Friday, May 30, 2008

Handheld PDAs and Mobile Inspection Software for Electrical Utilities

Sho-Me Power owns 1,663 miles of transmission line, and is responsible for inspection and maintenance of the transmission line. Sho-Me power works directly with power suppliers to help transmit power to rural areas. Sho-Me Power provides services for 131 customer delivery points in 125 distribution and transmission substations.

Sho-Me Power used paper forms to perform inspections of transmission lines in rural areas, which resulted in many challenges. Inspections were performed twice per year, once in the fall and again in the spring, transmission line poles and pole attachments were inspected for damage. Areas surrounding the transmission line were also inspected for overgrown trees and undergrowth to determine trimming needs if necessary. Many inspections were done during poor weather conditions which made it difficult to collect data, juggle necessary paperwork, and caused lost or smudged paperwork because of weather conditions. The paper forms were also time consuming to fill out, hard to collect from the field inspectors (as forms were often lost or misplaced), and required office personnel to re-enter data at the home office.

It took a long time to fill out all of the paperwork in the field, and we ended up with so much paper that it was almost impossible to use all of the information we spent so much time collecting,” said Andy Meyers, GIS administrator at Sho-Me Power. “We knew we needed a better system for collecting and organizing our data.”

MobileDataforce worked closely with Sho-Me Power to integrate all necessary field inspection forms into one enterprise class mobility software application for handheld PDAs. The application allowed the field inspectors to sort inspections by region, completed structures, and uncompleted structures. All inspections were time stamped to keep record of when the inspection was completed, which allowed for Sho-Me Power to provide proof of inspection and track results for future inspections. The data collected was integrated into small world GIS.

Sho-Me Power selected a Trimble Recon handheld device, equipped with a GPS receiver for data collection. The mobile application utilized the GPS receivers to specifically identify the location of utility poles. This gave Sho-Me Power greater asset visibility, and made it easier for field inspectors to locate transmission poles in rural areas.

By using a mobile application rather than paper forms, Sho-Me Power was able to:

· Save administrative data entry time
· Increase asset visibility
· Wirelessly synchronize from the field
· Save fuel costs and driving time delivering paper forms
· Provide near real-time visibility to inspections in the field
· Ensure data accuracy through the use of data validation features
· Save inspection time with easy to use software

The PointSync Mobility Platform is an enterprise class mobile software platform used to rapidly design, develop, and deploy 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.

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

Conclusion:
Through the use of the PointSync mobility platform Sho-Me Power was able to save time and money. Sho-Me Power was also able to gain greater visibility of assets and inspection points, and track them by GPS location.

This system is saving us at every step in the process. We’re saving time in the field collecting information and just as much time back in the office processing it,” Meyers said. “The hours we used to spend collating paper alone is a huge savings to us, and time that can now be spent on other, more productive work.”

MobileDataforce has assisted many organizations around the world design, develop, and deploy mobile applications for field data collection. For additional information please visit our website at http://www.mobiledataforce.com/