The Lisbon operations (DRCL) area is part of the Portuguese distribution utility EDP Distribuição, comprising an area of 2,896 sq km (1,118 sq miles) with a population of some 2.7 million inhabitants. Although the Lisbon operational area only represents 3% of the Portuguese mainland, it supplies 28% of the customers who consume 27% of the total electric energy consumption.

EDP Distribuição has launched Project OMDRCL in Lisbon with the main objective to ensure customers receive a high reliability of supply and improved customer service in terms of energy metering. This requires the need to optimize the capabilities of the existing network with its new developments and improved management processes, which also include sustainability and environmental control programs. This project satisfies the growth in energy demand and the drive for improvement by addressing network equipment, workforce management, information systems, automated metering and microgeneration.

EDP, operational efficiency

Workforce Management

To improve operational efficiency, EDP Distribuição is implementing workforce management (WFM) to replace the less efficient processes in commercial services, network operations and the follow-up on network incidents. The utility now uses Internet-based systems to assign work to field teams on site. This new methodology is gradually replacing voice communications and former paper-supported processes, and offers the advantage of retaining digital records of all communication exchanges.

Work programs are managed from the office, so the office-based team retains the authority and ability to issue individual work assignments for special or urgent tasks. The system also allows a work package assignment to be issued for immediate action or for the following day.

All field teams have a personal digital assistant (PDA) with a specially developed application that receives work tasks from the office. These tasks contain detailed information of the work needed as well as additional data held in the corporative systems that might be useful for any complementary job.

As tasks are performed, the team achievement is updated via the PDA device, according to predefined stages. The updated information is received and saved in the office, so all the information and updates are immediately recorded on all corporative systems. This reduces the possibility of errors that can occur within manual updating systems, and it allows call center operators to provide customers with detailed and accurate information on the progress of any specific field operation.

EDP, optimize operational efficiency

The New Way

The WFM-developed software, together with the PDA being a user-friendly interface, has helped to reduce major errors in corporative systems updating. Prior to the WFM, these tasks were done by the field teams, and corporative systems were updated manually. The WFM has increased efficiency, as it is now easier and faster to manage teams and to keep the corporate systems automatically updated. It also allows quality improvements and a centralized control system from which efficiency is measured. This previously almost impossible task is now possible because all the information is saved in the system, and every stage of a process can be thoroughly analyzed.

The WFM-PDA also includes a GPS navigation tool to plan itineraries. To increase efficiency, the navigation tool includes a record of all the medium-/low-voltage (MV/LV) transformer cabinet locations. It includes a fast-response facility for urgent tasks so teams can be managed in a more flexible way, without the need to consider whether they are familiar with a particular geographical area.

EDP, optimize operational efficiency

The rapid response provided with WFM is also partially responsible for the improvement of MV network reliability measured by the main fault outage performance indicator: TIEPI (Equivalent Interruption Time for Power Installed [minutes of lost load]). The quality measured by TIEPI is defined by the effects of outages verified in a geographic area in a certain period of time. This requires consideration of the number of outages, their duration and the load lost due to the outage related to the total installed capacity for the geographic area. The decrease in TIEPI from 2008 through 2013 was 52%.

Corporative systems support all the work developed and undertaken within EDP Distribuição; therefore, systems integration is a valuable tool to improve the overall efficiency. Together with WFM, there are some other systems that are extremely important in the operations rollout.

EDP, optimize operational efficiency