Even after many years of experience and continuous enhancements to the iMAM© base solution by Wessendorf Software & Consulting, TEN to profit from the roll-out of intelligent measuring systems. IT supported business processes are indispensable for the efficient maintenance of power networks and quick resolution of disruptions. TEN, as the largest regional network operator in the free state of Thuringia, has a power grid around 33,000 km long and runs a gas network of about 6,000 km. It recognized early on the potential mobile solutions have for economical network operations. Even before the turn of the century, a primary information logging system for maintenance (IESI) was developed during the writing of a thesis and implemented for power lines and substations. “At that time, we had thousands of maintenance reports on paper, archived de-centrally and we lacked the means for any evaluation”, remembers Jörn Lutze, the man responsible for the roll-out, development and mobile solution support at the time.
In 2003, the custom software was expanded and integrated into the SAP system. This led to big advantages in maintenance planning and the implementation of maintenance procedures. It also offered a wide range of evaluation possibilities after work had been completed.
The Berlin software house Wessendorf Software & Consulting, together with team leaders, implemented a solution for mobile assignment planning based on a central order pool in SAP PM/CS for maintenance and customer service. Around 300 network operators were provided with orders and technical data for facilities and equipment at the time, in the mobile SAP MAM (SAP Mobile Asset Management). Alongside the documentation of inspection results, the software allowed time reporting to be used as a reliable basis for time and cost bookings. It also made a more timely and accurate cost analysis possible.
Since the first SAP solution was launched more than 10 years ago, the IT world has changed in ways previously unimaginable. The use of mobile devices has conquered almost every part of our everyday lives and even school children today own powerful smartphones, whose functionality and technical accoutrements were not conceivable a few years ago.
Much has changed at TEN due to technological breakthroughs in the past few years. On the hardware side of things; Panasonic Toughbooks designed for outdoor use have been issued to service technicians. These are on par with “classic workplace computers” in terms of power and can withstand the challenges that everyday use in the field brings. In terms of software a bid process was initiated after support for SAP MAM expired, which in turn was replaced with the iMAM solution from Wessendorf Software & Consulting.
The application uses open standards, which noticeably decreases integration and business costs. iMAM is operated via a browser or web interface and is available both on and offline. Changes and enhancements are automatically rolled out on every device, thereby avoiding additional administrative work. “Because of our technological approach, companies are not dependent on us and do not need any proprietary knowledge to enhance the solution themselves”, says Michael Wessendorf, director of WSC. The standard solution from the Berlin software house, was further developed in conjunction with the Wessendorf company and the IT service provider BTC. “Over the years, we have continually adjusted the user interface and functionality to the growing requirements of the currently, around 280 service technicians, who work with the solution daily” said Philipp Matthey, who oversees the solution in the IT and processes specialist field.
Digitalization of Processes for seamless Data Handling
Supporting service technicians on-site began even in the planning process. When a work order is opened because of the SAP maintenance plan, the system adds a projected duration and schedules an appointment for carrying out the work. The SAP order details deliver the necessary information about the service technicians’ qualifications, forming a reliable basis for technician resource planning. A further important enhancement to the iMAM solution is the direct connection to the company-internal, mobile Geographic Information System (GIS), which can be opened by the technician on-site from the order list. The GIS system then provides the order object header with all relevant topological network information.
Thanks to an additional enhancement, extra information can also be added to the technician’s order for use on-site. This could be results from maintenance inspections as well as electronic documents. Pre-defined replication guidelines and clearly delineated integration specifications when adding or replacing production facilities or asset components (SAP object equipment) ensure an easier workload and noticeably reduces the amount of time required to complete tasks.
Pre-defined codes and code groups allow for more detailed and concise results when recording measurements. The prioritization of results for necessary repairs was adopted from the previous solution.
Every finding requires a status (light damage, heavy damage, immediate action required) and a local explanation report can be added to further evaluate the issue.
Efficient Individual Activity Recording including a Travel Log Solution
Maintenance and building work are becoming increasingly associated with longer journey times because of ever-growing networks. TEN technicians across the 18 sites often need a lot of time to reach the necessary assets as a result of the size of the network.
A travel log solution was integrated into the mobile application to gain a more precise insight into individual activity-based travel. Times and kilometers traveled are now recorded for each work order. It is also possible to record the usage time of special vehicles, which can be balanced retrospectively against stored values.
Service technicians can check and correct their travel entries (times and kilometers) as well as the usage duration of special vehicles and network replacement assets according to each order in a daily or weekly overview.
Complete Documentation in the SAP Backend
Information is bundled and sent to the SAP backend after an order is closed and the documentation in the mobile solution is complete. “Because of the iMAM software’s intelligent logic, we have incredibly fast synchronization times, which is highly valued among our service technicians” says Philipp Matthey. Maintenance results for every order recorded on mobile devices can be called up and edited by the back office. All relevant data for every maintenance order, including additionally recorded mobile information (photos, etc), can be easily viewed in an SAP image report. The comprehensive time and travel overview completes the work documentation, which also serves as part of the travel log component for network service.
Central data retention in SAP at TEN eases the continuous, cross-departmental data processing considerably. For example, the bookkeeping department profits from the automated travel log booking (time and kilometers) at the end of the business year, as the billing process can be activated without waiting for additional manual entries.
TEN was able to gather a lot of practical experience due to its early entry into the mobile SAP connection in maintenance. They now profit from this in the realization of new projects.
With the introduction of the Measuring Points Business Law (MsbG), TEN as a meter operator must incorporate smarter and newer measuring systems. Jörn Lutze, who oversaw the implementation of the mobile maintenance solution, has since become head of metrology[SH1] [NA2] . Together with his co-workers they must implement the roll-out under tight budget and time constraints. Approximately 35,000 installations of modern metering equipment are annually replaced by external service providers.
There are around 10,000 intelligent measuring systems as well as 4,500 state-of-the-art measuring devices and 2,000 gas meters, which must be assembled by internal staff and documented systematically due to new construction and commissioning processes.
“The experience gathered in mobile maintenance over the years creates the perfect groundwork for the integration of new mobile processes in intelligent measuring. Thanks to mobile connectivity, the installation as well as the documentation of new meter technology can be efficiently designed and incorporated into the existing processes” concludes Jörn Lutze.