Software improves utility’s process for handling asset maintenance & fielding work orders
Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Loudoun Water provides drinking water and wastewater services to more than 80,000 households in Loudon County—one of the nation's fastest-growing counties. Loudoun Water maintains more than 1,200 miles of water distribution pipelines, more than 900 miles of wastewater collection system pipelines and a growing reclaimed non-potable water system. To keep pace with increasing demand, Loudoun Water decided to improve its process for handling asset maintenance and fielding service work orders.
Since implementing SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and its mapping technology, Geo.e, Loudoun Water has worked to deliver the benefits of an integrated geospatial solution to its more than 150 operations staff when they work in the field and facility. Finding an easy way for these workers to manage their daily workload while eliminating an inefficient and labor-intensive paper-based process was a challenge.
Loudoun Water determined that Trimble Unity’s mobile and geographic information system (GIS)-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform approach was the right solution to solve its immediate need for improving field operations and mobile work management. Trimble Unity met the requirements for an offline-capable, map-centric work-order management solution that integrates with the utility’s existing SAP ERP and Esri GIS systems, and runs on Windows 10 and iOS. Field staff liked that it put their work and the GIS together in a single user-friendly window; IT liked that it was cloud-hosted and leveraged existing SAP and Esri investments.
Loudoun Water’s project to roll out Trimble Unity was broken into two phases. The first was on a hard deadline and needed to be completed in time for the utility’s annual spring hydrant flushing program. A Trimble Unity app was configured and deployed to meet that schedule; it was used to generate more than 20,000 orders while tracking the work. Field technicians used a simple iPad app to spatially visualize hydrant flushing assignments, progress each through the configured workflow, capture all required information and track progress.
The second phase involved implementing multiple apps, each optimized to streamline a specific business process. These Trimble Unity apps—named “My Orders,” “Report It” and “Fix It”—include the capability to manage truck and crew assignments; manage and complete SAP-generated work orders and service orders; and create SAP notifications to report assets needing repair, record repairs, and track inventory, labor and material usage. For in-plant assets, Trimble Unity offers users multiple ways to access SAP functional locations and equipment, providing operators with the capability to browse and search the asset hierarchy when creating a work order or notification. It delivers full access to the assets shown in GIS, and for in-plant assets such as pumps and controls, operators can search or drill down the associated asset hierarchy to the object to record repairs or create notifications.
The deployment of Trimble Unity has eliminated labor-intensive, paper-based processes and provides Loudoun Water with an easy way for its more than 150 field staff to manage their daily workload. This digital workflow empowers end-users to record data directly in SAP and gives management real-time access to their results.
Utility work crews now benefit from having access to up-to-date GIS maps, SAP work orders and data on their iPads and Windows tablets in the field, with the ability to manage daily workloads and interact with their back-office SAP system through a simple, easy-to-use mobile application. And with Trimble Unity, Loudoun Water is able to leverage its existing investments in SAP and Esri GIS and extend technology to the field, all while using a cloud-hosted solution model that avoids the additional costs and resources required for operating traditional in-house IT infrastructure.