There is no shortage of options for utilities looking to modernize their operations with cutting-edge technology. From feature-stuffed outage management systems to flashy customer mobile applications, software companies continue to roll out sector-specific products at an accelerated clip. However, hidden among these heftier offerings, lie easy-to-implement digital tools with transformative potential. Fleet tracking platforms fall into this category. These solutions can impact key operational variables and ultimately vault adopters to new heights.
Improved worker safety
Linemen and other service workers face countless dangers when executing everyday job duties. Consequently, many suffer injuries or worse. On average, 45 field technicians lose their lives annually, according to research from the nonprofit Fallen Linemen. Electrocution and falling are the most common causes. Utilities, of course, do everything they can to mitigate these safety risks. However, many look past an equally serious yet infrequently mentioned work hazard: the open road.
Transportation accidents account for one-third of all employee fatalities, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration discovered. And yet, linemen are often assigned service trucks and left to their own devices when making calls. With fleet tracking tools, utility managers can monitor the whereabouts of service crews and view real-time trip data, including direction and vehicle speed. This gives them the insight they need to establish effective road safety protocols and head off risky behind-the-wheel behavior.
Enhanced operational efficiency
Utility workers responding to strings of service calls sometimes spend hours outside of the main office. As they navigate their communities and move from line to line, time wastage can become an issue. In most cases, it's unintentional. For instance, a lineman may take the most familiar path rather than the fastest one. However, sometimes service personnel out on calls may steal away for some en route relaxation, a practice that wastes time and company resources.
Utilities can deploy fleet tracking software to address both of these problems. Solutions with geospatial monitoring enable managers to view commonly traveled circuits. Using this information, they can look for alternative routes that cut down on travel times. Additionally, they can also access real-time idle information, along with prior location markers, which gives the ability to address less-than-ideal driver behaviors. By addressing these small yet significant wastages, utilities can improve operational efficiency, conserve resources and better serve their customers.
The average utility customer experienced at least one major outage in 2015, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. Those enrolled in cooperatives were particularly vulnerable, suffering at least two. Considering the size and complexity of the U.S. electrical distribution structure, this number suggests that public service providers are doing a good job keeping the lights on. Even so, there is room for improvement, especially when it comes to mitigating the effects of ongoing service interruptions.
While advanced OMS solutions and other robust tools can point service crews in the right direction, complimentary systems are needed to streamline field operations and facilitate flexibility. With fleet tracking technology, dispatchers can monitor vehicle movement and reroute crews at a moment's notice to address unforeseen issues. Plus, these platforms allow office-based utility personnel to share accurate estimated arrival times with affected customers.
Overall, fleet tracking solutions open new opportunities utilities, giving them the tools they need to maintain cost-effective, streamline workflows that improve worker safety and facilitate flexibility. Here at DataVoice, we offer fleet tracking services through our proprietary Lineman mobile application. Our solution integrates with a variety of third-party automatic vehicle location platforms and pairs seamlessly with the industry-leading DataVoice OMS. Connect with us today to learn more about our Lineman application and its fleet tracking capabilities.