Irish Utility Contractor Accomplishes Seemingly Impossible Task

Thousands of Utility Structures Damaged After Serious Irish Winter

After an exceptionally terrible winter, many of Ireland’s utility poles were left damaged in the wake. Given that the entire country relies heavily on the proper function and maintenance of these poles, it was necessary to have them patrolled, assessed, and repaired as quickly as possible. Four contractors were given equal share of the project to patrol, assess damage, collect information, perform repairs, and provide vital information back to the client.

Walking LinesEach of the participating companies was given 6 months to collect data pertaining to 30,000 assets strewn across the country, with an additional number of reserve poles saved for contractors that excelled in the project.

Paper-Based Data Collection Vs. Electronic Data Collection

Three of the four utility contractors followed a traditional, paper-based approach to data collection and submission. Each team would be given a piece of paper with the locations of the poles and individual task items outlining the data that needed to be recorded. An initial patrol would visit each site during a day, fill out the paper, and leave comments of any damage. They would then return to the office, where the data would be inputted into an excel spreadsheet and sent to other members of their team who would return to the field to repair the pole.

Collecting Data Without Leaving the Field

One contractor, TLI Group, had the good fortune of employing a consultant who had spent time in Canada, where he had worked with a company that used Arcsset, a mobile data collection solution that specializes in real-time, in-field data collection and reporting for the utilities. TLI worked with Arcsset, who converted the paper-based assessment forms into an electronic version of the forms that could be completed on-site from a mobile device.

A typical visit to a site for TLI would entail: inputting required data into the application, and deliver the information directly into the cloud and store it in a database for immediate retrieval. If repairs were required, the TLI controller would send a request for repairs from the field to other team members who would use the attached GPS coordinates to quickly find the pole. They could then send a notification that the work had been finished, complete with before-and-after photos, without leaving their location, thereby providing the client with immediate confirmation that the work had been done properly.

Benefits of Mobile Data Collection in the Field

The realized benefits that Arcsset provided include:

  • The elimination of the need to bring physical forms to the office, and allowed for 100% of the controllers’ and construction crew’s time to be in the field, expediting the project
  • Scanned GPS location that ensured a confirmation of accountability to the client that the TLI teams were in fact visiting the required sites
  • The immediate submission of information from the field including pictures of the damage and the work completed conveyed immediately to the client the work that had been done

The increase in productivity allowed TLI’s portion of the project to be completed substantially faster than had been originally anticipated by the client. This led TLI to capture the remainder of the withheld portion of the project, and confirmed to the client that their portion would be completed on time and on budget.

Not only did TLI perform at a high level and was awarded with extra work and more revenues, but their relationship with the client had been strengthened through increasing levels of trust by having complete transparency into the work that has been completed in the field.