By Natalie Ekroth
Mobility and Digital Twin are two concepts which are constantly on the agenda. More and more parts of society are not only expecting but demanding access to information whilst being outside of the office walls where ethernet and connectivity is taken for granted. The list why you as a utility network provider would want this is rather long, with accessibility to accurate and updated information, avoiding manual paperwork which needs to be transferred to digital systems when back at the office, and the ability for in-house staff and field engineers to see changes in real-time, are only a few.
As well as the idea of mobility, we are also rather used to the idea of a Digital Twin. For utility networks, a Digital Twin is a digital representation of your physical network, with its assets, nodes and all the information related to these. In order to have a Digital Twin, all information from the physical world has to tally with the digital one. What happens when you move the Digital Twin out of the office?
Access accurate and updated information in the field
When fieldwork is required, there will inevitably be changes to the physical network. This can be adjustments or repairs, such as updating the position of the planned route during a walkout or graffiti removal on a cable cabinet during maintenance work. A field engineer needs to keep track of everything that is being done, and all information has to be updated. There are ways of doing this. In the traditional manner, a field engineer would bring the activity list on a hard copy, or a digital copy on an electrical device. Note that the second this is a copy, you deviate from your Digital Twin. Should the field engineer instead work with a mobile device which is synchronized with the system, correct information will be available there and then, with no risk of potential changes affecting the task at hand. The field engineer can get on with the work, trusting that all information is updated. And even better – all changes can be updated at the same time as they are executed in real-time.
Avoid manual paperwork and update field work in real-time
Should the field engineer use paper or an electrical devise, then this will have to be brought back to the office, where the field engineer would update the system with new information. After the time spent travelling back to the office, the Digital Twin will tally with the physical network again. Before that, you are again out of sync with Digital Twin, the representation of your utility network. With a mobile device with access to the system, the field engineer documents all changes in the mobile device – a laptop, tablet or mobile phone – for secure and seamless collaboration between the field and the office. Simultaneously, should office staff need to update information, or stay in touch with the field engineer, this all works in one, unified system. This enhances the quality of the documentation, and saves lots of time, since double work is avoided.
See changes in real-time and make use of the maps
With Digpro’s products for utility network owners, you also benefit from the maps. Should, for example, some other part of the utility network urgently need seeing to, the field engineer can be instantly informed. With access to the maps, the field engineer can search for the objects, and get directions to where they are and what needs to be done. At all times, the field engineer can stay in touch with the office.
Support by the Digital Twin in offline areas
For areas where the internet connection is unstable or none existing, such as remote areas or places underground, further mobile options are available. With support for working with mobile devices offline, a field engineer can download activities whilst in an area with stable internet connection. The activities are saved on the mobile device, and the field engineer can get on with whatever work needs to be executed, even when offline. The downloaded objects that are linked to the activity can be updated in the same manner as when online. This allows field engineers to for example do a cable cabinet replacement in dpPower, or patch work in dpCom even when the unit is offline. Once back online again, the changes are seamlessly uploaded to the system.
The processes become faster and more efficient. The quality of the network documentation is improved, since there is no need to transfer written notes to the system. You do it there and then, saving time and enhancing quality. Mobility ensures that your Digital Twin is up-to-date, supporting your utility network at all times, inside and outside the office walls.
Digpro has over 15 years’ experience in working with mobility. The support is continuously developed, with focus on a user-friendly interface, never compromising security. Do you want to learn more about our mobile support for utility networks? Read more about mobility for dpPower and dpCom, and do not hesitate to contact one of our engineers for a demo.
Meet the expert
Natalie Ekroth is Product Owner at Digpro, and is responsible for the development of the work management module Organizer and other related modules such as Maintainer and Designer.
She holds a Master’s degree in Transport and Geoinformation Technology from Royal Institute of Technology (Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan, KTH), and has worked at Digpro for six years.