Operational Efficiencies Flow Fast for NT Water
With Power and Water Corporation's bottom line affected by a network of aging water meters, the utility embarked on a water meter replacement program.
An advanced location-based analytics solution was used to increase efficiencies during the project by streamlining how information was being captured and communicated.
With the solution deployed on iPads, staff and contractors were able to efficiently collect and update information in the field and upload it to an operations center in near real time. The data was fed into and displayed on an operations dashboard that allowed management to track the project's status.
Near real-time data and its increased reliability and accuracy resulted in reduced duplication of efforts, amplifying gains in efficiency.
Ultimately, the rate at which meters could be replaced was increased by up to 70 percent—a compelling result from a solution that took just two weeks to deploy.
Power and Water Corporation in focus
Power and Water Corporation is a Northern Territory Government-owned corporation in Australia and the territory's premier provider of electricity distribution and water and sewerage services.
The corporation is responsible for providing water, sewerage, and electricity services across an area of more than 1.3 million square kilometers.
The corporation's network is located in a tough environment with extremes in weather and climate, and the utility faces ongoing challenges to get services "on the ground" where it is required to meet current and future demands.
As a government-owned corporation, Power and Water is mandated to operate at least as efficiently as any comparable business and to maximize the territory's sustainable return on investment (ROI).
We're seeing significant efficiency gains because the technology speeds up practically every step of the project, from providing the fastest route to the meter to being able to review the work remotely just minutes after it's finished.
Each day that Power and Water Corporation's aging network of meters remained untouched, revenue was flowing away from the business. In one case, an older meter that was recording US$7 of usage a day began recording around US60 of usage a day after it was replaced. Other meters had failed completely and recorded nil usage when water was being used.
To address this, the water meter replacement program was undertaken to check and replace commercial client meters.
The project required contractors to attend meters in the field and gather information about their condition. If meters required replacement, data about the new meter was also recorded. The data was then collated at a central base, where the project manager used it to coordinate the rollout and identify any data gaps.
In the past, data was collected manually using printed spreadsheets that were filled in by hand on-site and carried back to a central office, where the information was then typed into a central database.
This workflow often resulted in duplicated handling of information, the need for return visits, monthlong delays in data being returned and entered into the system, loss of data, and the mismatching of data to assets. These factors led to significant delays in replacing aging meters, which in turn increased the utility's costs.
Power and Water Corporation understood the need to reinvent its data collection processes but wanted to successfully undertake a trial geographic information system (GIS) technology solution and build a business case for a full-scale, location-based analytics implementation.
Power and Water Corporation
- Collector for ArcGIS
- Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS
- ArcGIS Online
- ArcGIS Desktop
Power and Water Corporation implemented an advanced location-based analytics solution for the project, which enabled it to collect, disseminate, and analyze the replacement program's data.
This commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) solution sped up every stage of the project, from providing the fastest route to the meter to facilitating reviews of the work remotely just minutes after it was completed.
Staff and contractors used iPads with a user-friendly application that enabled them to capture date- and location-stamped images of the work as it was undertaken and to link comments about infrastructure, access, and other vital observations, including customer feedback about the process.
Prior to the commencement of the work, records of existing meters were populated into the system so that details, such as the locations of the meters, were checked on-site and any discrepancies immediately identified and corrected.
The data was then uploaded in near real time to the operations center so that office-based teams could work with it immediately. In particular, the project manager—who viewed the entire project's progress via a map-based dashboard—was able to identify any issues and act swiftly, rather than having to wait for paper documents to be manually returned and entered into the system.
Should there be any future incidents with the meters, asset data can now be instantly accessed, enabling many issues to be resolved from the office instead of requiring a visit to the site by a contractor.
The deployment of the solution took just two weeks—and its rapid adoption across the enterprise meant that Power and Water Corporation saw an immediate return on investment. This was particularly evident in the replacement of assets, where the revenue per meter jumped from $7 to $60 a day.
The solution provides all stakeholders across the organization with quick and easy access to quality data and a real-time view of operations.
Seamless, secure access for contractors
Contractors have secure access to the app and are able to log updates to the central system in near real time. Security parameters give Power and Water Corporation the confidence to allow contractors to access and use the app out in the field.
GIS technologies enable utilities to collect, disseminate, and analyze their data to ensure that they are operating in the most efficient way possible.
Efficiency gains of up to 70 per cent: Broad gains were experienced across the workflow, enabling the project to be completed much more quickly than expected. In some cases, the three months it formerly took to log data was reduced to mere minutes. Additionally, while 20–30 meters were projected to be replaced each day, in practice there was an average daily replacement of 40–50.
Strengthened data integrity: As a single point of truth, the solution strengthened Power and Water Corporation's data integrity by providing a streamlined data collection process that removed the risks of misallocated data, data loss, and duplicated data.
Easy information access: The system's user-friendly interface allowed the project manager and staff to make confident and timely decisions about the rollout, instantly visualize data gaps, and rapidly access and analyze information pertaining to physical infrastructure and environmental assets by simply clicking their location on a map.
Expansion across the business: The success of the trial has meant that the technology will now be expanded for a new and much larger project. Based on the results and the ROI generated, the executive management team has approved the expansion of location-based analytics to the existing retail management system. It is also being considered for use in the strategic analysis of expansion and asset management plans in the future.