The Paper Problem
The paper data problem becomes even more challenging during restoration — when hundreds, or even thousands, of non-native crew members arrive, putting copy machines into full-time duty. In the wake of such an event, damage assessors carry their paper feeder maps to the field. They add handwritten notes, which must be transcribed into an OMS at the end of the day. Paper feeder maps delay the damage assessment process, and therefore restoration, because managers can only prioritize repairs once an assessor’s notes have been entered.
Start Small, Scale Big
Alabama Power originally provided tablet PCs — laptops with screens that fold back and utilize a stylus — to field personnel. However, they were so cumbersome, employees often left them in the vehicle, opting for traditional methods of handwritten field notes followed by desk-based computer work with a keyboard and mouse. The utility also mounted ruggedized laptops in vehicles for certain employees. While it has continued this approach with some work groups, it is often limited to ticket-based work assignments and rarely are those devices taken from the vehicle and toted around.
- Always on (no bootup time), easy to carry, true touch-screen mobile interface.
- Inexpensive yet durable, especially compared to rugged laptops.
- Always connected with built-in LTE, so no dealing with Wi-Fi-only issues or tethering.
- Great for navigation to assets with built-in GPS and leveraging location-based apps.
- Seemingly endless supply of third-party apps to meet the utility’s needs.
- Device-agnostic, web browser-based apps reduce downside of native apps.
- Larger screen size than a phone for viewing maps, for example.
- Can double as a laptop with keyboard, mouse and virtual Windows desktop.