EpochField 5.2 Release

What's New in EpochField 5.2

EpochField 5.2 introduces new features for data management and administration along with an enhanced user interface, including support for phone format devices. In addition, it migrates the mobile application to the .Net Maui framework to follow some recent Apple App Store compliance issues related to iOS 17 support with the Xamarin framework. A number of bug fixes and performance improvements have also been implemented in both the EpochField Web Suite and EpochField Server components.

The following highlights some of the new features available at 5.2.

Product Highlights

  • Work Management Enhancements: As part of our support for vegetation management workflows, we have made some significant improvements to the work management tool:
    • Streamlined Workflows: Enhanced data collection capabilities simplify processes, reducing administrative time by simplifying data entry and facilitating efficient editing, bulk creation, and deletion of features.
    • Improved Data Accuracy: Enhanced features ensure precise data entry, minimizing errors in records. Personalized work feature filters help tailor data management to specific needs.
    • Enhanced Field Worker Efficiency: Tools like auto-populating form categories and customizable work order filters optimize field worker productivity. Optimized user experience on Toughbooks with stylus support enhances usability in the field.
  • Redesigned Mobile UI/UX
    • Mobile Interface Redesign: Modern and intuitive design for enhanced usability.
    • Engaging Experience: Improved interface boosts productivity and simplifies interactions.
    • Intuitive Navigation: Easy-to-use design for seamless navigation and understanding.
    • Increased Efficiency: Streamlined workflows promote faster task completion.
    • Simplified Interactions: Reduced complexity for improved usability.
  • WMS Inbound Queue Optimization
    • Improved Performance and Stability: Enhancements boost system efficiency and stability.
    • Streamlined Operations: Optimized processes ensure smoother workflow execution for enhanced productivity.
    • Minimized Disruptions: Identified and resolved bottlenecks in the WMS Inbound Queue to minimize work management disruptions.
  • Self-Managed Work Order Process Improvements
    • Work Order Task Upload: A large part of utility field work involves workers planning their own work in the absence of enterprise-driven work order creation. Field workers can initiate ad-hoc work orders and upload CSV lists of assets for completing assignments, such as routine inspections, within EpochField Mobile.
  • Work Order Status Visibility Enhancement
    • Enhanced Visibility: Provides unified visibility into work order statuses for improved operational oversight.
    • Shared View: Ensures all stakeholders have a common, near real-time view of work order statuses.
    • Configurable Status Flow: Provides ability to define statuses and allowed status transitions between statuses on work orders to promote controlled workflows and align with outside systems.
  • Esri ArcGIS Enterprise 11.1 Support
    • Compliance with Esri ArcGIS Enterprise 11.1 software, aligning the platform with industry standards and providing users access to the latest geospatial capabilities.
  • .NET Maui Migration
    • Future-Proof Development: Establishes a solid foundation for future cross-platform mobile development.
    • iOS 17 Support: Migration to .NET Maui addresses recent Apple App Store compliance issues related to iOS 17 support.

Bug Fixes

ID Title
30727 Workflow Form: Navigation button enabled even though there is nowhere to navigate
30823 Omni-present Identify Tool does not reactivate once deactivated
30892 Map Markup: Editing a map markup feature comment appears buggy on iOS
30897 Login button remains active on a fresh install when the application is offline
31069 Inconsistency with the required indicator on the workflow UI
31706 Address search routing needs improvement in UI
31777 Map Markup Attachment view is too large
31926 Support for Composite Locators needed
32249 Rename the title of the Sort Work order filter to: "Choose and order fields to sort by:" from "Choose up to 3 fields to sort by"
32329 When a work order filter is enabled and group visibility is managed, the filter shows as active but is not
32360 Work order filters not functioning consistently
32399 Mobile: Map markup attachments with long names cover the delete button
32407 Work Calendar: Scheduled equipment doesn't display unit number in the resource name
32413 Opening a Work Order without editing causes users to become "stuck"
32414 Print Options: "Map Only" and "Header and Footer" produce the same result
32415 Worker calendar: "Add title" text defaults for an unnamed resource at a specific time
32435 Asset Query Screen: Filtering on date fields fails to generate a workable query
32440 Unable to enlarge Gantt chart in version 5.1
32455 PDF attachment doesn't work when added from Mobile and opened in Work Scheduler
32460 Adding attachment to a work order in Work Scheduler results in inability to open attachment on mobile
32508 Scroll Bar covers buttons
32567 Groups/Roles Currently Assigned are not populating
32570 Assets tab not visible when clicking to View an SDS Work Order
32658 Work Order Dialog: Input validation on existing WO throws a message
32672 Fixing file already exist error
32673 Table EPOCHFIELDUSER creates a new user record every time it goes to the portal
32674 Selecting address suggestions fails to actually select the suggestion
32683 Issues with Sync Fusion controls for iOS and Android
32888 Mobile: Version 5.2 crashes in EFRelationship in models
33042 Omni present tool bug on Google Street View and tracing tools
33072 Unable to create a new worker in Resource Management
33137 Caching Base Workspace Names takes over an hour
33140 Several functions in WMS take several minutes to run or more
33142 Running WMS generates a bunch of empty log files for each tool
33146 Log file purges delete everything in the log folder, not just old logs
33380 enable_archiving_attachments.py script is broken
33526 Remove portal maintenance from WMS
33578 Database after running Archiving/Attachments is missing some views
33581 Work Order List/Filtering Gantt: Issues with colors
33623 EF Data Class doesn't default schema to configured value
33833 Saving color in Schedule Item type saves an "ff" at the end of the hex
33892 Weird and intermittent messages related to out of memory exception while downloading a package more than 200 MB
34087 Gantt Filter doesn't change colors as expected when filtering
34091 Creating child work order from Gantt is inconsistent
34455 Work Scheduler freezes when map configuration to ESRI is not correct
34486 Work management views loading bug
34917 State model processes take a long time to load
34918 Errant character "<" in Processes page
34919 Save Process button
34921 Not able to add states with a hyphen
34923 Should not be able to save a process without transitions
34924 Left align the Process cards
34926 Validation of transitions is too much
34963 Large space between tabs and Event log grid
35014 Data Prep has incorrect scripts for EPOCHFIELDLOG and does not contain EPOCHFIELDSCHEDULEITEMVIEW
35064 Should not be allowed to copy a Schedule Item Process type
35065 Clicking copy on process card creates 2 copies
35067 States are not copied correctly when copying a process
35088 Word Order ID overlaps buttons when adding User History in ad-hoc work order
35091 Duplicate process name validation does not clear
35092 Can't tell which states are duplicate
35093 Copying processes naming is weird
35094 Certain states are required so different products can function
35095 Sort Process cards by name
35096 Editing a state model process should allow for adding transitions and states
35097 Edited process names not showing correctly in process cards
35098 Performance issue when refreshing process cards
35104 State model audit tracking not inserting nulls for nullable IDs
35107 Sort State model dropdown
35109 Each update to WO causes a state audit record to be saved
35112 Deleting all scheduled items does not set the audit tracking correctly
35113 Scheduled item changes are not being audited
35526 Work Order Filter Form freezes when tapping reset to default
35535 Fix known issue with layer toggle colors
35558 System has issues after it has 2000 active work orders
35674 Database Lock
35718 Logs are not uploading to WebApi
35742 Leading or trailing spaces should be trimmed off when updating in Resource Management
35787 Relationship attributes information does not display when the key fields used in the relationship joins are included in the attribute exclusion tags
35822 When closing a work order form, it throws a null reference exception
36416 Blank Dialog When Typing in Workflow Fields
36671 Sync closes the download-only geodatabase in UWP causing null reference errors
36761 Error with null reference on addControl for EventLogs component
36779 Add button not working for Configure state for schedule item types
36789 Saving, Save and completing work flow form throwing object reference error.
36830 Sometimes General Settings adds additional records
37005 Broken Access Control Leading to Privilege Escalation
37007 Non-Standardized Queries: SQL Injection In a Stacked Query Context
39369 WMS/InboundQueue/Maint. not functioning as intended

CEO James Street Joins GISCafe Bunker Broadcast

James Street recently sat down with Sanjay Gangal for GISCafe’s Bunker Broadcast to discuss Epoch Solutions Group’s innovative mobile workforce management software solutions for utilities.

Check out the recording here >

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.
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Esri International IMGIS 2024

APRIL 8-10, 2024 | FRANKFURT, GERMANY

Visit with Epoch Solutions Group

Join Epoch Solutions Group in booth #123 at the 2024 Esri International Infrastructure Management GIS Conference to learn about EpochField and our suite of products. Move your organization’s location intelligence forward with GIS and connect with professionals from across industries, such as architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC); electric, gas, and district energy; telecommunications; transportation; and water.

 

With EpochField, learn how you can:

With EpochSync Pro, learn how you can:

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:

T&D World LIVE

OCTOBER 1-3, 2024 | ATLANTA, GA

Visit with Epoch Solutions Group

Join Epoch Solutions Group in booth 600 for T&D World LIVE 2024 to learn about EpochField and future grid distribution, digitization & big data, and more.

T&D World Live aims to unite the industry in addressing evolving grid demands, fostering education, networking, and open discussions, featuring top industry experts. This event, designed by and for utilities, spearheads collaborative efforts to navigate challenges and excel in the evolving energy landscape. Join us for a dynamic, community-driven experience shaping the future of the utility industry.

With EpochField, learn how you can:

With EpochSync Pro, learn how you can:

Digitize Your Utility Damage Assessment with EpochField

When your utility is facing a damage assessment after a storm event, manual collection of data can slow down the effectiveness of your field crews.

EpochField helps utilities collect accurate data and operate more efficiently when it matters the most.

This video demonstrates how EpochField:

  • Replaces the generation of paper maps,
  • Enables real-time scheduling decisions,
  • Improves service response times,
  • Provides online and offline access, and
  • Enables sharing of work order and asset information.

View the Demo

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

Better Utility Asset Management Starts with These Best Practices

A rapidly evolving regulatory landscape, higher service expectations, dispersed and aging infrastructures, technology constraints, and the shift to renewable energy sources all combine to make it more challenging than ever to deliver service reliably, safely, and profitably. This environment also makes proper asset management more difficult, yet more vital to accomplish.

Asset management helps utilities maximize value while optimizing the resources for necessary repairs and upgrades, replacing the traditional run-to-failure approach. Proactive asset management enables utilities to minimize breakdowns and outages, ensuring continued service delivery, and extending asset life.

By taking a best practices approach to asset management and leveraging digitized asset management solutions, gas and electric utilities can overcome today’s considerable operational obstacles. The following best practices provide a great start.

Define Success

Your utility asset management program should be guided by clear, thoughtful objectives. Most utilities implement an asset management program to reduce costs, improve productivity, minimize the risk of an unplanned outage, and/or extend the life and usefulness of their valuable field assets. Your specific business objectives will drive the key performance indicators (KPIs) you use to track progress against.

Evaluate Processes

Obtain a baseline of your current asset management processes and practices, focusing on what’s working vs what isn’t. Review all asset management standard operating procedures (SOPs), looking for gaps or obsolete procedures that need updating.

Take Inventory

Proper asset management demands an accurate, detailed inventory of every field asset, including its location, size, manufacturer, model, lot number, material composition, installation date, inspection history, maintenance and repair history, current condition, and projected remaining useful life. From there, you can rank the criticality of each asset using an objective scoring method, based on criteria such as how much the network relies on that asset and its importance to service delivery, along with factors like failure types, probabilities, consequences, and costs. The results will inform how you plan and prioritize asset maintenance, repair, and replacement, enabling you to invest in operational improvements with the greatest ROI.

Create a Plan

To deliver the optimal service at the optimal cost, utilities need to acquire, operate, maintain, and upgrade or replace field assets as effectively as possible. And that demands a comprehensive, continually updated asset management plan. The plan should document all your field assets, how you’ll schedule and track their maintenance and repair, how you’ll manage and track budgeted vs actual asset management expenses, risks and mitigation measures for each asset, clear roles and responsibilities, and an asset management lifecycle strategy.

Integrate Your Systems

Disparate legacy systems are common in the utility industry, but they make it tough to manage field assets proactively and strategically. Because they often store data in different formats and don’t share it seamlessly, it’s difficult to gain visibility into accurate, real-time information to direct repair and maintenance efforts. And without that information at their fingertips, field crews waste time contacting operations for the necessary details.

A solution that utilizes geospatial software can improve integration by syncing asset data in real-time across systems, applications, and devices, equipping operations teams and field staff with the visibility and situational awareness they need on the job. Platforms that integrate field asset data into critical GIS solutions, as well as mission-critical business applications from providers like SAP and Oracle, prove most effective.

What to Look for in a Digitized Field Asset Management Platform

To unlock the value of proactive asset management, many utilities are adopting geospatial technologies that digitally capture and track asset data, optimize asset performance, improve compliance, and boost efficiencies. By combining automated workflows and map-centric interfaces—and sharing data across back-office servers, cloud-based applications, and mobile apps—a digitized field asset management platform helps the operations team dispatch, schedule and deploy field crews efficiently and gives field crews the situational awareness to complete their work quickly, accurately, and safely.

Before investing in a digitized utility asset management platform, consider which features and functionalities will most help you streamline work, improve efficiency and productivity, and reduce costs. Most utilities find the following essential:

  • A single platform that drives field asset maintenance, repair, and tracking
  • Ease of configuration to match their specific needs
  • Scalability to any size or type of utility
  • Dynamic, interactive maps that provide a full view of field assets and supporting details
  • Intuitive functionality that speeds and simplifies customized workflow and work order creation
  • Flexibility to develop maintenance schedules based on skills, proximity, availability, training and certification requirements, and other criteria
  • Access to real-time data online and offline to support remote locations
  • Enterprise data integration for easy access to asset and resource data across the technology ecosystem and data sharing across systems, applications, personnel, and locations

Why More Utilities are Choosing EpochField

For many gas and electric utilities, the field asset management platform of choice is EpochField from Epoch Solutions Group.

EpochField leverages geospatial technology to help utilities improve field asset management and maintenance, reduce costs, and minimize breakdowns and outages. Our digitized asset and field management solution provides operations teams with real-time situational awareness to optimize how they deploy field crews to inspect and repair utility field assets and manage vegetation. Utilities that use EpochField are positioned to deliver the service today’s customers demand, while ensuring safety, maintaining compliance, and gaining full asset traceability.

Download our detailed Guide to Deploying an Effective Asset Management Strategy. Or contact Epoch Solutions Group to learn how EpochField can transform how your utility manages your valuable field assets.

Best Practices for Improving Utility Asset Management

Best Practices for Improving Utility Asset Management: A Guide to Deploying an Effective Asset Management Strategy

It’s never been a more challenging time to run a thriving, profitable utility company. From rapidly evolving regulations and escalating consumer service expectations to aging infrastructures and disparate legacy systems, utilities face significant operational obstacles in their quest to deliver power reliably, safely, and profitably. These challenges make proper asset management more vital than ever, yet more difficult to accomplish.

This guide is designed to help. It reviews the industry trends that are placing greater pressure on utility operations, the ways in which asset management solutions can help overcome those challenges and support a utility’s most critical business goals, the best practices that can help your organization manage assets more effectively, and how a digitized solution can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your utility asset management efforts.

Download the Guide to Learn:

  • Trends and regulations impacting asset management for utility companies today
  • The vital role that asset management has on a utility’s operating expenses and capital expenditures
  • A five-step best practices approach to utility asset management
  • How a digitized field asset management platform can help streamline work, improve efficiency and productivity, and reduce operating costs

Download the White Paper

To Migrate GE Smallworld Data to Esri, Utilities like BC Hydro Turn to EpochSync

Many utilities struggle to utilize their GIS data effectively across the enterprise, especially when that data resides within GE Smallworld. With more utilities looking to leverage the power of Esri’s ArcGIS Utility Network to gain more functionality—especially for huge datasets—the ability to migrate Smallworld data to the Esri platform is becoming a must.

So when BC Hydro faced limitations in the tools it could use to work with its transmission and distribution GIS information effectively, the company knew it was essential to make its Smallworld data accessible on Esri.

As IT Advisor Evan Schwab noted, “Other business groups in the company, like our power generation group, were using Esri for GIS data. While we currently have two GIS systems, we’re looking to develop new capabilities on the Esri platform going forward.”

Eager to gain ready access to the GIS data required to provide reliable service to more than 50 million customers, BC Hydro turned to Epoch Solutions Group’s EpochSync automated data migration tool. This scalable solution synchronizes data between Smallworld Version Managed Data Stores and Esri ArcGIS Enterprise Geodatabases, enabling even the largest utilities to easily migrate Smallworld data to an Esri geodatabase.

Once the initial synchronization is done, EpochSync only needs to perform periodic data synchronizations, ensuring just the incremental data changes are synchronized. And through a .NET-based user interface and Smallworld Magik components, EpochSync makes it easy to develop flexible mappings that support data syncing between different data models, empowering a utility’s staff to create those mappings to extract data with minimal training.

At BC Hydro, EpochSync provides a “set it and forget it” solution that runs nightly and is easy for internal staff to configure and maintain. Now, this British Columbia-based utility can use tools like ArcGIS Story Maps to develop distribution planning maps and share GIS data with external groups to provide much-needed situational awareness when major events happen.

Read the BC Hydro case study to discover all the business benefits that EpochSync provides for leading utilities.

EpochField 5.1.4 Release for Mobile

We are thrilled to unveil the latest version of our mobile app, EpochField Mobile 5.1.4. Our developers have been dedicated to optimizing the field user experience and have implemented numerous improvements to enhance the app’s performance and efficiency. We take pride in providing our clients with a reliable product, and EpochField Mobile 5.1.4 is no exception. Discover the exciting changes we’ve made by reading below.

The products team at Epoch Solutions Group has been busy working on a few new enhancements and updates to EpochField for iOS, Android, and Windows. EpochField 5.1.4 can be found in the Apple App Store, Google Play, and Microsoft App Store today.

Ease of Use

Previously, the app would switch to Pan mode once a tool was closed; now, users can close the tool menu and still make edits on the map, freeing up screen space. Users can now save Operation Layers visibility settings. Map Markup has been improved to allow users to better see and understand the tool’s interface. With this update, users can download multiple files within each region, as well as delete all downloaded data files without encountering any error messages. EpochField Mobile now notifies users when the offline geodatabase syncs successfully.

 

Routing and Geofencing

Our latest updates have made asset management more streamlined and efficient for users. The Identify tool now includes routing functionality, enabling users to quickly locate the desired asset and access directions. Search results are now displayed in order of relevance, and accurately rendered on the map. Geofencing and GPS location updates have been optimized, allowing users to minimize the app without losing progress. Additionally, GPS Breadcrumbs are now limited to the selected work order, while the newly added Compass Navigation feature keeps the user’s location centered on the map during Follow Me mode. Finally, users can utilize Lat/Long results from the Address Search feature for routing purposes and can easily copy and paste the information directly from the app.

Identify and Asset Research

We’ve made several improvements to streamline our search functionality. Users can now seamlessly scroll through search results without the need to update their criteria, and toast messages are now displayed even when the Search Bar is open. We’ve also resolved the issue of objects hidden by Operation Layer options appearing when lassoing assets in Identify, and have corrected the object counts for Asset Search and Identify. To improve the user experience, we’ve added new configuration options that allow users to zoom to the map extent of search results instead of solely focusing on the first result in an Asset Search.

Tracing

Tracing has been enhanced for both performance and ease-of-use. Not only do users experience faster results, the tracing user experience has been upgraded with customizable field ordering and the ability to view multiple types of assets. Additionally, we’ve enhanced the tool’s functionality, allowing users to easily share CSVs generated by the Tracing Tool.

Phone Specific

We’ve made significant improvements to EpochField Mobile to optimize its use on phones and other mobile devices. Phone users will notice that the scale and extent buttons remain visible even when the tool menu is collapsed, and we’ve redesigned the menu to minimize interference with native phone buttons like “Back” or “Home.” The menu now opens at half the height of the phone screen, providing a more streamlined viewing experience. In addition, phone users can now easily access Print Previews, allowing for quick and easy sharing of results.

Feedback and Support

We value your feedback! If you have any questions, suggestions, or experience any issues, please contact our support team at support@epochsg.com

Thank you for your continued support and trust in EpochField mobile. We believe these enhancements will greatly improve your experience. Stay tuned for more exciting developments in the future!

Overcoming the Challenges of Managing Utility Joint Use Assets

The modern world is changing rapidly, and the technologies and infrastructure that support it must evolve alongside it. This is especially true for utility companies, whose infrastructure must keep pace with changing demands and new technology. One area that has become increasingly important for utilities in recent years is joint use asset management.  

Joint use assets refer to the infrastructure components that multiple utility companies share, such as poles, wires, and conduits. They offer a range of benefits for utility companies, including cost savings, increased flexibility, and reduced infrastructure duplication. However, managing joint use assets comes with a unique set of challenges that can significantly impact the efficiency and reliability of the utility network. This article reviews the challenges of joint use assets—including overloaded poles, double poles, unauthorized attachments, conflicting needs, and regulatory compliance issues—and offers viable solutions.

Overloaded and Double Poles: Inventory is Key

Overloaded poles are a common problem with joint use assets, and they occur when too many companies attach their equipment to a single pole, exceeding its weight-bearing capacity. This can cause the pole to lean or even fall, leading to power outages, property damage, and safety hazards. Overloaded poles also make it difficult to perform maintenance and repair tasks, as it can be difficult to identify which company is responsible for the excess weight on the pole. 

Conducting regular inspections and assessments of the poles helps identify any signs of overload, allowing utility companies to proactively address an issue before it leads to a safety hazard or outage. Additionally, utility companies can work together to develop load-sharing agreements to ensure that the weight on each pole is evenly distributed among the companies using the infrastructure.

Double poles are another issue that arises when a utility operates joint use assets. Double poles occur when new poles are installed next to existing poles rather than replacing them, resulting in two or more poles serving the same purpose. Aside from the fact that double poles can be unsightly, they pose a safety hazard and make it difficult to access and maintain the equipment, increasing the risk of power outages and other issues.

One solution to this common joint use asset problem is to conduct a comprehensive inventory of all existing poles and infrastructure to identify where double poles exist, enabling utility companies to prioritize which poles to remove or replace first. Utility companies also can work together to develop joint programs to replace double poles with a single pole that meets the needs of all companies involved.

Policies, Collaboration, and Training Are Essential

Unauthorized attachments are another significant problem for joint use assets. Attaching equipment to joint use assets without proper authorization or approval can create safety hazards, reliability issues, and regulatory compliance problems. Unauthorized attachments can also interfere with the equipment of other utility companies, leading to service disruptions and other problems.

One effective way to reduce or eliminate unauthorized attachments is to develop and enforce clear policies and procedures for attaching equipment to joint use assets, including guidelines for when equipment can be attached, who can approve the attachment, and what equipment is allowed. Utility companies also can use advanced analytics and monitoring tools to identify unauthorized attachments and proactively address them before they become a problem.

Managing joint use assets can also present broader challenges. Conflicting needs are a common problem when multiple companies use the same infrastructure. For example, one company may need to access a pole to install new equipment, while another company may need to perform maintenance on the same pole at the same time. Managing these competing objectives can be a complex and time-consuming process, often requiring significant coordination and communication between the companies involved. 

To resolve conflicting needs for joint use assets, utility companies should develop collaboration tools and processes that allow multiple providers to work together more effectively. These tools can include shared communication channels, such as online portals or chat groups, where companies can coordinate their activities and schedules. Additionally, utilities can develop joint work plans that identify which tasks need to be completed and when, allowing them to better coordinate and schedule their activities.

Regulatory compliance is another area that utility companies must contend with when managing joint use assets. Utilities must comply with a range of regulations and standards, including safety standards, environmental regulations, and industry-specific guidelines, and failure to comply can result in fines, legal liabilities, and damage to the company’s reputation.

To ensure joint assets are managed in a way that complies with applicable regulations, each utility company should develop its own robust compliance program that includes regular audits and assessments to identify any areas of non-compliance. The program also should include training for employees and contractors to ensure they understand the regulations and standards that apply to joint use assets. Additionally, utility companies can work together to develop joint compliance programs that ensure all companies using the infrastructure are meeting the relevant regulations and standards. 

How an Asset Management Platform Can Help

Despite these challenges, joint use assets continue to be an essential part of the utility industry. Given the clear benefits of shared infrastructure, utility companies are finding innovative ways to address the difficulties associated with managing joint use assets.

One way that leading utility companies are successfully managing joint use assets is through the use of an asset management platform like EpochField. With EpochField, utility companies can gain visibility into the condition of joint use assets, such as overloaded and double use poles, along with the real-time situational awareness to manage unauthorized access, ensure safe and reliable power delivery, and meet the regulatory mandates governing the industry.

Highly configurable to meet each utility 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 the system processes new data 
  • Configurable work order forms that are produced automatically based on field mapping data 

Discover how the EpochField platform can transform your utility’s joint use asset management. Schedule a demo today.

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Managing Utility Field Service Digital Transformation into the Next Decade: Featuring Industry Expert Peter Kelly-Detwiler

It’s evident that the utility industry will undergo a significant digital transformation over the next 10 years. How will the convergence of new technologies, new energy sources, and an increasingly complex distribution grid affect utilities in the coming years? And how can you assure your field services teams are prepared to work as safely and efficiently as possible in this rapidly evolving environment?

This was the focus of our recent webinar, Managing Utility Field Service Digital Transformation into the Next Decade. This exclusive conversation, hosted by Epoch Solutions Group founder and CEO James Street, featured Peter Kelly-Detwiler, an acclaimed thought leader in the energy industry and a highly sought speaker, author, and consultant. Peter regularly advises energy industry leaders on the latest trends and how these developments will impact their organizations.

Insights on a Future Filled with Change

During this interactive webinar, Peter and James discussed the tremendous changes on the horizon for the utility industry, how these shifts will affect the work of field services teams, and the tools and technologies that field crews will need in order to operate safely and effectively.

A key topic was the projected impact of the industry’s move toward the “three Ds”— decarbonization, digitalization, and decentralization—three trends that will make the distribution grid increasingly dynamic and complex.

For example, Peter and James reviewed how escalating climate risks are creating greater pressure to improve vegetation management and facilitate the work of out-of-state crews during the increasingly frequent and prolonged weather-related outages. They discussed the ways in which the continued move to solar and other renewable energy sources—along with the rapid adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and the evolution to vehicle-to-grid (V2G) EVs—will make the grid more data intensive and more challenging to manage. And they outlined how these transitions will impact field crews working in low-voltage environments, creating a need for technologies that provide better situational awareness and a more accurate picture of the facts on the ground by integrating local system modeling and real-time updates.

Get More Insights

This engaging webinar offered a glimpse into the future of the distribution grid and what the utility field crews of tomorrow will need in order to complete their jobs efficiently, effectively, and safely. We invite you to download the webinar recording for insights on the trends that are already beginning to impact your utility field crews. 

Schedule a demo to learn how the EpochField mobile workforce management solution can help.

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Industry Outlook 2023: 4 Utility Workforce Management Trends to Watch

The demand for workforce management technologies is growing rapidly, and this has implications for utility companies and their field operations. In fact, according to Grand View Research, the workforce management market was estimated at $6.1 billion in 2019 and is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10% through 2025. Several factors are driving this market growth, notes the research firm, including the demand for “workforce optimization, increasing cloud deployment, and the need to comply with regulatory mandates.” To meet their current and future operational challenges, utility companies can benefit tremendously from leveraging workforce management technologies. Fortunately, a new generation of enterprise-grade field workforce digitization platforms is fast emerging. These solutions are allowing utilities to take full advantage of geospatial field data to inform operational decisions, automate workflows, and enable deep, ongoing visibility into how field operations are unfolding across the service area. To discover just what technological advances are of greatest value to utilities today, Epoch Solutions Group conducted a survey of customers in December of 2022 to learn more about their most pressing challenges, opportunities for the future – and how they plan to apply digitization to sharpen their operational model. Based on customer feedback and other industry sources, we have identified four common operational objectives of utility companies today, trends that are driving technological investments and setting the stage for a digitally transformed tomorrow.

Addressing the Impacts of Climate Change

Climate change is a consequential factor impacting many industries globally. For utility companies, the phenomenon not only presents operational challenges, but it also creates additional safety risks for utility field crew workers and the communities they serve. A recent Accenture survey cited by Forbes bears this out, revealing that utility industry executives believe climate change is a growing problem, and that “utility companies must double-down on their efforts to create technology-enabled resilient systems” in response. A full 95% of utility industry survey respondents believe having “greater adaptability” in their networks is a critical step toward achieving resiliency. The majority of respondents to our own survey agree, pointing also to investments in renewable energy as a top opportunity for 2023 – and both effective vegetation management and meeting environmental/decarbonization targets as among their most notable challenges. To ensure network adaptability going forward, implementing a field workforce digitization platform is a best practice to follow as these solutions enable marked increases in technological scale and flexibility. To track and trace conditions on the ground, including vegetation growth, aging infrastructure, and other factors that pose environmental and safety risks, utilities need an advanced field workforce digitization platform built to capture vast amounts of data for dissemination, analysis, and decisioning. To combat one of the most dangerous impacts of climate change – the increasing prevalence of wildfires – utilities need to focus on modernizing their vegetation management practices. With a feature-rich, highly automated field operations platform in place, utility operations teams can leverage real-time field data to track the growth patterns of vegetation more accurately and then take the steps necessary to protect their infrastructure assets from dry brush and other fire hazards. The ability to track field data at a granular level also allows utility companies to respond faster and more strategically when adverse weather conditions arise, including devastating winter storms and hurricanes that can cause widespread outages impacting entire geographic regions. The ability to trace and track the condition of assets and their surrounding terrain also enables utility companies to demonstrate their compliance with environmental and safety regulations – and to continuously improve business practices in ways that better protect consumers, structures, wildlife, and the environment going forward.

Automating Workflows for Better Productivity

Another top operational challenge noted by our survey respondents is the industry’s reliance on outdated systems and infrastructure. Legacy systems that have evolved over time simply lack the extensibility utilities require today to meet fast-advancing service demands. To unlock the power of their data, utilities need the ability to integrate systems and resources from cloud and back-office technologies to the mobile devices deployed in the hands of field crew workers. A modernized, seamlessly integrated enterprise, built on workforce digitization technology, gives utilities the connectivity they need to share data across all their applications, including the GIS solutions they rely on operationally and enterprise-wide business applications from companies like Oracle and SAP. Seamless data sharing across the continuum enables greater visibility into operational processes and their impacts, better collaboration among teams, and a more informed approach to field operations management overall. Consider also the industry’s aging workforce, a dynamic that is impacting utility companies on many levels. In fact, analysts predict that 50% of the industry’s workforce will retire or otherwise exit the profession in the near term, leaving utilities shorthanded in several key areas – from field crew technicians and administrative dispatchers to back-office service teams and engineers. To fill in these vitally important skill gaps, it is essential for utilities to deploy technologies that enable automation of workflows and processes. By automating routine tasks, utility companies can ensure that new staff members and contractors have the technological support they need to increase their productivity and keep systems and assets running optimally in the future. The most advanced digitization solutions on the market today can facilitate automation in many key areas, from scheduling and dispatching crews to data collection, entry, and analysis. These types of feature-rich solutions built for automation, connectivity, and scale will allow your company to meet staffing challenges head-on by digitizing repeatable tasks, enabling universal data access and sharing, and keeping personnel resources focused on the high-level, strategic initiatives needed to promote operational efficiency, safety, security, and sustainability.

Meeting the Expectations of Digital-First Consumers

The digital expectations of consumers today are higher than ever. Companies like Amazon and Google have taught consumers well that they can expect the exact information, products, and services they need on demand. This dynamic has widespread implications, and utility companies are taking note: our survey results point to customer satisfaction as a notable challenge facing utilities today. No longer is it acceptable to make modern consumers wait at home for hours for a service call – or to repeat themselves over and over again to different service reps when requesting a repair. Customers today expect data to be readily available to everyone involved. That means they expect to be updated, frequently, on when crews will arrive – and when they do, customers expect crews to know exactly what needs to be done – and to be fully equipped to fix the issue at hand. With an advanced field workforce digitization framework implemented, your utility company can capture, synch, and share real-time field data with employees and customers alike for expedited response times, better communication, and more rewarding consumer experiences.

Turning Field Data Into Actionable Insights

Data management is another major challenge cited by our survey respondents – and for good reason. Field data today is streaming into utility company systems and applications at an unprecedented rate, as the number of drones, sensors, smart meters, satellites, LiDAR systems, mobile devices, and digital cameras proliferate across both populated urban settings and remote locales. The ability to digitize, standardize, store, and analyze the volumes of field data utilities receive is transforming the way field operations are managed. With deep real-time visibility into operational data, utility back-office administrators can make more strategic, timely field crew deployment decisions that ensure the performance of infrastructure assets. Going forward, advances in high-performance computing and digitization technologies promise to help utility companies leverage their data streams in exciting new ways. As new, faster, more powerful hardware and software solutions become available, utilities will be able to advance their enterprise infrastructure to better leverage AI, machine learning, and other data-intensive applications used to run predictive models. Proactive analysis of utility field data will prove instrumental going forward in critical decision-making processes related to crew staffing, scheduling, and dispatching, and to future investments in technology and equipment.

Choosing the Right Provider

Technologies designed to track field assets in real time, deliver universal data access, scale operational workflows, and automate key processes are already helping utility companies achieve dramatic increases in responsiveness, efficiency, and service uptime. And we are only scratching the surface of what utility workforce digitization solutions will enable in the future. To ensure your investments fully deliver on their promise going forward, be sure to partner with a technology provider that can help you design a comprehensive, long-term plan for your infrastructure – and that offers the development, deployment, and service resources needed to implement new workforce digitization and automation technologies as they emerge. With population growth exploding across many areas of our nation and demand for energy resources increasing accordingly, your utility operations teams will be expected to perform at ever-higher levels going forward. Having the technological resources in place now to support this paradigm will allow you to advance your service levels to meet future operational demands, ensuring that your customers have the safe, reliable, affordable energy they need to power their daily lives for years to come. Epoch Solutions Group can help you meet the challenges ahead in 2023 and beyond. Contact us for a free demonstration of our EpochField platform utilizing GIS technology today.
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