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Morrison Utility Services - maintaining critical infrastructure

4 Nov 11 The challenge: collecting real time information from the field

Millions of consumers rely on their utility companies to provide the electricity, gas, water and telecommunications that they need every day. Many utility companies in turn rely on Morrison Utility Services to provide, repair and maintain the critical network infrastructure that delivers these services to end users across the UK.

Large numbers of Morrison Utility Services teams are involved in these essential tasks. The company has to ensure that each job is completed as efficiently as possible with minimal disruption to the public and that it operates within the requirements of each local council in every area that it operates.

In ground works for example, from the start of every job to its completion, each step is meticulously recorded.  Previously working on paper-based systems issues could arise with teams contacting offices.  Recording detailed descriptions of each job along with dimensions was done over the phone.  When lines were busy working time could be lost causing delays and frustration. 

As a result of strict legislation governing work undertaken in public highways and footways, Morrison Utility Services needs to ensure that it complies with each period of notice it is given to get work done.  If the works are not completed and left clean and tidy after this time the company may be liable for a financial penalty.  In the process of its work, Morrison Utility Services may be working to upwards of 35,000 council notices per year on one contract alone.  It stands to reason then that mitigating any risk of overrunning these notices benefits not only the company but also its clients, their customers and local councils.

In the world of utility infrastructure repairs gathering photographs of jobs throughout the various stages of completion is important.  This capability has been enhanced by the introduction of Morrison Utility Services’ bespoke works management system, Isis. Isis offers a real time facility for tracking the progress of works which are planned, in progress and completed creating a virtual paper trail of correspondence, photography, job pack information and specifications.  Working within the Noticing system, Isis is crucial in supporting Morrison Utility Services teams, its clients and local councils and keeping everyone informed of progress.  At the end of each working day the system enables Morrison Utility Services to assess progress and forward plan work and resources in order to work as efficiently as possible.  In order to do this Morrison Utility Services needs to obtain real time data from site accurately and effectively.

The solution: a bespoke work management system utilising time and date stamped work sheets including photography

Previously Morrison Utility Services had trialled PDA’s but found these lacked the functionality and ease of use for collecting work sheet information.  Having identified digital pen technology, based on Anoto functionality, as a potential alternative solution it began talking to destiny.

An early task was to redesign the work diary or track sheet.  The previous four page multi-coloured form was converted into a simpler and more intuitive two page digital form.  Data sections to capture details of the individual job, location, start and finish times was included along with the facility to add sketches showing work carried out.

After an initial successful pilot with five Morrison Utility Services teams, the destiny® system was rolled out across the business.  In contrast to work under the previous system; at the start of every new job office-based staff update the status of the job to ‘in progress’.  This triggers the start of the council notice and photography is taken prior to any works beginning.

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Once the job has been completed, the track sheet is written out in full with the digital pen. Then, simply by ticking a “send via mobile” box in the corner of the form, the pen strokes are transmitted via Bluetooth to the user’s mobile phone. After verifying the Morrison Utility Services reference and track sheet number and attaching photography the electronic data is sent on to a dedicated Morrison Utility Services server hosted by destiny with the date and time captured.  This is completed all in less than one minute.

Office staff are then able to access all this live information using destiny’s secure, password-protected online Manage service.  Once the reference number has been validated, the track sheet can be printed off and the data transferred onto the Isis works management system with photographs attached to each unique job record.

The results: speed and efficiency

The introduction of digital pen technology has brought about improvements in overall speed, efficiency, and quality of information. Ground works teams can start work faster, report more efficiently and reduce unnecessary travel back to base to return paperwork. Even teams working at night can transmit their data making it available first thing in the morning. Reinstators receive excavation and jointing information more quickly and can plan their works more efficiently. Morrison Utility Services can also confidently manage its Traffic Management Act compliance, part of the council noticing process. It is important that Traffic Management Act compliance is followed and managed correctly because if the site is not left in the condition it was originally found in or the time scales agreed are exceeded, the company will be fined.

Photographic evidence is also helping to resolve any queries once jobs have been completed.  In a further operational advantage, Supervisors can assess site photography remotely and use their technical expertise to make decisions particularly concerning health and safety; Morrison Utility Services’ highest priority.

Calls to the office have dramatically reduced meaning initiating work is much faster and paper and printing costs have also been reduced. Intuitive digital forms have taken the place of complex multi-coloured carbonless sets. Track sheets no longer have to be scanned into the Isis system, and anyone with access to the system can now instantly see any sheet they want without having to root through paper records in filing cabinets.

Morrison Utility Services is reaping the environmental benefits too with fewer site visits required and no need to pick up or return track sheets on a daily basis.  As a result driving hours have been significantly reduced with big productivity gains.

Originally bought to support a single contract, Morrison Utility Services has now extended the use of destiny solution across other contracts utilising over 300 units in the field. 

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