Get a Demo

Esri User Conference 2024

JULY 15-19, 2024 | SAN DIEGO, CA

Visit with Epoch Solutions Group

Join Epoch Solutions Group in booth 912 for the 2024 Esri User Conference, the world’s largest GIS conference. Join us in discovering new opportunities to streamline your utility field operations with EpochField, leveraging GIS technology and Esri.

With EpochField, learn how you can:

With EpochSync Pro, learn how you can:

Presentation Schedule

The utility industry is undergoing a digital transformation. Companies in this space, whether electric, gas, or telecommunications, face significant changes in their business operations. One of the most critical areas is the need to adapt how field work is managed and operationalized. Epoch Solutions Group will discuss key elements for implementing GIS in your utility field management solution.

Don’t miss our presentation, “A Complete Guide to Field Service Management Using GIS for Utilities,” presented by Software Development Team Lead Paul Lam from Southern California Gas Company.

Wednesday, July 17
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM PDT
Room 29 D | SDCC

♥ add the presentation to your Esri Event App schedule!

5 Trends That Will Impact Utilities in 2024

The environment that utilities operate in is more complex and volatile than ever, with significant forces impacting the ability to plan effectively and meet every stakeholder’s needs. James Street, CEO of Epoch Solutions Group, reviews the five trends he believes will have a major influence on utilities in the coming year.

1. Climate risks and electrification are stressing the grid.

More frequent and severe storms have become the norm and are expected to continue for the foreseeable future. While hurricanes have always been a concern, convective storms, extreme heat, and wildfires are also on the rise, placing more pressure on the grid. For example, a McKinsey report forecasts that by 2030, Minnesota will see a 75 percent rise in extreme heat days and Colorado will see a 29 percent increase in severe thunderstorm frequency. Almost 90 percent of the western US could experience as many as 30 high Fire Weather Index days annually. And persistent droughts are making it tougher for thermal and hydroelectric utilities to ensure reliable power. With much of the industry’s infrastructure assets well beyond their intended lifespan, extreme weather also becomes more difficult to respond to, resulting in more temperature-induced power line losses and longer power interruptions. The electrification trend and rising data center power use are likewise stressing the grid in ways we couldn’t foresee just a decade ago. As consumers and businesses adopt electric vehicles and favor electric heat pumps, electricity demand is escalating. And as AI, blockchain, and cloud computing become more prevalent, they’re driving up data center power consumption. With seasonal load profiles changing and electricity demand rising, utilities face greater pressure to ensure grid reliability and performance. In this disruptive environment, field asset management and vegetation management become more difficult yet more critical, demanding digitized, flexible platforms that enable utility staff to complete these tasks efficiently and accurately.

2. Grid planning is becoming more complex.

A dynamic and volatile environment will continue to complicate holistic grid planning that’s designed to manage growth, improve reliability, and enhance resilience. For example, dispersed and aging infrastructures, outdated technology, changing regulations, and evolving risks all make it more difficult to plan and manage field assets effectively. That includes assessing and monitoring asset health and risk, managing vegetation risk, and deploying field resources optimally, both for proactive, scheduled work and emergency situations. The increase in bidirectionality is only adding to grid planning complexity. Millions of devices at the edge—including solar panels, electric vehicles, and smart thermostats—are now participating in power generation and impacting grid behavior. This trend will make it more vital, though more complicated, to model and manage utility assets in the context of rising risks, changing customer behaviors, and aging assets. Enhanced modeling and asset management solutions will prove increasingly critical, especially to help field crews work optimally during regular operations and mutual assistance scenarios. With access to real-time information about live and offline assets, utilities can improve asset management planning by empowering field crews with accurate data and enhanced situational awareness.

3. New government policies are posing new requirements for utilities.

While government policy always has the potential to impact utility operations, two of the latest rules from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will likely require utilities to meet new requirements for ensuring gird reliability. One such rule directs the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to develop a standard around transmission system planning for extreme heat and cold weather conditions. Another requires power transmission providers to report on their policies and processes for conducting extreme weather vulnerability assessments and identifying strategies to mitigate these risks. In addition, several energy policies aim to advance smart grid technology that has the potential to help electricity distributors reduce costs, improve reliability, and meet the challenge of balancing supply and demand. Though there are significant benefits to be realized, developing and implementing smart grid technology will require major capital investments. Many utilities are already moving ahead with smart grid systems that employ two-way communication and intelligent devices, aided by various US Department of Energy grant programs.

4. Government investment is facilitating the clean energy transition, but risks and challenges will remain.

Renewable energy adoption is increasing rapidly, now accounting for about one-fifth of US total power. With world leaders agreeing to new climate goals at the recent COP28 summit, that figure is set to rise significantly. Governments worldwide are providing financial incentives to ease the energy transition for power companies, with the US alone committing billions through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The IRA extends and modifies key tax credits for renewable energy investment and production, funds the acceleration of new energy infrastructure siting, and incentivizes carbon capture, while the IIJA is funding infrastructure modernizations that support clean energy expansion and improve resilience. Despite such financial assistance, along with the opportunity that the clean energy transition offers come a host of challenges for utilities. Renewable energy sources can be intermittent, yet consumers and businesses demand stable, reliable power. New energy sources take time to scale, but power demand is rising dramatically. The ability to plan effectively during this critical transition will require enhanced systems and better access to data that can help utilities make informed decisions about deploying and optimizing assets amidst change and unpredictability.

5. The digital technology transformation is helping utilities tackle emerging challenges.

Many utilities are finding that the transformation to digital technologies can help them meet new challenges, address emerging requirements, and adapt to continued change. In particular, they’re shifting away from legacy systems to more flexible and integrated platforms that support new ways of working. The move to cloud-based solutions, GIS-based applications, and digitized field service workflows, along with the integration of disparate systems and data sources, is helping leading utilities leverage data and technology to transform their operations and meet new challenges head-on. In modernizing their technology infrastructure and applications, utilities are prioritizing use cases that demonstrate the greatest tangible value. For example, a geospatial software platform that syncs asset data in real-time across disparate systems, applications, and devices can yield high ROI by giving operations and field teams the visibility and situational awareness to work more efficiently and safely. These digitized platforms also provide access to the data needed to prevent the disastrous consequences of unmanaged vegetation impacting power lines brought down by extreme weather, as well as inspect and manage joint use assets like poles, wires, and circuits to reduce costs and avoid redundancies.

Why Utilities Are Partnering with Epoch Solutions Group

Leading utilities recognize the value of partnering with a solutions provider that can help them meet new requirements and challenges at a time of great change and uncertainty. For many utilities, that partner is Epoch Solutions Group. Our EpochField solution leverages geospatial technology to help utilities improve field asset management, reduce costs, and minimize breakdowns and outages. This geospatial workforce management platform is empowering utilities across the US to meet reliability requirements, enhance safety, ensure power availability, and maintain compliance in a volatile environment. Schedule an EpochField demo to see how this solution can help you meet emerging challenges.
New call-to-action

The Latest Impacts of Grid Strain, Microgrids, and Other Trends Affecting the Utility Industry

In January 2023, Epoch Solutions Group CEO James Street met with energy industry forecaster Peter Kelly-Detwiler to discuss the growth of new technology, energy sources, and increasingly complex distribution grids. A lot has happened since then, including more severe weather events impacting an aging infrastructure, the growth of electric vehicles putting more strain on the grid, and increased use of microgrids to help ease the strain.
 
Peter and James met again in September 2023 to review the trends they have seen throughout the year, the impact they have had on the industry, and how utilities can adapt and thrive by prioritizing proper asset management strategies and technologies. Download the webinar to get insight from Peter on how your utility company can stay at the forefront of the trends affecting the industry and your utility company in the years to come.

Download the Webinar Recording

James Street

James Street
Epoch Solutions Group Founder & CEO

Peter Kelly-Detwiler

Peter Kelly-Detwiler
Energy Industry Thought Leader: Author, Consultant, Speaker

Drive Efficiency & Unlock the Power of Location: Geospatial Solutions for Gas Utility Asset Management

Managing your gas utility’s field assets in a way that reduces outages, reduces risks, and improves service has never been more challenging. The EpochField enterprise asset management tools help you drive down costs, improve service response, and avoid equipment failures by conducting more effective, proactive asset maintenance.

View this demo of EpochField’s asset management features to see firsthand how its GIS technology, map-centric interface, and other features can help you maintain, service and trace your field assets more efficiently.

Why It’s Critical for Gas Companies to Digitally Manage Assets

For gas companies today, the regulatory landscape is rapidly evolving. New laws, such as ASTM F2897, continue to raise the standards for how gas utility companies must manage and track their assets in the field.

To maintain compliance with ASTM F2897 and other emerging industry regulations, gas companies are required to ensure that their infrastructure assets are performing safely, reliably, and sustainably – and to report the condition of field assets at a more granular level than ever before. Attributes ranging from the exact location of an asset to its material composition, size, manufacturer, model, lot number, production date, and facility, and maintenance history must be digitally recorded into gas company databases, reported to regulators, and updated as conditions in the field change over time.

Digitally Transforming the Industry

While in the past gas company asset data has been collected by field crews primarily through manual processes or hybrid models involving both manual documentation and digital apps, the need for gas companies to digitize their asset management processes has never been greater.

To help gas utility companies capture the essential asset data they need to comply with regulations and achieve the operating performance they are seeking, a new generation of geospatial technologies is revolutionizing the industry. Aided by intelligent workflow automation and highly visual map-centric interfaces, these solutions are empowering back-office teams and field crews with the tools they need to more effectively communicate, collaborate, and share real-time geospatial data.

While there are many digital asset management solutions available to gas utility companies today, not all offer the full range of capabilities they need. To maintain assets optimally, keep pace with increasing consumer energy demands, mitigate risks, and stay in compliance, investing in an enterprise-grade geospatial solution is a best practice every gas company should follow. Serving as a point of integration across field asset management systems and applications, an advanced platform can deliver deep visibility into the condition of assets and real-time situational awareness that gas companies need to achieve these and other goals:

  • More comprehensive and proactive management of their infrastructure
  • Better troubleshooting of problems before they escalate
  • The ability to ensure the health and safety of field workers
  • Improvement in response times when service outages occur
  • Complete, up-to-date asset management records
  • Reduction in both operational costs and regulatory risks

Here’s What to Look for in a Solution

An ideal digital asset management solution should be built around geospatial technology that allows gas utility companies to both track and trace assets and integrate that data into all related operational and business process workflows.

The platform you select should be scalable, configurable, and enterprise-wide, and it should allow you to import geospatial data regarding field assets into interactive digital maps that allow your team to drill down and view pertinent details about infrastructure assets.

The platform should also automatically sync data between mobile apps, back-office servers, and applications deployed in the cloud to ensure that all stakeholders can see the same up-to-date data and efficiently plan surveillance, maintenance, and repair work accordingly. It should enable fast, easy workflow creation and management as well, without requiring additional coding, and feature automated work scheduling engines and distribution modules for mapped asset data.

With the right digital asset management technology in place, gas companies can realize these and other benefits:

  • Real-time data sharing across systems, applications, locales, and personnel
  • The ability to analyze data for strategic assessments, predictive modeling, and more informed decisions on field deployments
  • Automated workflows to accelerate productivity and reduce human errors
  • Faster responses to outages for more reliable service uptime and better customer experiences

Why Choose EpochField

With EpochField, gas utility companies can gain the visibility into the condition of field assets and the real-time situational awareness they need to understand and record high volumes of asset data, optimize the performance of assets, ensure safe, reliable energy delivery, and meet the regulatory mandates governing the industry. Highly configurable to meet each gas company’s unique operational requirements, EpochField offers these and other advanced features:

  • Mobile offline collection and viewing of asset data for field personnel who are often working in remote locales, without an Internet connection
  • High-performance digital maps that display geospatial data holistically and dynamically update as new data is processed by the system
  • Configurable work order forms that are produced automatically based on field mapping data
  • The ability to customize schedules, work orders, and other operations documentation for the specific project or situation at hand

Schedule an EpochField demonstration today.

Digitizing Gas Utility Workforce Management Enhances Community Safety

Industry technology is quickly transforming, making it essential for natural gas utility companies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their operational workflows. One way to accomplish this is to automate and digitize the data collection process. By digitizing workforce management, natural gas companies eliminate manual touchpoints that can compromise not only the quality and accuracy of the data but also community safety.

Tracking and traceability automation solutions enhance safety measures by allowing natural gas companies to adhere to safety and environmental regulations that keep communities safe by preventing gas line-related disasters and that reduce the gas industry’s environmental footprint. These digital solutions are revolutionizing the natural gas industry, bringing deep, real-time visibility into the locations, conditions, and technical attributes of natural gas assets, information that can be easily accessed and utilized by mobile field workers who are tasked with installing, inspecting, and repairing equipment.

The ideal tracking and tracing automation can support workflow processes allowing field workers to have remote access to asset map data and be able to work more efficiently in the field. When field workers can visually represent asset data, it increases the effectiveness and accuracy of both small, individual crews and entire services territories. Below are a few important features you want to look for when selecting your workflow automation.

  • A web-based platform to serve as a point of integration enterprise-wide for administration personnel, supervisors, and dispatchers
  • A full-featured mobile application allowing workers to conduct installation, inspections, and other routine maintenance tasks with all the data and functionality at their fingertips – on their smartphone or computing device of choice
  • Forms that can be easily configured
  • Offline functionality and high-accuracy GNSS receiver integration for easy mobile access to satellite data
  • A scheduling and dispatch engine that leverages real-time insights to expedite and simplify mission-critical workforce deployments
  • Mobile workforce management features that allow managers back at the office to dynamically track the location of field crews and quickly divert them to new locations as needed
  • Work-order management functions for easy digital planning, tracking, and management of work orders
  • Enterprise level asset management tools to coordinate essential operational processes and enable deep, ongoing visibility into the condition of remote natural gas infrastructure.

Download our latest guide, “Automating Tracking and Traceability Processes: Minimizing Human Error for Better Field Outcomes” to discover how digital tracking and traceability tools can help you lay the foundation for a future defined by greater uptime, innovation, and better protection from the damaging effects of environmental factors.

Automating Tracking and Traceability Processes: Minimizing Human Error for Better Field Outcomes

With industry technology digitally transforming so quickly, the pressure is on for natural gas companies to embrace new tracking and traceability tools as they are brought to market and to modernize their systems, applications, and organizations.

In this report, we explore how digital tracking and traceability tools are revolutionizing the natural gas industry and providing for easier, safer, and more efficient field operations.

Read the guide to learn:

  • The latest regulatory requirements affecting the natural gas industry, such as ASTM F2897
  • Why it’s important to make the investment now in automated tracking and traceability technology
  • Key features to look for when selecting a digitized workforce management solution

Download the White Paper

Sempra Energy Increases Field Worker Efficiency and Work Productivity

Project Summary

Project Type:

Implemented its geo-enablement platform solution to the electric and gas field workers.

Location:
Southern California, United States

Number of Customers:
2.5 Million +

Applications:

Allow field workers to search, identify, measure, and redline sketches through an intuitive user interface.

Solutions Implemented:
EpochField

Customer Benefits:

Ability to run on multiple device platforms such as Windows and iOS

Ability to work offline while beyond internet connectivity

Integration with Sempra’s current Work Management System

Introduction

As the largest natural gas utility in the United States, Sempra Energy needed a software solution that would provide up-to-date data to its fieldworkers across the company’s service territory in Southern California. Along with their electric service territory and with approximately 2100 fieldworkers in the Los Angeles and San Diego metro areas, the company required a solution that would save fieldworkers time while helping them effectively manage and maintain gas and electric service to Sempra’s 25 million customers in the region.

The Challenge

Sempra, the parent company of SoCal Gas and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), required a simple yet powerful digital mapping solution. Furthermore, the solution needed to provide daily updated maps and lead to improvements in accuracy and efficiency for fieldworkers as they completed their day-to-day tasks. Some of the specific requirements included:

  1. Ability to run on multiple device platforms such as Windows and iOS
  2. The ability to work offline while beyond internet connectivity
  3. Integration with Sempra’s current Work Management System

The Solution

Epoch Solution Group has implemented its geo-enablement platform solution EpochField, to the electric and gas field workers across Sempra’s service territory. EpochField is a map-centric, Esri-based application that provides a suite of tools which help Sempra’s fieldworkers complete their daily tasks quickly and effectively. The application allows field workers to search, identify, measure, and redline sketch through an intuitive user interface.

One of EpochField’s advantages is its map-first approach – users can zoom, pan, and identify objects on the map as naturally as they would any map application on their phone or tablet devices. EpochField also provides the foundation for workflows in the field such as asset inspection, and gas leak survey. Through integrations with the enterprise work management system, work orders can be delivered seamlessly to the field.

The Results

In 2017, San Diego Gas & Electric completed its rollout of EpochField for electric field workers, and has seen vast improvements in efficiency and work productivity. The simplicity of EpochField’s user interface allowed SDG&E field workers to adopt the new platform quickly and with minimal training. For 2018, the remaining gas users are being deployed. Both Epoch Solutions Group and Sempra look forward to the continued expansion of EpochField into their workflow, and the future implementation of our EpochField Gas Leak Survey.

Integrating Smallworld Data into an Esri Environment At Puget Sound Energy

Project Summary

Project Type:

Data Conversion

Locations: 

Western United States

Number of Customers: 

1.1 Million +

Applications:

To convert Smallworld Data into
an Esri environment

Solutions Implemented:

EpochSync

Customer Benefits

Converting legacy data

Enhanced geospatial data

Use of Esri products

The Challenge

Puget Sound Energy, a gas and electric utility company serving 1.1 million customers in the Pacific Northwest, has continued to supply their customers with natural gas and electricity since 1997. With their customers continuing to grow, PSE needed to have a better way to visualize their geospatial data across the enterprise. Esri was chosen for its web and portal technology and being able to disseminate the geospatial asset data. In order to complete this, PSE needed a way to efficiently extract the data from their legacy Smallworld system.

The Solution

Users throughout the PSE Organization can now access GIS Data any time they are connected to the web on the PSE Network. In the future, PSE may decide to expand this to public-facing servers that would allow access to users using any device connected to the internet.

Epoch Solutions Group recommended the use of EpochSync, an application to seamlessly migrate Smallworld data into an Esri enterprise geodatabase hosted in SQL Server. This involved an initial full synchronization of the data and, afterwards, ongoing periodic synchronization of incremental changes from Smallworld. Once this data was available on the Esri Server, the web architecture was leveraged to provide applications to end users that allowed them to log in through a single portal and access several different geographic datasets, whether or not that data originated in Smallworld.

PSE also had a need for several custom tools to be provided to their users, including an electric and gas distribution network tracing tool and a web markup tool allowing users to submit change requests to the electric distribution data administrators. Epoch Solutions Group built these tools into applications.

The Results

Users throughout the PSE organization can now access GIS data any time they are connected to the web on the PSE Network. In the future, PSE may decide to expand this to public-facing servers that would allow access to users using any device connected to the internet.