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Work order system for effective rollout of AMS

Posted by Espen Davidsen Oct 7, 2015 8:00:00 AM

You've got a radio plan all worked out. Now it's time for execution. A large number of old power meters are going to be replaced by new smart meters. This blog post will describe some of the many parameters to consider when choosing a work order system for effective rollout of AMS or smart grid.

Input to work order system

In addition to the radio plan, input from booking, logistics and other plans are important input for the work order system.

Example workflow

The radio plan is based on structure data (meter points and infrastructure) from the DSO (Distribution System Operator) and hardware properties from the meter and radio suppliers. The radio plan provides input on the preferred order of installation and details about preferred antenna type and radio configuration.

> Read also: The best way to plan rf mesh networks.

The booking information provides input about the available timeslots for access to the different sites. It's a waste of time to send a field worker to swap a meter if access to the building is unavailable. If bookings are cancelled or changed it needs to be handled in near real-time in order to utilize the field worker resources in an optimal way.

Each work order need to have detailed lists of equipment to be installed at each site. Based on the radio configuration from the radio plan, the logistics must make sure that the correct equipment is available to the field worker for the planned tasks. The work orders and equipment logistics should be planned for a minimum of 2-3 days at a time. This gives the field worker some flexibility to react to smaller changes in the planned order without having to restock the service van.

The work order system is central in order to assign work orders containing the correct task details to the right field worker at the right time. The work order system should be able to assign tasks to a mobile work order platform.

Workflow management, planning and monitoring

For effective rollout management the work order system must handle all this input and be able to visualize and divide the information up into manageable pieces of information. First, it's a good idea to divide the task into smaller parts. Divide your rollout period into phases, and divide the rollout area into subareas. The subareas can be defined by area code, by road axis or by net station circuit.


Resource planning

In order to assign work orders the field worker resources must be defined. In many cases the resources are split into two or more teams. If shift work is required the shift work periods need to be defined in order to assign tasks to the active teams. If different teams have special expertise or competency levels this needs to be taken into account when assigning tasks. In some cases, each team is responsible for one or more subareas. Teams or single resources might be contracted from one or more entrepreneurs and must be handled as well.

Assigning work orders

Once your plans and resources are defined and ready you can start to assign work orders. The work orders should be dispatched to the field workers and to logistics so that all the required equipment is ready to be loaded into the service van and the work can start.

The assigned work orders must be clearly marked as dispatched and the progress should be followed closely by the organizers.

Viewing work orders

It's important for the field workers to have access to the required information about each site and about the task to be carried out at each site. Detailed task description, documentation, drawings and other useful information should be easily accessible on a smart phone or tablet.
It's important to be able to view not only the active task, but also upcoming tasks. In some cases the task is taking longer than planned, and actions, re-planning or re-prioritization might be necessary.

Example Mobile Work order

Depending on the defined process some changes can be handled locally by the field worker himself. Other changes need to be managed by the organizers. In any case it's important to be able to report deviations and to be able to see changes to the active work orders.If the tasks go smoothly and the field worker has spare time towards the end of the day or between tasks a separate task list with “open and unassigned” tasks can be used as a picklist.
Monitoring and tracking

As soon as the first work orders have been assigned and the field workers have loaded their service trucks the work order system needs to monitor the progress of the rollout and to handle any deviation in real-time.

By monitoring progress, the planners and management can compare the ongoing activities with the plan. Since the plan is carefully set up and continuously being kept up to date using the work order system, any deviations should be easy to detect in the monitoring dashboard. Timely information about deviations and information about the available alternatives will allow the managers to make good real-time decisions.

If required and allowed, tracking can be used to view the real-time movements of the field workers as they progress out in the field. Tracking is typically enabled by the field worker if he's working alone and is performing tasks that can be somewhat risky.


Rollout management

The work order system is the hub of the actual installation, i.e. the execution of the radio plan. All involved parties get and deliver vital information here, and project executives have full control of the progress. Make sure you have a work order system that is fit for the tasks ahead.

Download E-book: Planning Radio Networks for SmartGrid

Topics: CARMEN

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By: Espen Davidsen

Espen Davidsen is a computer systems professional with more than 15 years of experience with communication systems and distributed information systems. He is currently director of Telecom and Utilities at Teleplan Globe.

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