GIS Improves Network Data Management and Field Operations
South Jersey Industries (SJI) traces its roots back to 1910, when Atlantic City Gas and Water Company merged with Atlantic City Gas Company. Today SJI has 1,100 employees and delivers natural gas to over 700,000 customers across three utilities. SJI is a union of South Jersey Gas, which has 400,000 customers, and two recent acquisitions: Elizabethtown Gas, with about 300,000 customers, and Elkton Gas, with about 6,000 customers.
To meet the business and regulatory needs ahead, SJI needed 38 next generation enterprise systems to be implemented across the newly unified utilities. Among these systems is a geographic information system (GIS), and SJI selected Esri's ArcGIS Enterprise platform. Esri partner Critigen was selected to implement the new GIS, including ArcGIS Utility Network, the Utility and Pipeline Data Model (UPDM), and mobile field operations applications. SJI is leveraging these cutting-edge technologies to streamline leak management in the field, automate business processes, and simplify SJI's enterprise architecture.
SJI delivers natural gas through three utilities that cover 4,000 square miles of a noncontinuous service territory in New Jersey and in Elkton, Maryland. Between South Jersey Gas and Elizabethtown Gas, SJI delivers natural gas to 14 out of the 21 counties in New Jersey, while Elkton Gas serves Cecil County, Maryland. In 2018, with the acquisition of Elizabethtown Gas (along with Elkton Gas, located in Maryland) from Southern Company, SJI became the second-largest natural gas provider in New Jersey.
Prior to the acquisition, GIS support had been outsourced by South Jersey Gas, with limited company knowledge of its potential. With Elizabethtown Gas already using GIS daily to manage the utility's assets, SJI realized that in order to get set up for the future, GIS first needed to be brought in-house, as an enterprise-level application.
The discovery phase of the acquisition had revealed a mix of legacy enterprise systems. SJI was getting only the data—not the systems—for the newly acquired utilities. SJI decided that operating with a mix of the different enterprise systems in different parts of the company would not allow it to meet the business and regulatory challenges ahead. These challenges included increased requirements for regulatory compliance and heightened expectations for safe and efficient operations.
All systems went live on March 16, 2020, during the first days of stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Industry—Electric & Gas
SJI (NYSE: SJI), based in Folsom, New Jersey, delivers energy services to its customers through three primary subsidiaries listed below. SJI Utilities, SJI's regulated natural gas utility business, delivers safe, reliable, affordable natural gas to approximately 700,000 customers in New Jersey and Maryland. SJI's nonutility businesses promote renewable energy by providing customized wholesale commodity marketing and fuel management services, and by developing, owning, and operating on-site energy production facilities.
Elizabethtown Gas delivers natural gas to seven counties in northern New Jersey. The utility is headquartered in Union, New Jersey.
Elkton Gas serves customers in Cecil County, Maryland, and is headquartered in Elkton, Maryland.
South Jersey Gas delivers natural gas to customers in the seven southernmost counties of New Jersey. The utility is headquartered in Atlantic City.
SJI's newly acquired utilities had diverse enterprise systems. This complicated the company's ability to meet future business needs and regulatory requirements.
SJI selected Esri's ArcGIS platform as its new GIS and selected Esri partner Critigen to implement it.
The new GIS is streamlining leak management in the field, automating business processes, and simplifying the company's enterprise architecture.
SJI decided that one GIS would be used by the entire company and selected Esri's ArcGIS platform. Critigen implemented the GIS. Among the platform capabilities implemented were ArcGIS Utility Network; UPDM; ArcGIS Monitor; and mobile solutions using the out-of-the-box ArcGIS Collector, ArcGIS Workforce, and ArcGIS Explorer applications.
Moving to Utility Network allowed SJI to consolidate its assets into a single authoritative system of record. Previously, asset data was managed through multiple applications including GIS and several asset tracking databases. In some cases, the same asset was represented differently in each system. Leak information, which was once tracked only in GIS, was also being managed in a separate, nonspatial database. Migrating this information to an enterprise geodatabase and consolidating it provided SJI with a single source of truth, which was, in turn, integrated with other enterprise systems such as IBM Maximo.
Utility Network provided an enhanced capability to manage and visualize assets. Service tap features were linked with meter settings to provide a virtual connection that can be represented visually on the map. This connection is currently useful in the office and the field, since SJI has not yet completed mapping its service lines.
Collector and Workforce were key to reenvisioning leak management and other field processes. Being able to assign work orders to individuals using the out-of-the-box web applications' functionality—along with Workforce and its ability to track the current and historical locations of workers—was key in moving toward using Collector for leak surveys. Using attribute rules for data integration and Python scripting for the life cycle of work orders, the process has been streamlined. The leak survey process was directly integrated with the company's IBM Maximo enterprise asset management software. Field crews then were able to visualize gas assets and leak locations and perform their surveys by using Collector. The reenvisioned process enabled supervisors to visually track field crews' progress and provide more accurate and intuitive reporting.
Implementation of the ArcGIS platform enabled SJI to reenvision its business processes. Built using Web GIS technology, ArcGIS—in one integrated platform—provides all users at each gas utility with the data management and analytics capabilities they need. ArcGIS also provides sharing and collaboration capabilities to enable new ways of working.
The new leak survey process proved to be an improvement for field crews, supervisors, and managers. Crews were able to effectively manage their daily activities. Supervisors could assign work. Managers could better track work progress through dashboards and map-based visualizations daily. Integration of the leak survey process with IBM Maximo enabled centralized management and proved to be superior to separate homegrown systems for leak management.
Critigen is an Esri Platinum partner and holds the distinction of successfully going live with the first two large gas enterprise utility network projects. Critigen is a full-stack spatial technology integrator, driving business performance through geospatial IT solutions and services. Critigen helps clients make spatial technologies work in organizations of all sizes, integrates spatial technologies with enterprise systems, and enables field users with mobile spatial solutions.