United Energy is a Victorian electricity distribution company serving 670,000 customers in Melbourne’s south-east suburbs and the Mornington Peninsula, with a network that covers 1,450 square kilometres. In 2018, Zinfra was awarded the operations and maintenance contract for the entire United Energy network, becoming the utility’s trusted partner in energy through its flexible and transparent approach to service delivery.

Zinfra has delivered operations and maintenance services to the northern region of United Energy’s network since 2012, but became the single service provider across the utility’s full network in January 2018.

The initial three-year contract covers the 24/7 operations and maintenance of United Energy’s electricity distribution network, across an asset base that includes:

  • 46 zone substations
  • 13,863 distribution transformers
  • 204,000 poles
  • 121,700 public lights
  • 4,212km of HV-OH lines
  • 1,145km of HV-UG cable

Zinfra is committed to building genuine relationships with its clients and communities, and Brad Walker, Program Manager at Zinfra, said that two years into the contract, Zinfra’s relationship with United Energy has never been stronger.

“We have monthly workshops with United Energy to discuss issues, monitor trends, and develop shared initiatives and action plans,” Mr Walker said.

“This regular collaboration is important to achieve our shared goal of keeping United Energy customers on supply for as long as possible. If customers need to be off supply, we want to ensure it’s for the shortest amount of time possible and there’s no reason to go back.”

Leveraging industry expertise and a proven track record

The scope of work is varied, including everything from asset inspection, fault management, bushfire mitigation and capital works to customer and stakeholder management, project management and asset lifecycle management. 

Such a comprehensive contract highlights Zinfra’s broad range of engineering, project management, construction, operations and maintenance services, and its partnership with United Energy highlights how it is using its industry expertise and technical capabilities to make a positive contribution to Australia’s energy infrastructure.

There are approximately 400 Zinfra employees and 200 contractors working on the United Energy network services agreement, with all processes continually reviewed and documented to improve workflow and visibility across the different teams and programs.

Zinfra embraces continuous improvement and is always looking to understand, improve and innovate in the areas where it can add most value. 

In 2018, Zinfra completed a successful trial of its Work Order Management System (ZWOMS) – a fully customisable mobile and cloud-based IT solution that connects to multiple devices and applications – to enable more efficient scheduling of work to field crews. 

ZWOMS gives Zinfra the ability to track and understand what is happening in work programs on a real-time basis, and 2019 saw the implementation of the full multi-resource scheduling and work order management system.

“The system has been in place for 12 months, and it allows us to identify inefficiencies and improve scheduling of works on a day-to-day basis. I believe the longer we use it the more benefits we will see,” Mr Walker said.

“We have also incorporated drones and asset inspection technology as a way of continually improving the service provided by both organisations and reducing costs. Mounted cameras connected to mobility devices, such as tablets, through wifi allows us to see what the camera is seeing from the ground.”

Taking pride in a job well done

The first two years of the contract has seen Zinfra achieve multiple KPIs, including a consistent HSE Index Score above 99 per cent and a Customer Satisfaction Score of more than 90 per cent. 

The Customer Delivery Index has improved from 62 per cent in 2019 to 95.9 per cent in March 2020, which Mr Walker attributes to a renewed focus on a performance-driven and values-led culture.

“Our Operations Manager, Paul Cameron, and our General Manager, Power Services, Sue Jackman, have been at the forefront of ensuring we’re working with clients to achieve successful outcomes on projects,” Mr Walker said.

“It’s about listening to our clients and making sure we understand what they want, then delivering it at an affordable price and in a timely manner – and doing that for every job, every time.”

“Ultimately, it comes down to being the most efficient service provider to United Energy by reducing planned outage hours and impacting customers as little as possible.”

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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