PES Surges Ahead with use of Distribution Design Studio

PES was an early adopter of Distribution Design Studio (DDS), software from Itron used to improve the distribution design process and reduce the redundancy of construction drawings and staking sheets both in the field and in the office. Further building on this effort, in the best interest of its customers, PES began looking for ways to leverage its existing technologies with DDS, helping to keep prices low—an ultimate benefit to its ratepayers.

“We didn’t want any of our systems to be islands. We wanted to draw on the power of GPS, but also enhance productivity by utilizing information from our GIS. Our ultimate goal was a more seamless process from design to development to database,” says Eddie Jackson, vice president and chief operations officer for PES.

The utility’s initial purchase of Distribution Staker, the base application to Itron Distribution Design Studio, provided a flexible platform to accommodate the inevitable changes to utility workflows and design objectives. Distribution Design Studio offers several enhancement modules that integrate seamlessly with Distribution Staker and can be deployed seamlessly where needed without impacting a designer’s ability to share jobs and design information.

The first module selected by PES was the GPS Module. It immediately addressed a number of the utility’s concerns. Says Richard Kelley, a PES engineer, “Prior to use of the GPS Module, we lacked real-time coordinates in the field and were not able to produce accurate line designs on-site. We really needed to improve the precision of design data captured in the field—the Itron product helped to accomplish this.”

The utility’s second addition to Distribution Staker came in the form of Itron’s Mobile Asset View Module. The module makes GIS asset and land base data available inside the Distribution Staker base application for increased design accuracy and efficiency. Prior to its implementation, PES employees responsible for staking relied on hand drawings that did not fully account for realistic land base features such as curvatures in roads, driveways, etc. Graphically, things were getting skewed and it was leading to excess time in the field and inaccurate material quantities.

“The Mobile Asset View Module has allowed us to overlay aerial maps and maps from the county over our GIS data. We’ve corrected our existing GIS information and it has resulted in a true representation of field information. The resulting accuracy allows us to be more proficient in the field,” says David Kelley, director of GIS for the utility.

With introduction of the two modules, Pulaski Electric System is enjoying the benefits of technological advancements more than ever before. “The results of using the modules have been not only immediate, but promising,” says Jackson. With the GPS Module, workflow for PES is finally streamlined and employees now rely on a more accurate data model of what’s in the field. The utility is now able to track its materials including poles, transformers, light poles, secondary poles, etc. Additionally, there was immediate cost savings associated with reduced trips to the field. With an average of 30 designs per month, Jackson estimates the savings to be in the thousands.

With the Mobile Asset View Module, PES significantly reduced its trips on bad poles. Engineers now bring up the pole in Asset View and turn it without ever making a trip. This not only reduces expenses related to having to roll a truck, there are financial gains associated with increased productivity—equaling savings again in the thousands.

Recently the Module allowed PES to do something that has never been done at the utility—a full system inventory collection. Aside from engineering; accounting is thrilled to balance the books against tangible information. Previously relying on estimates, PES deduces that its growing estimates were unjustified. This has resulted in a further dividend for the utility.

Going forward, since the modules have been so well received, PES is exploring purchase of Itron’s WMS/MMS/CIS Integration Module to meet its work-order management system (WMS) integration goals. This will also enable the utility to discontinue its manual entry of materials while automatically receiving material, labor and work order updates from its customer information system (CIS) and seamlessly uploading design information back to its CIS.

“When we first explored Distribution Design Studio, in its pre-release stage, it was already neck-and-neck with its competitors in terms of functionality,” says Jackson. “Our predictions about DDS eventually being head and shoulders above other products turned out to be true. It is clear to us that the Itron name represents something special; Distribution Design Studio is no exception.”