The story begins with PEC’s need to quickly to deploy an outage management system that they could rely on. “We did an extensive evaluation of some other solutions and we chose Trimble both because of the familiarity - we've been a Trimble customer for a long time - and also because it had capabilities that the other solutions did not and that weighed heavily in our decision,” Lawanda describes.
The DMS was implemented by coupling it together with PEC’s existing GIS system, and what was planned to be a one-year-project was successfully completed in less than 4 months. “The 14 weeks was something that I have not experienced from an implementation project before, where it was that smooth. The execution was just phenomenal,” Lawanda remembers back. “It really felt like one team. The Trimble and PEC teams worked very closely together to make that happen.” The success was followed by a second deployment project for a Trimble system of record for staking and design processes, tied in with inventory for achieving accurate maps - a project that is now coming to its completion. The great collaboration between PEC and Trimble has remained strong.
Interview: One of the best deployment stories
“We are happy with our choice to go with Trimble,” smiles Lawanda. The deployments have been beneficial to PEC on various levels, and Lawanda and Paul describe a holistic view to the benefits, highlighting, for example, general operational efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction. They all have to do with both network reliability, as well as map accuracy, which, in turn, ties back to the efficiency in the field and shorter outage times.
“As far as the member perception, we are now able to be more responsive,” Lawanda starts, mentioning the Trimble Outage Map as one example. “On the map, our members can visually see the outage status, whether there’s a truck on its way to the location, as well as the estimated time to restore.” This is a level of communication that PEC customers had been asking for for years and that, thanks to the new solution, PEC now has the ability to provide. In addition, there is a new possibility to report outages from mobile devices. “That has been a big, big win for our members, and also for our communications team,” Lawanda explains, since making use of the online communication reduces the need for, for example, phone calls.
Lawanda continues: “In order to be more responsive, you need to know where your assets are - where is that transformer or where is that pole - and be able to actually map that.” Paul explains that PEC did a system inventory, the results of which are coming out in the next phase of the project. “We will have not only all the pole numbers and equipment numbers, but also the GPS locations of all of our assets in the system,” Paul specifies. “Before, we didn't have real accurate locations of all of our assets, and having that is going to help tremendously in the future.” The reliable maps will also help reduce contractor time, as field crews no longer be sent out in the field looking at a map and discovering it wasn’t accurate. Paul adds: “We will also get some future benefits out of this that we haven't seen yet.”
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
“The benefits are both internal and external,” Lawanda draws up. “All of this leads to better response time to the members and better reliability, because if you know where that feeder is and where that outage occurs, you can actually send a crew there quicker.” Instead of having them trace all the way through a two mile span, the crews know exactly where the outage is.
Lawanda prefers to take a holistic approach to the big picture. “There's a mesh of things that leads to better productivity, higher customer satisfaction, better reliability of our critical enterprise system, reduced cost per meter and better SAIDI (System Average Interruption Duration Index) numbers - all of these things are connected, whether that be the outage management, accuracy of the maps, and so on. There are a lot of business goals around these topics and when you look beneath them, that's when you start looking at having to do the work that we are doing now with Trimble.”
Starting from an outage management deployment and growing into so much more, all I’ve heard from our Trimble team is how great PEC has been to work with - and we all look forward to so many shared development projects to come!
You may also like:
Insights into the software development for electricity distribution in the form of interviews with the most inspiring industry experts.