Jan. 5, 2001–The Siemens Power Transmission and Distribution Group (PTD), Erlangen, Germany, has recently begun cooperating with the Canadian software company M3i, one of the leading suppliers of Workforce Management systems (WFM), in order to give an extra boost to its business of providing IT solutions for the energy market.
M3i has a staff of 160 and specializes in meeting the needs of power utilities. The new link-up with M3i means that Siemens is now able to offer energy suppliers anywhere in the world integrated workforce management systems that all originate from a single source. Using WFM, power companies can coordinate the activities of their field service teams more effectively and also achieve more efficient crew and fleet management.
Each service crew has a PC in its vehicle so that it is not only in touch with its control center through a data link using GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) or GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) but also, thanks to GPS (Global Positioning System), the controllers know precisely where they are at any moment. WFM systems are ideal for helping energy suppliers to improve the efficiency of their operations at a time of growing competition in the liberalized energy market-place.
Workforce management systems provide automated job allocation that helps to optimize the work of power utility service teams so that the utilities can improve their job planning and processing, cut their operating costs, use IT instead of paperwork and produce statistical analyses and reports quickly.
This provides a better overview of field work and improves the overall service because the customer can be given information that is both faster and more accurate – such as the current status of a supply system repair. The introduction of a WFM system produces a rapid return on investment because most standard jobs can be allocated automatically and travelling time and wasted time can be reduced to a minimum. It is also possible for a system to be shared by more than one power utility (with a mandate capability).
The part of Siemens PTD directly responsible for the new cooperation is the Power Systems Control and Energy Management Division which, under the umbrella of Siemens Utilities IT, designs, develops and markets total IT solutions in conjunction with the Metering Division and Siemens Business Services (SBS). The aim is to offer the energy industry total solutions and services comprising both process-related IT and business management-oriented software.
Workforce management systems:
The WFM systems used by power utilities allocate jobs to the companyà¯¿½s field service staff automatically – not only according to deadline, priority and distance from the job site, but also according to the specializations of particular members of staff. Details of all the service crews are stored in the shift schedules contained in the WFM system.
The job data can also be transferred automatically to the customerà¯¿½s information system, to a fault management system, to geographical information systems or to SAP systems for further processing. SAP systems, for example, can manage warehouse stocks and prepare invoices for finished jobs. The central control room has a direct link to the mobile PCs in the service vehicles.
The position of a vehicle at any moment can also be pinpointed from the control room through GPS (Global Positioning System) that is linked to the mobile PC in the vehicle and through a radio data link. A symbol on a map of the area in the navigation system in the control room shows where a team is currently working. The jobs for each individual crew are transmitted directly to the laptop in the vehicle on which progress is also recorded.
Thus, the control room can obtain status reports from any of the crews at any time. Goods inwards and outwards – spares needed for a job, for example – can be demanded by the service technicians directly from a goods ordering system, so that stock levels can be kept to a minimum. When jobs have been completed the software passes on the details to a billing system.
The power utilities can use several radio systems in parallel for communications between the central control room and the field staff; radio data communications, GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) are supported. It also means that the infrastructure investment already made is being secured – something that can be of considerable economic benefit, especially in connection with company mergers.
The Siemens Power Transmission and Distribution Group (PTD), Erlangen, Germany, ensures as a product supplier, system integrator and service provider reliable transmission of electrical energy from the generating plant to the consumer. Conventional products such as switchgear and transformers nowadays account for only about half of the Groupà¯¿½s sales.
More than 30 per cent now comes from products and systems concerned with electronics, information technology, communications and software; the figure covered by service business is already as much as 20 per cent. With a workforce of about 19,800 and 50 manufacturing locations around the world, Siemens PTD achieved in the 2000 fiscal year (ending September 30) sales of EUR 3.3 billion and Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) of EUR 149 million.