Streamlined Meter Installation Workflow Improves Efficiency and Supports Outage Management
Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) provides electric, gas, water, wastewater, and telecommunications services to over 90,000 customers in northern Florida. The fifth-largest municipal utility in Florida, GRU makes Gainesville a better place to live, work and play.
GRU routinely installs electric meters at new service locations. The utility also replaces meters for maintenance and is implementing an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) upgrade project. These business processes include capturing critical information and updating numerous vital business systems. For example, matching the correct meter number to its spatial location, customer premises, and account is essential for accurate bills and responding to outages. Moreover, the Outage Management System (OMS) uses these meter data to correctly link customers to the GRU electric system and help speed service restoration.
Tracking and updating meter information was a complex process that took too long and was prone to potential errors. Previously, GRU staff used a smartphone app to determine the GPS coordinates of each installation and wrote the latitude and longitude on a paper form. An intern later transcribed the coordinates and meter numbers from paper to a spreadsheet on a shared drive. Next, a technician periodically pushed the spreadsheet to a database table and used ArcMap to relate the information to the existing infrastructure in GIS. The tabular information ultimately updated the ArcGIS system of record and consequently the OMS.
One of the utility’s core business values is efficiency. In support of this goal, GRU management determined to close the gaps in the meter removal and installation workflow, speed information updates, and avoid potential data errors in the manual process.
GRU configured ArcGIS Field Maps to aid their field staff in installing meters. The application shows field service technicians their current location on a map of the GRU system. Staff scan each meter’s barcode to identify it without writing any numbers on paper or transcribing them to spreadsheets. As meters are installed, ArcGIS Field Maps captures the GPS locations automatically. Photos are also readily captured within ArcGIS Field Maps and associated with the meters using the same device.
The meter information is transmitted in real-time, so the data is updated electronically and readily visible in the office as part of the ArcGIS Enterprise system.
The app marks exact locations, and captures photographs for meter installations.
Field staff immediately recognized the app reduced their workload and made them more productive. Handling the information electronically reduced the time required to update critical business systems saving many work hours per year. Furthermore, by removing manual steps in the workflow, accuracy was increased, and errors were reduced.
The improved workflow hastened updates to the OMS and increased its accuracy. In addition, improving the meter data workflow furthers GRU’s mission for safe and reliable services in tangible ways. Future work with ArcGIS Field Maps includes deploying AMI infrastructure, damage assessment following storm events, and complying with Federal Regulations for Gas infrastructure.