Panasonic Australia and software specialist Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions have joined forces to deploy over 200 ruggedised Panasonic Toughbook CF-18 notebooks to ETSA Utilities (ETSA) field service crews, running Intergraph’s Outage and Mobile Workforce Management system and other workforce planning tools, as part of the utility’s critical Outage Management Project.
The Toughbooks, equipped with a sophisticated Outage and Workforce Management system called InService, developed by Intergraph, have been deployed to field personnel throughout South Australia, where they will be used to manage, log and track outage repairs and crew dispatch.
Toughbooks in Action ETSA Utilities deploys 200 Panasonic Toughbooks, as part of critical outage management project.
Toughbooks in Action ETSA Utilities is responsible for all aspects of the distribution of electricity in South Australia, and serves 771,000 customers, with a distribution network of 79,762 kilometres.
Responding to a directive from industry regulator, the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCoSA), ETSA undertook a project to review its outage management systems and processes, and optimise its crew dispatch capability, mobile tracking and outage reporting including reliability reporting on individual customers.
The Outage Management Project will ensure industry best practice for management of operational and customer data across the enterprise and in the field, helping ETSA to manage planned electrical work and unplanned outages quickly and efficiently, as well as track work crews performing routine maintenance.
The Panasonic Toughbooks will be used by ETSA to provide its field personnel with increased mobility, productivity and uptime in all environments and weather conditions. Each Toughbook has ruggedised features designed to prevent damage in harsh outdoor working environments, and has a swivel LCD design that converts from a notebook to a rugged touchscreen tablet PC.
The InService system works by sending an alert via CDMA, and in some cases via satellite, from ETSA’s network operations centre to the Toughbook, when a power outage occurs. The Intergraph solution displays a geographical map of the affected area, overlayed with ETSA’s electrical network infrastructure, including details of the current status of the network and information on each of the affected electrical assets.
As repairs are conducted, live updates are fed back to the ETSA network operations centre, keeping them updated on the progress of repairs and the crew’s location. As each job is completed, the crew receives new instructions from the network operations centre via the Toughbook.
The system is useful for ETSA, as it will allow ETSA to maximise the efficiency of its field crews. Crews can be divided up into areas of responsibility, with some dedicated to repairing outages, while some are engaged in ongoing construction and maintenance.
The field management system from ClickSoftware will analyse the crews in terms of their appropriate experience, proximity to the job and time available. A work order will be dispatched to the suitable crew out in the field via the mobile capabilities of the Toughbook.
Prior to selecting the Panasonic Toughbook and the Intergraph solution, ETSA conducted a selective tender process that involved two other tenderers, assessed against key selection criteria.
One major factor that set the Panasonic Toughbooks apart was a low total cost of ownership (TCO). Because the Toughbook is suitable for extreme weather outdoor use, it is far less susceptible to damage, resulting in a longer operational lifespan and a low TCO. The device ETSA chose had to be ruggedised and hard-wearing to withstand the work environment.
The crews work with thick gloves and greasy hands, not to mention that they are often placed in challenging environments such as atop power poles. Using the Intergraph system with the Panasonic Toughbook, ETSA will be able to improve outage management processes, crew dispatch capability, mobile tracking for 200 field units and customer outage reporting.