Editor's Letter: Mobile Workers Have a Wide Range of Technologies Helps Make Their Jobs Easier in the Field

Utility workers have many options when choosing the technology that will make their jobs easier and more productive. This issue of Utility Products brings you several feature articles that discuss new technologies for field use, as well as how to prepare for and deal with storm outages.

Utility workers have many options when choosing the technology that will make their jobs easier and more productive. This issue of Utility Products brings you several feature articles that discuss new technologies for field use, as well as how to prepare for and deal with storm outages.

“Utility Mobility 2.0: How to Better Capitalize on Workers’ Rugged Technology Tools,” by John Graff, addresses how mobile computers offer larger application potential beyond basic workflow mobilization. Graff outlines how mobile workers are rethinking ways to apply mobile technologies to most processes.

Bill Meehan’s article, “Steps to Operational Intelligence,” discusses how, as operations veterans retire, infrastructure companies such as utilities need a system that can assist newer employees. Meehan presents five steps to operational intelligence and how it can help fieldworkers and management improve their decision-making by giving a clearer picture of what is happening in their service territory.

“Using AMI Technology: Reducing Outage Response Time at Dickson Electric,” by Greg Myers, takes a look at how the utility pinpoints exact outage locations. Myers addresses how the utility overhauled its infrastructure with a fixed base advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) solution by replacing its electricity meters and investing in a two-way communication network to transmit data to headquarters.

Another informative feature article is “Before, During and After the Storm: Storm Impact Analytics,” by Don Leick. It is vital, Leick reports, for utilities to move beyond simply looking at a weather report to predict impact and turn weather forecasts into data that can be used to predict asset damage and improve operational efficiencies. The article addresses the aging infrastructure, smarter and harder-to-please customers, the importance of responding quickly, how utilities can be better prepared, and getting started.

This month’s issue also brings you a great lineup of product focus articles. “Proactive Outage Response, Without Waiting for OMS,” by Lily Ho, reviews the challenges current outage management systems (OMS) present and what can be done to pinpoint the extent and location of a power loss. With sensor technologies and data analytics advancements, utilities can augment their OMS capabilities with smart grid sensors and software-based fault detection solutions.

Henry Brozyna’s article, “Lever Strap Hoist: How to Properly Use and Inspect,” discusses how, when using a lever hoist, or any hoist, there are several basic guidelines to follow to ensure safe use. Brozyna outlines the importance of frequent and periodic inspections. Frequent inspections are pre-operational inspections and should include visual observations during regular service of the hoists. Periodic inspections are thorough, detailed inspections that may require complete disassembly of the hoist—and should be performed by an appointed person.

“An Affinity for Proper Connections: Ensuring Efficiency with Accurate Transformer and Phase Connectivity,” by Robert Sonderegger, outlines how patented algorithms, using machine learning techniques, can accurately determine meter phase connectivity and physical meter-to-transformer connectivity using voltage measurement from customers’ smart meters to determine an asset’s location.

And Don Woods’ article, “Avoid Big Problems with Big Data in Four Smart Steps,” outlines how to create a tactical plan for utility fleets to harness the power of big data: define clear business objectives; set realistic, achievable goals; generate clear and specific reasons why higher costs are occurring; and determine what will likely happen next.

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