Today, utilities already use a variety of mobile solutions for various activities, like work order management, filling in data such as meter identification at a changeout, work hour reporting, safety and quality reporting, and even managing the surveillance cameras at substations. On top of those, there are the services for the utility customers, for example, for checking their consumption data or reporting an outage. Also - and quite importantly - many of our customers have their field crews bring the network to the field in tablets or smartphones with Utility To Go, using it, for example, in network planning, maintenance including component inspections, and operations both by in-house technicians and contractors.
“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.”
When thinking about the different ways of doing maintenance, we often consider either taking a time-based approach, or taking the focus only on the condition of our assets. But what role does criticality play in the decision-making? How well are we able prioritize keeping the supply to a, say, hospital in the best possible condition?
Teemu Heusala, product manager at Trimble Energy, has put a lot of thought into the maintenance processes, studying the current workflows at utilities and discovering ways to streamline them. “The problem with the traditional maintenance planning is,” Teemu explains, “that even though the foreman tries to optimize the field work efficiency, he or she doesn’t have all the information that is available in the field.” There might be field groups on different assignments at locations where there are also maintenance needs, or, at worst, a field crew is assigned a maintenance task only to realize they were just there. This causes idle driving, which, as we all know, gets expensive.
There is no point in fixing bits and pieces, when it’s the big picture that matters. Benoit Mallen, business area director at Trimble Energy North America, is driven by helping utilities transform their overall business functions to be more effective, whether that be about software or internal processes, staking or outage management, investments or maintenance - it all counts.
Insights to the software development for electricity distribution in the form of interviews with the most inspiring of industry experts.
A Trimblean for 10+ years with a never-ending hunger for knowledge from a less technical viewpoint to the most technical of matters.