Changing the Game: William Bessa-Simmons Drives an 85% Reduction in Street Works Penalties for Cadent Gas with Vyntelligence

An 85% reduction in street works penalties! Read on to understand how William changed the game in Cadent’s ‘Eyes on The Ground’ programme, in partnership with Vyntelligence.

Utilities have always been a key part of the structural network of a nation. As a result, they are also quite heavily regulated and slow-moving. With the world being dominated by technological advancements from smart survey tools to AI redefining the way we operate with our teams, assets and customers. Utilities are in need and under pressure to quickly embrace digital transformation.

“In the utility industry, we’re just so used to this is how we’ve always done it, and we’re limiting
ourselves. The technology is out there, we’re just not embracing it. There’s nothing that stops us
except our own imagination.”

Legacy systems and heritage processes have resulted in a waterfall approach to innovation where teams often wait till all parts of the process are ready before launching. In the fast-moving age where customers are expecting an Amazon-style level of convenience in their experiences and a lack of timely responsiveness results in financial costs, a few game-changers are applying a progressive approach to Innovation.

We spoke with William Bessa-Simons, Senior Investment Delivery Manager at Cadent Gas on how he’s helped champion the adoption and success of new innovation for their street works mains replacement programme. Across a large geographic area that spans the entire East Midlands in the UK, there are various teams in various work streams operating on the ground potentially without daily oversight or coverage of their activities in the field.

When working on programmes that directly impact the public, the pressure to monitor work, give and get feedback from the sites and ensure prompt issue resolution is high. In addition, Cadent have to legally comply with NRSWA (New Roads and Street Works Act). Problems arise when they don’t meet the standard, there are legal and financial implications with customers being impacted and traffic complaints raising the programmes’ operating costs.

Enter ‘Eyes on the Ground’

A partnership between Cadent Gas and Vyntelligence to get visibility across ALL their operations, gathering real-time information and creating a strong feedback loop across teams. With a responsibility to plan and successfully deliver the company’s investments for East Midlands, William has been championing new innovation and driving strong results. So much so that they have “changed the way they look at street works”. William mentioned that he believes engaging partnerships are the key to driving success. Bringing on Vyn was a “no brainer”, but driving adoption across teams and contractors was slightly harder. After testing the success of Vyn, one method Will applied was to make it a part of the contractors’ contractual agreement to use the technology.

“It’s always nice to have always engaged people. And then when you’re not getting the level of engagement you need, you then need to use the tools. And we’re trying to use the contract as a means of helping people to see the benefits of it.”

This quickly established Vyn as a technology for compliance, but also as a technology for trust. Trust, not only between Cadent’s teams and their contractors, but between contractors and their insurers as well.

“Our contractors are looking at it from a liability and insurance point of view because if somebody gets injured, that liability and insurance risk usually gets transferred to them because they’ve not maintained compliance on the site.”

By using Vyn SmartVideoNotes, contractors have direct video evidence of their compliance on site to challenge against any claim. William shared that with Vyn, they saw a 70% in the first year. Now they’re at an 85% reduction!

“Today we are the best performing Cadent network because we are picking up issues and correcting them before we get a charge.”

This is due to the active reviewing and feedback of compliance from teams on site through video, building assurance and a culture of efficiency. Managers could review the videos whilst the teams were on site to provide feedback and ensure the highest level of compliance and a timely resolution where required. Success comes with its own challenges. Upon successful adoption, the quantity of videos being uploaded by contractors and field teams became difficult for managers to review in time. William shared that they currently have around 80 videos a day which is already proving difficult to assess and they are soon to scale further.

“We don’t want our people to work anymore harder than they do, we just want them to work smarter and we’re giving them the tools to do those things now”.

To scale effectively, William opted to use the Vyntelligence AI capabilities that helped automatically flag issues from the videos, showing the teams which ones required a priority review. In addition, with each person having to timestamp the video as part of the review process, they then had data on how many videos were being reviewed, alongside having more data from the site surveys to inform smarter decisions.

“I think for me, the real big change in there, is that other utilities can use this to drive compliance on site.”

The value, ROI and benefits were clear for William and his team. His passion for finding efficiencies and productivity through innovation led him to share with others in a cross-utility forum the value of using video for street works.

“I was proud to say, look … this is a good way for us to show you what we’ve got, and just being proud to say we have a tool that we can see our site without even having to travel.”

He was happy to hear that “it just took them by surprise how we value the tool that we have and what it does for us”. William took the value of using Vyn SmartVideoNotes, internalised it by understanding its benefits and applications, and drove its adoption and success not only internally within his organisation, but also across his contractor teams and even encouraged other utilities. That behaviour to see value and run after it with a core belief that it will help him and his teams do more with less.

Ancel Boucher, VP, Customer Transformation at Vyntelligence and William Bessa-Simmons, Senior Investment Delivery Manager at Cadent Gas

Our industry expert and VP, Customer Transformation, Ancel Boucher commented “William was there from the very start, a game changer through and through, the pace at which he grabbed video and AI as an enabler for change was remarkable, he ran with it, not afraid to test and refine as he went, pace was key”

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