Leveraging the cloud to manage data collection and distributed field teams

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Companies with geographically distributed offices and field crews face challenges in the continuous and near real-time management and tracking of their employees, vehicles and equipment. While there can be many different non-interconnected tools and methods involved in exchanging data, managing schedules and documenting tasks, when they are combined with manual steps and media distractions, this can actually increase the risk of errors, thereby costing time and money.

There are tools on the market that deliver project and task management, including software packages for field forms and reports, and others that track time.

These are mostly divided into highly complex project task management, surveying and GIS applications, as well as more or less trivial “mapping” applications.

Often you need a high degree of technical skill to use these tools, or sometimes they might not have a focus on the utility sector.

They also lack enterprise functionality and interoperability, often requiring many steps to complete the field-to-office process.

An integrated solution

Utility Mapping Australia, a leading consultancy service provider that delivers underground utility survey and mapping, needed a powerful and integrated solution to operate its business across four operational offices spread across Australia.

C.R. Kennedy, Australia’s largest supplier of surveying equipment and geospatial solutions, offered to Utility Mapping Geolantis.360, an enterprise-grade, next generation platform, to manage workforce operations, data collection, inspections, and company assets.

In an initial project, Utility Mapping got the chance to use Geolantis.360 in conjunction with the powerful Leica Zeno 20 GNSS handheld and EMI locator, also supplied by C.R. Kennedy.

In this integrated solution, measurements from the EMI locator are automatically transmitted to the Zeno 20 via Bluetooth, enabling the asset information to be integrated with the GNSS position, and utility attributes to be uploaded to the Geolantis portal in real-time.

After exploring its powerful real-time mapping capabilities, Utility Mapping then became interested in the extensive workforce management capabilities of Geolantis.360, in order to envisage  a complete end-to-end process.

An in-depth analysis showed that many of the operational workflows and business requirements could be managed using a single integrated cloud based software package.

Benefits for field workers

Access to maps, project related information and instructions is important to complete daily duties and maintain personnel safety.

The challenge is to bring this information to the field and have it in one central place.

Previously, workflows required multiple applications and field workers could not access information while they were in areas without cellular coverage.

This made the process of updating data, timesheets or job dockets time consuming, especially if transposed from paper forms to digital.

Introducing Geolantis.360 as a central smart phone and tablet based application and dashboard results in improved productivity, allowing personnel to concentrate on the main tasks and finish documentation and reporting more easily.

Advantages for operation management teams

Having real-time access to data and the status of tasks allows managers to see what field teams are doing without having to wait until the end of the workday.

Faster access to data, timesheets and job dockets also allows for better decision-making, easier planning of next steps and faster project progress.

Overall, the replacement of error-prone paper processes with a digital workflow, including validation logic, results in fewer inquiries to the field team and more consistent and accurate data.

Utility Mapping was able to streamline its processes by eliminating paper forms.

The streamlining of workflow for post-field work tasks such as data processing and reviewing therefore increases efficiency and response times.

Advantages from a manager’s point of view

One of the biggest challenges for management teams lies in having a general overview of previous, current and future projects, and foreseeing bottlenecks on personnel and equipment resources.

This is mitigated by the cloud-based Geolantis.360 platform, as it delivers a higher level of productivity, faster decision making, and improved customer communication, estimates and approvals, which all reduce operational costs.

This partner content is brought to you by CR Kennedy. For more information, visit survey.crkennedy.com.au/gis.

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