Knoxville Utilities Board has selected the mobile work tool, VegWorks, from Powel, Inc., to provide maps for foresters and tree crews in the field, manage internal and external communications, and boost efficiency within its existing vegetation management program. VegWorks is part of Powel’s WorkStudio suite of mobile work management tools for planning, prioritizing and documenting utility work.

KUB provides electric, water, gas and wastewater services to more than 439,000 customers in the Greater Knoxville area including Knoxville and six surrounding counties. The electric service area alone spans more than 680 square miles. Tree pruning is critical for its service reliability. In 2010, the KUB Board of Commissioners released its response to the Tree Trim Policy Review Panel’s Final Report detailing recommendations for the utility’s manual vegetation management system. The findings prompted a search for an automated vegetation management application that would interface with KUB’s geographic information system (GIS) and its customer information system (CIS).

“We wanted this system to be able to manage the whole program,” said Dale Maddox, project manager for the implementation of VegWorks. “As we looked at our internal enterprise application, we sketched out our functional requirements that were centered around communication and efficiency. We also wanted foresters to have a handheld device in the field so they could walk from parcel to parcel as they did their preplanning.”

When implemented the VegWorks system will provide the foresters with the capability to use a tablet PC in the field to plot tree locations, describe pruning instructions, and capture customer comments and requests. Job packets, containing detailed pruning instructions as well as a graphical map, will then be printed for tree crews, or delivered electronically through VegWorks. After the completion of vegetation works, the system will generate a random sample of work to be audited to ensure performance quality.

The system is scheduled to go into production in fall 2011.