Powel-MiniMax has announced that Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative (ILEC), Estherville, Iowa, has successfully deployed Powel-MiniMax’s Utility Decision Support Platform (UDSP). ILEC’s first two UDSP modules, StakeOut® and GIS, will provide a single platform for seamless field-to-office work order integration.

UDSP offers an integrated platform, closing the gap between the information collected in the field and the decisions made in the office. Its scalable design enables utilities to customize a solution that meets current business needs and then integrate additional modules later to further automate operational processes and connect to enterprise-wide systems. Each UDSP database is configured to the utility’s specific needs, allowing for customized access to all critical business information.

“UDSP's StakeOut and GIS modules illustrate the value in maintaining up-to-date field design and service order changes in a single database,” said Corey Maple, CEO of Powel-MiniMax. “Seamless integration and a consistent user interface across the entire platform enable users to achieve huge productivity gains by acting on information quickly and effortlessly.”

“Essentially, we want to stake a job in the field and move the data into our GIS maps automatically,” said Steve Erickson, ILEC supervisor of operations administration. “With StakeOut and the GIS module working together, we will accomplish this goal. The effects on productivity, cost-efficiency, and customer service will be considerable.”

According to Erickson, linking field design and GIS will immediately streamline work order processes that rely on manual data entry.

“Every time one of our crews sends in a service order, each department reviews the document, extracts relevant information, and re-enters the data into an appropriate application,” Erickson said. “Without an integrated solution, there is no other way for utilities to distribute this information. By running our field design and GIS from a single platform, we can save several steps and reduce the risk of data entry errors.”

Fewer errors will drive significant cost savings for ILEC. With the previous system, if an error was detected — for example, if the same transformer was listed for two accounts 40 miles apart — it could take days to resolve. A field crew had to revisit the site and confirm the details. Plus, field crew schedules are determined weekly so new requests can sit in the queue for several days.

“With the Powel-MiniMax UDSP solution, we can virtually eliminate these problems and spend far less time cleaning up our data,” Erickson said. “We will also be able to process billing much faster and spend more time responding to customer needs — both of which will significantly improve service levels.”

Maple agreed. “Ultimately, our solutions help utilities make operational improvements that enhance customer service,” he said. “This gives our customers a strong competitive advantage.”

After the GIS module is fully implemented, Erickson and other ILEC executives will consider adding business functionality, such as Engineering Analysis and Outage Management, to their platform. UDSP uses a single asset database that allows engineering analysis calculations to be completed much faster than ever before. It also offers modules for asset management, outage management, planning and project management, work order management, Web viewing, and maintenance.

“Ideally, we want to be able to move field data into any application, quickly, easily, and accurately,” Erickson said. “We like the fact that the UDSP platform gives us the option to expand our functionality one step at a time.”