The Group reacted promptly to the new scenario following the Covid-19 outbreak. A series of measures have been implemented to address the needs of the new context, with two main objectives:
- Guarantee that the network could distribute gas safely and without any interruption.
- Ensure that the entire organization could continue to be operational while safeguarding people’s health, the communities in which we operate, our clients and suppliers.
Those goals have been achieved through a well-structured action plan, which leveraged on the high innovation and digitization level today available to Italgas, given the transformation process launched three years ago.
The key points of the response plan to Covid-19 and the results of the new way of working
As from 21 February 2020, when the presence of the first Covid-19 cases in Italy was detected, Italgas rapidly established an Emergency Agile Team, i.e. a team composed of five senior managers that have taken new decisions on a daily basis, depending on the evolution of the situation, with the aim to guarantee the safety and health of people.
Another priority has been to ensure that the network remained safe and fully operational, with the aim to provide continuity of both maintenance and gas distribution to customers, while non-essential activities were stopped by Government decree starting from 22 March 2020.
Suppliers, as well as vendors, have been the subject of specific attentions, with a view to guaranteeing the safety and stability of the supply chain, in a true long-term partnership logic.
Since the early days of Covid-19 outbreak in Italy, more than 4,000 employees have been enabled to work remotely. All personnel – technicians, workers, clerks, and executives – received at least one mobile device – a smart phone and/or a tablet – to work with. Therefore, they could connect to Italgas IT system without encountering any problems.
In addition to having multiplied the use of digital tools, being able to rely on the applications implemented by the Digital Factory over time, Italgas has also promptly redesigned the way to work on field.
Within a few weeks, this resulted in a tenfold increase both in mobile handset connections – excluding smartphones and tablets – and in the number of videoconferences. Moreover, in-chat messages among employees increased more than seven times. Such explosion of digital communications took place within an environment that protects information and without interruption in the system operation.
The highest priority has been given to c.20% of the network interventions, which have been carried out with additional protection measures of the people involved, both for Italgas employees and for customers that were in emergency situations.
Leveraging on effective communication systems with customers, Italgas could clearly identify in advance the intervention needs. This pattern of behavior has increased the success rate at the first attempt by 27%. In the new context, Italgas has also experienced a 38% reduction in emergency calls.
Lastly, the use of Picarro Surveyors to identify any leaks in the network has been highly intensified compared to the use of traditional machines. By using an innovative system – Cavity Ring-Dow Spectroscopy, or CRDS – Picarro Surveyors can detect a leak within a 500-meters radius, without passing directly over the gas pipes.
On 4 May 2020, Italy entered the ‘Phase 2’ of the lockdown. This made it possible to resume all operational activities that can be carried out in open spaces.
If innovation and digitization have made it possible to continue to operate effectively and safely in the hardest time of the virus emergency, their role will be even more crucial in speeding up the process of returning to be fully operational, ensuring the health of our workers, customers and suppliers.