Obsessed with Leadership – Scanning the Gauges

Posted to Esri in the Digital Utility Group
image credit: ID 25991206 © Elmar84 |
Pat  Hohl's picture
Director - Electric Industry Solutions, Esri

Pat Hohl, PE, is Esri's director of electric industry solutions. He was a pioneer in the use of GIS for electric utilities. He has over 35 years of experience in utility engineering, technology...

  • Member since 2018
  • 136 items added with 193,280 views
  • Dec 28, 2020

Driving through the desert, I caught myself in a habitual pattern. Almost subconsciously, I routinely scan the dashboard gauges. Why do I do that?

As a young person, I spent hundreds of hours flying small airplanes. I occupied the co-pilot seat next to my father. The older planes we flew had no electronics. The host of gauges were all mechanical. Without computers, it took incredible discipline and concentration to fly well. I learned to be alert, regularly scanning the gauges for any sign of trouble. While my father did navigation tasks, I was the computer and often the autopilot too.

Similarly, my truck has many gauges. Scanning the gauges tells me if trouble is developing even before an idiot light is triggered. Once, I noticed the battery voltage had dipped below its normal range. The alternator that keeps the battery charged had failed completely. That warning gave me time to get it repaired -- before I was stranded on the highway. The early indication of an abnormal condition enabled me to manage a complex situation effectively.

Utility staff monitor all kinds of complex things - safety, projects, regulatory compliance, work targets, and operational metrics. Often, we rely on the “old mechanical gauges” -- reports, spreadsheets, emails, and intranet pages are all still quite popular. They’re reliable. However, they demand precious time and constant care to spot what needs attention.

Leaders look for better ways and use modern techniques.

Modern airplanes use smarter instruments. These electronics now take what used to be six separate gauges and put the information on one display. They monitor the systems and automatically alert the pilot to abnormal conditions. The pilot’s workload is reduced dramatically. Performance increases. Modern utility practice does the same thing. It unites data and uses dashboards to monitor performance.

Everything a utility is concerned with has a location. As a result, location a powerful way to blend data and understand it better. With information in one place, “smarter instruments” can augment the spreadsheets and emails to reduce workload while improving communication and transparency. Users around the organization easily use dashboards on their device of choice, in real time.

People work better where leaders provide focus.

Color-coded dashboards, map displays, and infographics provide visual performance indicators. With early warning, staff have time to take corrective actions toward the utility’s strategic objectives.

Who has time to alertly monitor the daily and monthly emails looking for important tidbits? And, by the time the corporate idiot light comes on, it may be way too late. Manage today’s complexity more effectively with smarter instruments rather than the old mechanical gauges. For more information about how ArcGIS replaces old gauges with colorful dashboards visit our website.

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Pat  Hohl's picture
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