“In an LV (low voltage) case, there is nothing to do from the control room,” confirms Teemu Suvela, Operations Engineer at Elenia. And truly, the operators in the Elenia control room can take it easy at daytime, as the contractors handle the LV outages from start to finish, independently. “We only alarm the contractor to go to the fault location and repair the fault,” Teemu explains. There is also less and less need for phone calls, as the mobile solution Utility To Go allows for the field crews to see the needed information directly in the field, and the well-integrated smart services tackle 98% (!) of the potential customer phone calls, ensuring that the utility offers excellent customer service via multiple channels with transparent outage information. Highly beneficially, the smart systems have also allowed for the utility to fine-tune its cooperation with the contractors, resulting in very effective and straightforward processes.
“There is a lot of complexity in network design and in how to present large amounts of data to the user in a way that supports their decision-making. It’s a good challenge,” reflects Jan Rondeel, the CIO of Skagerak Nett, which is a part of Skagerak Energi in Norway.
“If done well, an efficient and accurately informed vegetation management program can save a utility a large amount of money and improve network reliability through more accurately identified true vegetation hazards and reduced numbers, if any, of false vegetation hazards,” explains Sophie Davison, Vegetation Products Manager at NM Group in UK. On the contrary, the consequences of poor vegetation management can get costly. Sophie continues: “Inefficiency or using inaccurate data can lead to outages, regulatory fines, increased management costs and, in the worst cases, vegetation related fires and associated lawsuits.”
Especially with the mobile solutions becoming more and more popular for field work where the working conditions can be extreme and unhandiness soon leads to linemen returning to the pen and paper, ensuring the tools and devices are easy-to-use and support the user workflows is more important than ever. For that, user experience specialists play a very important role in designing the solutions to fit their purpose - work that goes way beyond the user interface.
Typically, that would highlight the consultation services, sales, and the help desk, but with my background in the product development, I can’t help but blend these customer comments with some of my memories with the developers. Looking back at my past - I wrote our user guides for over 10 years - the spirit of how we do things certainly molded me into looking at every piece of software not from the feature point of view, but from the angle of helping utilities to get their job done easily. And if I ever did ask for a review on a manual piece that was neglecting that viewpoint, I was sure to get feedback.
Insights into the software development for electricity distribution in the form of interviews with the most inspiring industry experts.