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Review: Our Top Session Pick – Brad Baugh, Distributech

By January 25, 2018Blog

We knew that Distributech was going to be big this year and you may have missed our Top Session Pick, so we created a Top Pick Review to help you catch up or just recall everything covered during this powerful session.

Brad Baugh, team leader for Alabama Power Company, Power Delivery – Distribution Technology, delivered a 30-minute presentation at 8 a.m. today at Distributech in San Antonio to approximately 65 people on the topic of ARCOS Damage Assessment. Background on his presentation can be found in our previous blog post.

Brad was pinch-hitting for his colleague Chris McClain who was dispatched to Puerto Rico to help with restoration. Brad’s presentation began by stating the problem with the open-loop, manual damage assessment approach in place at Alabama Power. He asked how many others had a similar situation, 25 percent of the attendees in the room raised hands. Brad said, “Even the best manual processes have room for gaining efficiency, especially through technology.”

Brad underscored the problem of multiple handoffs of maps and information between storm coordinators, damage evaluators and field crews, as well as the difficulty and delays interpreting handwritten assessments, especially when evaluators come from the ranks of non-engineers who aren’t able to distinguish between a 3-phase transformer bank and a 3-phase hydraulic re-closer.

Each piece of missing information, request for clarifications and search for broken equipment causes the assessment process to drag out. That, says Brad, delays getting the right resources to the right place, which “piles up costs and stretches out restoration time.”

Brad said that Alabama Power fixed this situation by deploying iPads and Damage Assessment (DA) to approximately 1,200 line crews and engineering and support staff in Dec. 2017. He described DA as a tool that’s “eliminated all the issues with our paper-based process.” According to Brad, DA is a mobile app and back-office system. He explained how DA takes advantage of GIS data, works on mobile devices. Brad says, storm coordinators use it to, for example, assign a user to a feeder and push assignments to their mobile device of choice; any others assigned to the same circuit would get the same feeder maps.

According to Brad, from the user perspective, they get a map showing a feeder; they can collect data, search for roads and see a job list of all the feeders a coordinator has assigned the damage evaluator. Brad said, “The lasso tool is the best because you can quickly report everything is broken in the big events like a hurricane, and the system handles the identification of each piece of equipment within the lasso. You don’t need to be an engineer; you simply report a piece of equipment is damaged, and DA does the identification and reporting back to the coordinator.”

This information is flowing from our GIS, said Brad, and is pulling in a small subset of GIS data to let an evaluator collect data; as long as they are standing in front of a pole, they don’t need to know if something is a transformer versus a re-closer. “They just select the device and tap that it’s damaged,” added Brad.

“The tool has worked really well for us,” remarked Brad. “And the one piece we hope to have completed by hurricane season is eliminating some data entry by coordinators between DA and our OMS.”

In closing, Brad said, “With DA, Alabama Power has . . .

  • Eliminated paper-based feeder maps
  • Done away with multiple, physical hand-offs between coordinators and evaluators and crews
  • Been able to reach evaluators before they leave their homes with electronic assignments
  • Eliminated handwritten notes, so evaluators and crews can mark work complete and coordinators can see the number of broken poles, overall damage, etc.
  • Reduced confusion and time to transpose notes on maps
  • Most importantly, sped up resource management decisions because there is real- and near-real-time information that was never there.”

Brad got the following questions:

Q: Is there any integration with WMS, like Maximo?
A: We have no integration in DA with Maximo, but we will have that OMS integration I mentioned, soon.

Q: Who makes the product?

Q: What type of database is ARCOS running on?
A: Oracle.

Q: How does DA handle network disconnect?
A: As long as you have a feeder map downloaded, you can record damage, and it’s continually “syncing” all day long. A screen will show you how much you’ve synced to, but it’s doing it regularly. I’ve not had any trouble with synchronization or being slowed down or disconnected when using it in my role as an evaluator.

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