All utilities count on their field teams to keep their systems up and running, performing potentially dangerous hands-on work on tight schedules and struggling against the elements. Giving linemen new technology to improve their job performance is an important consideration, but it comes with a caveat: Those tech tools should be intelligently designed to actually suit the day-to-day work linemen perform. Solutions that aren’t right for use in the field may see poor adoption rates or simply fail to get the intended results.
What capabilities should lineman tech tools deliver?
Mobile applications provide utilities with a way to create a cohesive data environment, one where real-time information is available to all stakeholders, including linemen in the field. This improved connectivity between linemen and the office can take a few forms, promoting safe and effective resolutions to issues:
Outage mapping: Using a modern outage management system in the office allows utilities to precisely plot trouble spots on Google Maps and dispatch teams to resolve them. An effective lineman app will put these maps in field teams’ hands and help them navigate to areas of need. These maps aren’t just valuable in emergencies, as they can also help personnel inspect and collect assets, assess damage, audit meters and manage vegetation affecting power lines.
Administrative workflow features: Field personnel equipped with effective apps can directly pull up service tickets, inspection requests and work orders from their mobile devices. Rather than filing paper documents, linemen check off the procedures while still on the go, promoting accuracy and saving time.
Communications and monitoring: Managers can use their tech tools in the office to keep watch on their personnel in the field due to the connectivity between lineman apps and in-office utility software. Managers using vehicle tracking technology can tell precisely where crews are, helping them keep linemen on the right track – and out of unnecessary danger.
What drives adoption and use among linemen?
The key to getting value from utility technology deployments is picking tools that are intuitive to use – solutions that don’t feel functional or deliver clear advantages may be ignored or passed over. Linemen spend their days performing high-pressure tasks, and technology that feels like an imposition to use won’t become a natural part of their practiced, specialized workflows.
Success stories from utilities that have implemented mobile apps tell a consistent story – when tech tools allow linemen to complete their tasks in efficient, intuitive ways, getting users to support the technology isn’t an issue.
Teams that find work orders complex and slow to file should embrace an app that digitizes the process. Improving coordination during disruptive events such as major service outages is another great use case for mobile apps. Once linemen have experienced such a situation with the new system, the difference from old-fashioned communication methods will become clear.
To find out how a new technology deployment incorporating mobile apps for linemen can improve operations and overall conditions at your utility, reach out to DataVoice. Email us or call us at 888-328-2864.