsible for developing marketing programs that helped achieve 30%+ annual growth rate for analytics products at a $1Bil, NASDAQ-listed business integration Software Company. Her past accomplishments include establishing the first co-branded technology program with CNN, launching an events company on the NYSE, rebranding a NASDAQ-listed company amid a crisis, and positioning and marketing a Boston-area startup for successful acquisition. Amy currently serves as a Healthbox Accelerator Program Mentor, Marketing Committee Lead for the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Launch Smart Clinics, and on the organizing team for Boston TechJam. She holds an MBA from Northeastern University.

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