AusNet Services, Victoria Australia

Mobility solution helps transform vegetation management at one of Australia’s largest energy companies

Business Challenge
AusNet Services (formerly SP AusNet) manages a $6.3 billion electricity and gas network that services more than one million customers in south east Australia.

AusNet Services policy is to implement a bushfire mitigation management strategy that complies with legislative requirements and strikes a balance between community safety and preservation of the environment.

Vegetation management is an integral part of this strategy and ensures the safe and reliable operation of transmission lines. To do this AusNet Services undertakes annual programs for vegetation removal, pruning and replacement along the transmission line easement.

Vegetation management is carried out by contractors who conduct assessments, audits and undertake vegetation cutting across the state. However, AusNet Services had no overall picture of vegetation management efforts as records were manually collated, inconsistent, and could not easily be made available to state and local government stakeholders. It was clear that in order to meet the needs of stakeholders and support the bushfire mitigation management strategy a better solution needed to be found.

Solution Overview
AusNet Services engaged Geomatic Technologies (GT) to provide a technological solution to assist with vegetation management. The resulting solution – Field Mobile Computing (FMC) was configured for AusNet Services needs.

FMC is an externally hosted web/mobile solution that is accessed by both AusNet Services and its contractors. FMC is a simple to use, feature rich enterprise mobility solution that incorporates robust business rules for data input and validation. The mobility solution can run on a range of devices including PDAs, ruggedised laptops and tablets.

FMC can receive data from AusNet Services AMFM GIS or Geographic Information System with the capability to run in standalone mode. The FMC solution stores all the relevant management and vegetation data in an Oracle database.

AusNet Services management of the mobile workforce, including sub-contractors, is via a web-based application that can track and allocate work.

The website provides a range of functionality that assists different roles, for example:
–  Work Order creation and management – planners and schedulers can create and track a work  order.
–  Rich map functionality – used for planning and tracking work progress.
–  Large range of reports – used to track synchronisation of data, work status, bushfire  mitigation activities, etc.

FMC supports compliance with AusNet Services policy for end-to-end visibility of vegetation management. FMC supports all roles involved in vegetation management including the assessor, cutter and auditor roles.

Outcomes
–  FMC helps AusNet Services to comply with regulatory requirements to maintain minimum  vegetation clearances from transmission lines.
–  Manual data interaction has been eliminated saving time in collating records and reconciling  inconsistent records.
–  FMC provides efficiency gains with the streamlining of works planning, packaging and  allocation.
–  FMC provides for traceability of all activities for auditing purposes. It provides “Who did What  When” information to support tracking against targets and to attain regulatory compliance.
–  FMC enables better decision making in the field by providing “last burnt” fire history map  overlays on PDAs used by field teams.