T&D World Magazine

Unitil to Boost Reliability with Mobile Vegetation Management Software

Unitil will implement GeoDigital Solutions' enhanced vegetation management solution for planning, executing, reporting and analyzing vegetation maintenance. The package includes VegWorks, one of the mobile applications in the WorkStudio suite of utility mobile tools, for assessors and crews.

New Hampshire-based Unitil and four of its local affiliates provide electric service to more than 100,000 customers and natural gas to nearly 72,000 customers in Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire. Its territory includes approximately 2,000 miles (3,220 km) of overhead lines.

Unitil historically received high marks for customer service and regulatory compliance but wanted to enhance a companywide tree-pruning program in 2011 and initiated the search for vegetation management software that met specific criteria:

  • Track and report on distribution and subtransmission work based on feeder metrics, historic data, forecasts, work plans, unscheduled work and crew productivity

  • Plan and forecast cycle work

  • Store data in a database in a geographic format

  • Provide quality assurance/quality control for the work and provide performance indicators

  • Create work packets

  • Record and track customer restrictions.

GeoDigital's vegetation management solution automates typical utility work functions in right-of-way management of trees and ground cover. The VegWorks application is a mobile tool for assessors, vegetation crews and auditors. Crews receive assigned work and record their completions using a pen-based interface. Auditors can generate and perform random audits to ensure work was completed as specified. All work is documented and can be formatted quickly to satisfy reporting requirements.

“Once the deployment is complete, VegWorks will help Unitil supervisors to streamline work and, in turn, save time relative to planning and reporting,” said Sara Sankowich, Unitil system arborist. Foresters use VegWorks for unit-based assessments. “When you're in the field, you can take a picture and attach it to the record that's accessible to everyone. That makes it easy to assign the work and it eliminates room for error,” added Sandowich.

For more information, visit www.unitil.com.

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