Rain pounds the roof; a peal of thunder echoes outside; lightning strikes nearby; the lights flicker and then fail — tens of millions of American households experience this situation annually. Utility companies are responsible for providing support in these moments, leveraging time-tested tools and techniques and the experience of skilled linemen to turn the power back on.
However, some significant economic and infrastructural trends are making it harder for utilities to manage outages via traditional means. The U.S. power grid continues to decline, as the millions of miles of transmission and distribution line that facilitates power delivery nationwide outlives its intended technical lifespan. At the same time, around a million new customers open utility accounts every year, putting pressure on already overburdened electric distribution systems. And to top it all off, these new account holders go into their agreements with sky-high service demands molded by today’s technology-driven marketplace.
To find success in this increasingly challenging environment, electric companies must reassess their existing field workflows and look into more modern operational approaches and assets — most notably, outage management systems. OMS solutions allow utilities to develop responsive field strategies that reduce response times and drive customer satisfaction. It is no wonder then that 60% of utilities worldwide use OMS platforms.
Understanding OMS technology
OMS solutions allow utilities to oversee their electrical distribution systems through centralized data collection and communication tools. Users have the ability to ping connected field fixtures, including power generation stations, transformers and meters, to test for functionality. They can perform remote switching operations and view and evaluate outage insights in the context of information from other integrated platforms, like advanced metering infrastructure platforms and geographic information systems.
But how are utilities deploying OMS technology during outages? Here’s an example:
- An electric company manager monitoring the field during a winter storm receives multiple automated connectivity failure notifications and customer calls. She reviews the real-time outage map in her OMS solution to assess the impact. Approximately 2,000 homes have lost power.
- Field teams begin assembling. Lead linemen log into the OMS via their mobile devices to get a handle on the situation. Using system information, the manager and her field teams coordinate and execute mitigation strategies, with linemen closing out tickets remotely as they work.
- Information generated within the OMS filters down to customer-facing applications and dispatch staff who leverage interactive voice response tools to distribute updates to the public.
OMS-propelled workflows such as this benefit both customers and utilities. Electric companies gain access to real-time outage information that reduces the need for exploratory field activities and the waste they create. Linemen depart headquarters knowing what they need to do. They also venture out with OMS access and streamlined communication tools that further enhance operational efficiency and flexibility. Customers regain power quicker and remain connected to their utilities throughout the entire restoration process.
Of course, the advantages for both parties extend well beyond outages. Electric companies that cultivate and maintain more efficient field workflows normally experience cost savings related to reductions in fuel spending and other line items linked to operational functionality. Many gain the ability to develop proactive outage prevention processes as well. For instance, OMS technology can easily support infrastructure optimization and vegetation management initiatives. And finally, utilities with access to OMS solutions typically see reduced outage durations and increases in customer satisfaction, which lay the groundwork for bottom-line growth.
The long-term picture for account holders is just as cheery. Customers experience fewer service interruptions and get access to streamline communication channels, including mobile apps and IVR notification systems.
With these advantages in play, it is easy to understand why so many utilities here and abroad have embraced OMS technology.
Moving forward with DataVoice
There are numerous OMS providers out on the market. However, few can compete with what DataVoice International has to offer. We have been developing and deploying weather-tested OMS platforms for more than two decades, helping utilities across the country create outage mitigation infrastructure that keeps power flowing and revenue growing.
The DataVoice OMS comes equipped with powerful features that work together to transform field and office operations. These modules support multiple ground-breaking capabilities, including:
- Outage location: The system continually searches for and gathers outage information, meaning utility managers and linemen can easily pinpoint and address problem areas.
- Remote access: Field crews and supervisors have around-the-clock OMS access via customized mobile apps for smartphones and tablets.
- Field restoration: Linemen have the ability to view, act on and close out open service tickets without having to manage paperwork or connect with colleagues over the radio.
- Customer communication: The OMS feeds outage data directly into a customer-facing mobile app and an IVR platform, making it easy for account holders to contact utilities.
- Geospatial connectivity: All system information is displayed using a geospatial connectivity model that renders real-world views through GIS integration.
- Post-outage support: Electric company managers and linemen can ping field fixtures following the conclusion of outage events to ensure functionality has been restored.
These core functionalities make the DataVoice OMS an immensely valuable resource to electric companies that want to improve their operations and ultimately achieve more success.
Is your utility prepared to explore OMS technology and implement more modern outage management processes? Think about connecting with DataVoice. Our tried-and-true utility technologies, which range from our foundational OMS to our mobile suite, allow electric companies to move forward and find stability, even as the industry changes as a result of various internal and external developments.
Contact us today to learn about what we can accomplish together or take a look at our client success stories to see what we have been up to.