by: Brandon Amick
The utility industry must overcome numerous challenges, and many are related to the data that utilities manage. As technology progresses, more is expected of our utilities services, and good sources of data go a long way toward that goal. Let’s look at some data-related issues for utilities and how meeting those challenges can benefit an organization.
A workforce that is gradually starting to retire. Senior staff members are beginning to retire, and as they do, companies lose their valuable first-hand knowledge. Many of them take quite literally a lifetime of experience in the field with them as they leave. It is important to capture as much of that knowledge as possible in order to pass it along to the next generation’s workforce. This makes it essential to have an established set of business rules and data retention policies in place before that “data” walks out the door.
Data spread across many different forms and systems. As we struggle to move into the digital age, there are many companies that still do business in a “paper world.” A number of companies also exist in information limbo, where many processes and data have transitioned into digital, but are spread across a number of resources, some of which may be already outdated. Centralized, accessible data can improve efficiency, performance and accuracy. If all of your work orders, inspections and design documents reside within the same system, it is much faster to pull up all the items related to a particular asset. Often these items can all be referenced at once if they are part of the same system.
The effect of departmental information silos. Many companies still have departments that are the “key holders” of critical information. Department A must contact department B to get access, and when department B is backlogged, they are slow to respond, setting off a chain of counter-productivity. If data is centralized and accessible by everyone, this eliminates the slowdown effect of having to hand off information from one department to another. Access to the data can be shared without granting the ability to edit the data, and those who edit and control the data can allow access to anyone in the organization who might need it.
As these issues are addressed by an organization, the company benefits from improved design and construction workflows, reduced liability as a result of enhanced asset knowledge, and increased public knowledge and awareness with the ability to provide real-time data.
Where is your data and is it available to everyone? Do you feel that access to data can be more efficient in your organization? We’d love to discuss with you the data-management issues your organization is facing