Using GIS to Streamline and Automate Asset Management

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Michael Boyd from Novotx writes about how Del-Co Water Company in Ohio uses GIS to to automate workflow processes and streamline operations.

Located in central Ohio, Del-Co Water Company has found success using GIS together with Elements XS3 to automate workflow processes and streamline operations.  Del-Co has been using Elements XS3 for customer service, work orders, and other maintenance activities since January of 2014.

During the initial procurement process, Del-Co was seeking a highly-configurable application that could be customized to match their unique operations while streamlining existing data collection and workflow processes.

Del-Co’s GIS Administrator, Mike Pritchard, GISP, describes the before and after:

“Prior to Elements, Del-Co heavily relied on several different sources to track their daily workflows and asset management. In addition to committing to Elements, Del-Co invested in developing a GIS to integrate with Elements and better track assets.

Prior to these applications, access to information related to the system existed in the former billing and work order management systems, access databases, paper records, employee memory, and other means of data storage and management.

With Elements and GIS, Del-Co has been able to achieve more centralized data management, work order completion, better streamlined work processes and better communication between departments. Having a companywide asset management system has greatly improved the day-to-day operations of all areas of the water management processes.”

In particular, Del-Co has found value in the unique Dynamic Data structure of Elements, which allows users to create unlimited custom fields and unlimited custom form layouts, then trigger custom events off of this data and access the information via any standard report designer.

Mike Pritchard, GISP, describes where Del-Co has found success:

“The dynamic data capabilities have greatly improved record keeping and reporting on assets. The customization of Elements is what makes the product so flexible to the organization and with the correct skill set, very enhanced.

Prior to GIS and Elements, tasks such as valve exercising, hydrant winterizing, hydrant painting, or subdivision plan review, were difficult to track with data stored in a variety of places.

The data was there but making use of it or correctly managing the programs was difficult to access and report on. For instance, selecting a group of valves to exercise and then managing the exercise tasks proved to be a challenge.

Now a user can select the valves on a GIS web map, have it generate the tasks, then use a GIS layer to manage the tasks. Also, cross department workflows such as tap installations were broken up by each departments data management methods and data was not always properly associated to the asset during the process.

With Elements and GIS workflows, the service orders are guided through the process even with multiple departments involved.”

Managing thousands of assets with GIS

“The integration of GIS and Elements has improved the management of GIS assets.

For instance Del-Co has over 15,000 water line valves on the distribution system. It is difficult to associate a valve with an address so the spatial component allows for these to be easily managed.

Screenshot showing Del Co Water's mapping application with parcels and water lines in blue on top of an aerial of a subdivision.
Screenshot showing Del Co Water’s mapping application.

The map has also improved production so a field worker can see his tasks for the day on the map and create a plan to effectively complete all tasks.

An example of this would be for a meter tech to complete double checks on misread meters as they will use the map to know where these occur based off tasks created in the office from the UMS utility billing software.”

Del-Co has also created their own custom workflows using the workflow designer applications included with the product.

“We have created some nice workflows that provide an easier, more efficient way to complete work. For instance, if we need to alert customers of a line break, customer contact information needs to be collected and sent to an IVR or create a mailing.

With the GIS, Elements, and our UMS utility billing software fully connected, a user can select a group of customers from the map and a workflow automatically generates this data from our billing system and produces the necessary document.

We have also taken it a step further when we have a system shutdown due to an event such as a leak – there is a workflow to generate a service order based off a point on the map. The information from this workflow is passed to another workflow to relate to the customer data to the original service order for the leak.”

Integrating with Neocortex Essentials

Del-Co also utilizes a seamless integration with Geocortex Essentials; meaning Elements can utilize the Geocortex Essentials engine 100% of the time for all mapping requirements.

The integration between these two applications has given Del-Co Water the ability to utilize the full power of the Geocortex Workflow Designer and HTML5 viewer technology to deploy tailored maps and simplify workflow processes for individual users and departments throughout the service area.

Screenshot of a mapping application with an aerial and a blue mesh overlay.

What’s Next? Del-Co plans to use the rating systems in Elements XS3 to score assets and expand the use of risk analysis tools in order to visualize potential problem areas and use preventive maintenance to address issues before they occur.

About Del-Co Water Company

Located in central Ohio, Del-Co Water is a privately-held public drinking water company with a service area that stretches into six counties.

As of 2015, Del-Co Water has successfully implemented the Elements XS3 asset and work management software across their utility services and maintenance. Currently they are utilizing Elements XS3 to connect all departments including Distribution, Metered Services, Engineering, Operations, Administration, Maintenance, and IT.

About Novotx

Located near Salt Lake City, Utah, Novotx develops, maintains, and implements the Elements XS3 application.  Novotx has been developing GIS-based asset and work management software since 2004 and has customers throughout the US and Canada.

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