Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mobile Handheld PDA Case Study: Utility Inspections, GPS and Field Data Collection



Company Overview:

LYNN-EDWARD Professional Services, Inc. (LEPService) delivers a full range of metering, SCADA and communications services to the utility industry. Based in Covington, Georgia, LEPService has served the utility industry throughout the Southeast since 1990, and is rapidly expanding into other geographic regions.

Research Challenge:

LEPService needed a mobile software solution that could efficiently track the installation and service of load management devices. The mobile software solution would enable the utilization of GIS mapping to effectively identify switch locations. A key requirement of the project was that it be designed modularly so that additional utility inspections could be added at a future date to cover their vast service offerings.

MobileDataforce Solution:

The initial mobile handheld software application developed for LEPService was for the tracking of load management devices. The application was initially designed to work on the Itronix Tablet PC running Windows Tablet PC Edition. The Tablet PC device was chosen over a rugged handheld computer to work with Delorme’s XMAP 4.5 GIS mapping software which required larger screen dimensions for GIS maps. Additional applications were developed that did not require GIS mapping, which made the less expensive and more compact Symbol MC70 PDA a better fit.

The professional services team at MobileDataforce developed a mobile software solution that combined the strengths of Delorme XMAP mapping features with PointSync’s mobile data collection features. The mobile solution leverages Delorme’s XMAP mapping features to allow a technician to search for locations based on Atlas Page, Grid, Street Name and Account Number. The PointSync Mobile application was designed to capture and view all inspection data related to utility load management switches and equipment at those specific locations including GPS data.

By using mobile software applications rather than paper forms, LEPService was able to:

Collect field data electronically
Synchronize the data directly from the Tablet PC and handheld devices to a central database
Reduce data entry time
Verify GPS data in both the PointSync and Delorme Systems
Ensure data accuracy through the use of data validation features in PointSync
Provide a foundation to add additional mobile inspection applications

By selecting MobileDataforce’s PointSync Mobility Platform and professional services, LEPService obtained a powerful and flexible enterprise quality mobility platform. They also were provided a team of experienced mobility experts to create and support their software application. MobileDataforce enabled LEPService to build upon their first mobile application using PointSync development tools and extend the capabilities of the application over time to include many new features.

“MobileDataforce has been spectacular to work with” said Mike Aiello Jr. President of LEPService. “PointSync has enabled our company to truly offer a superior product and improve our field service inspection services to our customers”. He further added, “The exceptional reliability and stability of PointSync Server platform has been exceptional. In over two years of full deployment, we have not had a single lost day of productivity due to software systems related issues. There have literally been none.”

About PointSync Mobility Platform:

PointSync Mobility Platform is an enterprise class mobile software platform used to rapidly design, develop, and deploy critical business mobile applications. It is architected to provide database centric mobile applications with bi-directional synchronization, connectivity, security, and enterprise database integration all within one product suite.

About MobileDataforce:

MobileDataforce is a global leader in the development of enterprise class and business critical software solutions for use on mobile handheld computers including Smart Phones, Tablet PCs, PDAs, and laptops. MobileDataforce has offices in Europe, North America, and Australia to support their ever expanding customer base and sales channels. Privately held, MobileDataforce has been mobilizing business solutions since 2000.

Conclusion:

LEPService was able to combine the strengths of two software programs, Delorme and PointSync, to more effectively inspect and service utility switches for their clients. MobileDataforce built a mobile solution that met the current inspections needs of LEPService’s clients while providing a foundation to develop and extend additional mobile inspection components in the future. The stability of the system has allowed for rapid deployment and growth of LEPService service offerings.

MobileDataforce assists organizations around the world in mobilizing business and field data collection processes. For additional information please visit our website at: http://www.mobiledataforce.com/.