Operations Management – What You See Is All There Is

Posted to Esri in the Digital Utility Group
image credit: ID 51163004 © Helder Almeida |
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 193,030 views
  • Oct 16, 2020

A very agitated Troubleshooter stood before us. They had some spirited opinions about a model of switch that didn’t operate correctly. One occurrence dragged out an already burdensome switching procedure – on the worst possible day. “Something has to be done.” These switches were “falling apart all over!” They knew many that needed to be ripped out immediately. Is that the best course of action?

What is the best resolution for the company and the customers?

What You See Is All There Is

We needed to do something. We had information in front of us -- it made perfect sense. A suggestion surfaced -- create an emergency work order to replace them straight away!

“The confidence that individuals have in their beliefs depends mostly on the quality of the story they can tell about what they see, even if they see little.”   “What you see is all there is.”― Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow

A brilliant psychologist, Kahneman determined that we take in information and promptly create a mental narrative. We use only what is right in front of us and form it into the most reasonable storyline. Our mind does this with no conscience effort at all. Furthermore, we are nearly blind to what information is missing. Kahneman says we have an “almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance” -- a sobering thought. 

Limited Understanding

As we talked, we had very limited information about the switches. We needed to understand more. A more careful analysis would ask – what are the consequences of those potential failures? How many of these switches are on-system? What detailed asset information exists? How does this need compare to other operational needs? How should we best apply limited resources? That would require time, too much work, and difficult data.

Get it together

What’s needed is to conveniently bring all the information together in a way that makes sense to operations – by location. (IoT example) Have you ever seen an operations center without maps? I have not. Maps create understanding with location. Location yields perspective to operational activities and concerns.

It’s hard to get all the data together, and harder still to understand it. It would really help to know things like feeder configurations, loads, planned work, past failures, and inspection results. The problem is that utility information is often scattered around different divisions, systems, and formats. Some of it is old, and some is real-time. It is all different.

ArcGIS devours data using location technology – everything from spreadsheets to drone imagery! Plus, it analyzes, displays, and distributes the business intelligence. Anyone can see the results on a phone app or an infographic. As a result, improved situational awareness upholds system performance and workforce efficiency.

Look beyond the isolated equipment issue of the day. Use more data and make better decisions. Leading utilities use a complete picture to optimize their operations. For more information about how ArcGIS improves coordination and operations in the field download our latest e-book.

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