BC Hydro Integrates ERP solutions with GIS

By Joe Francica

In many large utilities, spatial information is utilized in a variety of ways, and usually embedded within enterprise systems for scheduling, transmission and distribution, supply chain management, or work order management.One such supplier of integrated solutions is Indus International, a company of 650 employees headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. They recently deployed their solution to BC Hydro, one of the largest electric utilities in Canada, serving more than 1.5 million customers, in conjunction with a scheduling and crew optimization system from ClickSoftware (Burlington, MA).BC Hydro also uses an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system from PeopleSoft and will implement a customer information system (CIS) from SAP later in 2003.

The focus of this article is to provide a case study, through a question and answer format, of how the applications fit together and the workflow between each.

For some background on Indus International, Directions Magazine contacted Terry Maxey, VP of Product Management at Indus for additional information:

1.What is Indus International's primary solution and expertise?

Until 1995, our Work Management product focused on Generation functionality for utilities; however, it was becoming apparent that, as a result of deregulation and other factors, most utilities needed to extend their work processes to distributing energy and providing other services to customers.In particular, one of our customers, PECO, desired this functionality to help increase their electric delivery reliability and increase their competitive position in the marketplace.PECO's Transmission and Distribution (T&D) business unit management realized that the Indus PassPort's existing Work Management functionality could be extended to provide a solid framework for enhancements, and a PECO/Indus partnership would have the business experience to develop the "next wave" of Work Management products, while meeting PECO's specific functionality requirements within a fully integrated product suite.
2.What was the result of customizing this solution for PECO?
The interaction between Indus and PECO essentially drove the success of this project. In October 1996, work was completed on a set of Work Management T&D functionality. PECO users were thrilled with the new functionality of this product, and PECO management appreciated the enhanced productivity of their employees. PECO issued a press release in January 1997, stating that its customers experienced the best service reliability in 10 years. PECO attributed the improvement in its electric reliability to several factors, particularly the recent implementation of the company's comprehensive predictive and preventive maintenance program for its local distribution system and investments in new technology.
3.Did Indus decide to develop an integrated suite of products because of this initiative?
Since 1997, Indus has invested millions of dollars to enhance our Energy Delivery offering, and we now offer a comprehensive solution for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of Energy Delivery networks. In 2000, we released the first of our "vision products," a set of state-of-the-art tools that transformed PassPort into an end-to-end solution for the Energy Delivery industry. These products include:
  • IndusAnyWare (mobile computing)
  • IndusConnect (integration to complementary GIS, CIS/CRM, Outage Management, EDMS, Scheduling and Resource Optimization, RCM, Predictive Maintenance, Financials and Human Resources)
  • IndusBuyDemand (eCommerce and surplus, salvage, and pooling)
  • IndusKnowledgeWarehouse (decision support and data mining)
Our current Energy Delivery solution incorporates the following elements:
  • Integration with call centers for new energy delivery network design estimation requests
  • Integration with GIS and graphical design systems for development of designs
  • Development of design estimates and options through PassPort's compatible units and supply chain integration
  • Simple conversion of accepted designs to work packages
  • Construction scheduling, including resource scheduling
  • Scheduling and Resource optimization through base PassPort functionality as well as integration with complementary solutions, such as ClickSoftware's ClickSchedule.
  • Mobile computing for design, construction, operations, maintenance, and warehouse
4.In the case of BC Hydro, what assets are currently being managed by Indus' PassPort software?
Generation - hydraulic 10,000MW, thermal 1,000MW, stationary and mobile diesels 45MW.All aspects of plant maintenance (pumps, motors, valves, generators, turbines, electrical and control equipment), Transmission - towers, poles, substations equipment (transformers, breakers, switches, P&C), Distribution (will implement April 2003) - poles, transformers, meters, new connections, disconnections, maintenance and capital work.
5.What specific segments of the BC Hydro supply chain are managed by PassPort?
Inventory Management, Purchasing, Contract Management (April 2003)
6.Is BC Hydro using the IndusConnect API for GIS solutions?
Yes, construction design jobs can be done in either Smallworld (graphical design) or PassPort (text).Design versions are transferred from one system to another, compatible units held in both systems and synchronized. Customer contribution (cost) is calculated using both systems utilizing a custom program based on regulatory requirements in BC.
7.What departments are using GIS/IndusConnect and for which applications?
Distribution line of business use GIS now with the IndusConnect solution in April 2003.Most of the activity with Smallworld is within the Customer Projects and Operations department - customer connections and line extensions (construction), customer care, outage identification, and dispatch using PowerOn.Transmission line of business is just digitizing the transmission grid and will begin using it for the same purposes as Distribution in about a year.
8.Is BC Hydro using an ERP system that connects with a GIS?
The ERP is PeopleSoft, and it connects with PassPort, not to GIS.PassPort will be connected to GIS via the IndusConnect API's.
9.Which ones and how is the IndusConnect solution used to integrate the two?
IndusConnect is not used to integrate PassPort and PeopleSoft at BC Hydro.They decided to build their own integration.They are interested and continue to participate in the FI SIG and anxiously await the new API's for FI.
10.How is data passed between the two systems and for which applications?
IndusConnect passes work order (WO) task data to ClickSchedule. A "reservation" task is created in ClickSchedule using the Gateway reference number for the task in Clicksoftware.When the PassPort WO task is approved with completed work related information the ClickSchedule task is scheduled according to BC Hydro's policies.BC Hydro purchased the WO API just in case the original design of the gateway/passport interface didn't work.It does work so we didn't want to mess with it.That will be replaced with SAP's CIS in Dec 2003.At that time, I expect we will implement the WO API.All indications are that GATEWAY will continue and CIS will interface with gateway.The CIS function is being transferred to a joint venture between BCH and Accenture.
11.Is ClickSchedule being used for asset deployment?
ClickSchedule is being used for field service management and vehicle routing. In the first phase, BC Hydro will optimize their dispatching of field resources based on geographic areas (construction zones). In subsequent phases, they plan on using street level routing to further increase the efficiency of their resources.This first phase has two priorities: 1) to provide appointment book scheduling for simple connection/disconnection jobs and , 2) will be dispatching simple connection/disconnection jobs which usually take 1-2 hrs in duration.Construction work will follow in a later phase.

12.Is this solution mainly used by a dispatcher?

ESCs are the primary user of ClickSoftware's scheduling solution. Previously, ESCs schedule work based in availability defined by the field service manager for each construction zone. Although the field service manager for each zone will maintain control over the workforce, ClickSchedule will enable more optimized scheduling based on what is already scheduled, work location, resource availability, skills, and other criteria specific to the way BC Hydro wants to run its business.
13.Who else?
In later phases, the field resources will report time/completion in ClickSchedule, and IndusConnect will update PassPort and GIS.The plan is to also integrate a mobile computing solution to ClickSchedule, PassPort, and GIS.Each step forward will allow Indus customers to make more effective and efficient use of their resources.
14.Is Indus focused primarily on the energy deliver marketplace and what other customers are using Indus for asset management in this industry?
There are 22 Indus clients using PassPort for some or all of their Energy Delivery EAM business processes. These companies represent some of the world leaders in the Energy Delivery industry and include American Electric Power, Northeast Utilities, PECO, PPL Corporation, Progress Energy, and Entergy, among others.
15.What percentage of Indus' business is related to GIS system integration?
GIS integration is one small part of our Energy Delivery solution and therefore comprises less than one percent of our overall business.
16.You list Intergraph and ESRI as partners.What is the workflow with the products of these GIS software providers?
Development and release of the IndusConnect Framework significantly improved our ability to develop an integrated solution that supports our Energy Delivery clients' business processes.Indus has several dozen clients using ESRI or Intergraph and several are currently evaluating our IndusConnect for GIS product.

Published Thursday, March 20th, 2003

Written by Joe Francica

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