Welcome to APEX Data Consulting, your resource for turning critical operational, financial and business data into more meaningful strategic and tactical information that is easier to access and manage across a broad range of planning, reporting and analytical requirements. From optimizing planning and reporting processes to helping utilities use data mining and analytics to detect and stop energy theft, APEX Data Consulting offers the tools and expertise to get the job done.
APEX Data Consulting works with organizations to assess their information system needs, trouble-shoot problems, and recommend and implement enhancements that significantly improve operational and decision-making effectiveness. The firm develops and deploys a combination of database, spreadsheet, analytical modeling and other tools to streamline information gathering and management while delivering new and more meaningful analytical insights across a wide variety of business operations.
Business Data Solutions
Turning Data into Meaningful Information
APEX Data Consulting is your resource for turning critical financial and business data into more meaningful strategic and tactical information that is easier to access and manage across a broad range of planning, reporting and analytical requirements.
We provide small business owners and corporate management teams with a resource for getting more out of their data while significantly enhancing the efficiency and accuracy of their planning, reporting and other business information and intelligence systems. Rick closes the gap between the business problem and the information-system solution, and is adept at simplifying even the most well-established processes while offering new opportunities to enhance operational planning, management and decision-making capabilities.
Improving Operational Decision-Making
APEX trouble-shoots problems, and recommends and implements enhancements that significantly improve operational and decision-making effectiveness. We develop and deploy a combination of database, spreadsheet, analytical modeling and other solutions to streamline information gathering and management while delivering new and more meaningful analytical insights across a wide variety of business operations.
A Virtual Team
APEX works with a virtual team of system-development partners who enable us to scale our offering to fit any requirement, from small, short-term projects through larger and more complex system implementations. A unique blend of finance and accounting experience, data-mining creativity, and system-development expertise enables APEX to provide valuable counsel and guidance on both sides of the consulting assignment, as a bridge between the business and IT teams. Additionally, past collaborations with some of the world’s leading economists enable APEX to bring unique, high-value expertise to a wide variety of business planning/forecasting and analytical modeling challenges.
Energy Revenue Protection Analytics
Improve Revenues, Load Management and Grid Safety
APEX Data Consulting offers a grid-wide data analytics service that ensures every meter can be remotely reviewed and analyzed every six to 12 months to quickly and easily identify and mitigate the risks of problems including:
- Power-diversion fraud and associated losses from uncaptured past and future revenues
- Faulty secondary connections that impact safety and operational integrity
- GIS Mapping errors that prevent accurate transformer load monitoring
Utilities that commit to systematically identifying these problems can significantly improve their grid’s safety, efficiency and profitability. APEX makes this possible, complementing a utility’s other revenue protection tools and processes to help identify significantly more diverted loads than is possible with usage-pattern analytics software, while also generating valuable data required for optimal placement of load-monitoring meters.
A Combination of Art and Science
APEX Data Consulting’s service finds theft, faulty connections and safety risks that are revealed through voltage anomalies -- a proven technique based on electrical science that was used to successfully identify 700+ cases of energy diversion or meter integrity problems at Modesto Irrigation District between 2012 and 2017.
Usually performed manually on a transformer-by-transformer basis, voltage analytics has been extremely difficult to implement because no software tools exist that can automatically isolate and assess low-voltage outliers and determine their root cause. APEX solves this problem by applying custom filtering/correlation algorithms and queries across a utility’s extremely large Smart Grid data sets, leveraging our in-depth understanding of the top dozen voltage interrelationships among and between meters and transformers that signal safety or theft issues. We continuously iterate and refine our algorithms and queries as meter-to-transformer interrelationships and diversion techniques evolve.
Proven Success, Immediate ROI
The APEX Data Consulting meter analytics service pays for itself – and then some. Our costs to recover energy loss and stop future theft are far less than the dollar amount that can be recovered, and the service simultaneously delivers other benefits including identifying safety risks from faulty connections and mapping errors that hinder load management systems.
Our service begins paying for itself immediately because of the high success rate of our techniques and how prevalent energy diversions are, industry-wide. With the average utility experiencing diversions in at least 1% of its meters at an average loss of $12,000 to $15,000 each in revenues, our service covers its costs even if revenues are recovered from only five diversions in the first month and two additional diversions each month thereafter.
Over the course of a year, the typical 100,000-meter utility using our service can realize from $12 million to $15 million in recaptured revenues -- a nearly 400x ROI from back billings, alone, not counting the incremental revenue from new, higher streams after diversions are corrected.
Sample Successes – Utilities and Energy Industry
Utility Energy Revenue Protection
While Gary Fromm was with Modesto Irrigation District leading its transition to smart metering, he was simultaneously researching new methods for leveraging grid data to help identify energy theft. One of the most promising early approaches was the use of meter voltage analytics, which enabled him to find his first major 100 amp diverted load within the first three days of data review and charting areas of high standard deviation across the utility’s transformers.
At first, meter voltage analytics was performed manually on a hit-and-miss basis, transformer by transformer. Gary and Rick began working together to automate the process, testing a variety of data correlations and associated queries against the utility’s large data sets, and how well they brought back only the meters most likely to have fraud or connection problems that needed further investigation. As these data analytics techniques were refined, results improved to the point that all results exposed problems that required resolution and MID was identifying approximately 100 diverted loads per year and recapturing $2.6 million in associated revenues, annually.
Utility Connection-Fee Planning and Analysis
Created and managed models for projecting utility connection-fee costs, revenues, cash flows and capital needs for a 30-year capital budget plan used to negotiate fee options and adjustments.
Automated Building Energy Auditing
Created a data gathering and analysis system for performing comprehensive facility energy-usage audits.
Sample Successes – Business Data Solutions
Real Estate Supply-and-Demand Forecasting
Developed modeling and scenario-planning tools that were used to project occupancy/lease rates, home demand and pricing, and market rebound predictors. Managed ongoing re-calibration of 7-year statistical forecasting model that performed to within 2.5% of actual results.
Investment Performance Analysis
Created a system for measuring historical and pro forma returns on gross book investment (GBI), current value, and internal rates of return (IRR), with tools for reviewing performance across multiple criteria.
Office Development/Leasing Business Planning
Created a forecasting tool with menu-based report-generation and analysis tools that accelerated and improved the accuracy of current and historical reporting and forecasting.
Home Buyer Survey Development
Designed SQL database to enable reporting of a nation wide home buyer survey. Survey consisted of over 90 questions (yes/no, multiple choice, multiple answsers, ranking questions) with over 22,000 responses. Reports were required to be delivered in Microsoft Excel® format with the options to be able to query for any metro, zip code/multiple zip codes, builder and many other variables.
Enhanced Reporting for Sales, Marketing and Operations
Sample projects include:
- Utility energy monitoring/reporting: Helped develop back-end, Excel-based reporting tools for monitoring and analyzing the success of a new two-way, IP-based networking communication infrastructure for Smart Grid deployment.
- Land inventory reporting: Created multi-database, geo-coded system with visual representations of land-use type, value, status and plans.
- Retail center lease marketing tool: Used a GIS reporting system that provided lease prospects with a detailed visual representation of key demographic information near selected retail centers. The retail trade areas could be defined by an example drawn on a map, streets, radius in miles or minutes of estimated drive time.
Sample projects include:
- Residential new home sales/closings reporting: replaced manual reporting with fully automated, web-based database that cut 12 hours/week of data entry, improved report accuracy, and simplified access to detailed transaction history.
- Employment tracking and reporting: simplified task of gathering, consolidating and reporting employment data in selected markets, replacing a week of manual entry with a 15-minute, fully automated push-button process.
- Residential pricing: home re-sale tracking system replaced 6 hours of manual work with push-button process. Automatically queried MLS database, created summary by product and pricing, and geo-coded information for easy visualization.
- Contact/Property Database cleanup - implementation: a system implementation for consolidating dozens of databases spanning hundreds of thousands of contacts, making it easier for property management firm to identify lease candidates and available properties.
- Financial Monthly Operating Reports: wrote a financial reporting system moving the data from Microsoft Excel into Microsoft SQL Server. Wrote the balance sheet and income statement reports using SSRS.
- Renters Insurance Billing: Wrote interface to import external excel data into a centralized database. Used Excel to write monthly invoices that would create the invoice, send to PDF and attache to an email to send to client, and creating an accounts receivable entry to track receivables.
No one can see around corners. But just like professional race car drivers who know how to hit the apex of each curve, businesses can get through each turn more quickly and accurately if they have the information they need to achieve the straightest line and maximum speed to their objectives.
Harvesting this information from business and financial data systems can be extremely challenging for organizations of all sizes. Too often, small business owners who can’t afford a large IT staff are stuck with solutions that solve only a portion of their unique challenges. Larger companies face similar challenges, since IT teams often don’t know any more about complex business challenges than business teams know about sophisticated software capabilities. The result is far too much manual entry, redundant and/or disconnected data sets, incomplete information, and missed opportunities to optimize data performance across the full range of forecasting, reporting, analysis and other critical business operations.
Rick Fromm, Principal
Rick founded APEX Data Consulting in 2011 after 35 years with organizations including The Irvine Company and Flour Corporation, where he helped business teams get more out of their data while significantly enhancing planning, reporting and other business system efficiency. With his unique blend of background in finance, accounting, business operations, IT management, system definition and deployment, and data-mining creativity, he has implemented a number of time- and money-saving initiatives for companies in a variety of industries including energy, construction, land development, and real estate sales, investment and management.
Gary Fromm, Energy Consultant
With over 40 years of experience in the electric utility industry, Gary was responsible for implementing the smart metering system for Modesto Irrigation District (MID). While he was with MID, he also developed and implemented a proven method for finding load diversions and other connection problems that are exposed through an analysis of low-voltage anomalies. Gary has spoken at numerous conferences on the topic of voltage analytics to find fraud and improve grid safety, and was the Western State Utility Theft Association (WSUTA) Revenue Protection Professional of the Year in 2014.