The rollout of ArcGIS to over 5,000 employees has helped to work more productively, leading to cost savings of £35 million a year.

Re-energising a business with fully integrated GIS systems

National Grid has rolled out Esri’s ArcGIS platform as part of a business transformation programme that is expected to lead to cost savings of around £35 million per year. Up to 5,000 employees now use ArcGIS to work more productively, improve operational efficiency and make better informed decisions.

– Gas Distribution –


Case study – Gas


The Customer

National Grid plc is one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world. It owns and operates gas distribution assets, which deliver energy to millions of homes and businesses right across Great Britain and the North East USA.

National Grid’s Gas Distribution business has replaced 40 business systems with just four – one of which is ArcGIS – to simplify and optimise its systems landscape

The organisation is saving time and improving its overall efficiency in areas including network design and data capture in the field

The integration of GIS with SAP eliminates data duplication and makes more accurate information available to support decision making

The Challenge

In an industry that is heavily monitored and increasingly competitive, the judgments of the regulator are of utmost importance. Ofgem’s comparator ratings of National Grid’s Gas Distribution business had fallen significantly behind those of its UK peers. Furthermore, National Grid’s customer satisfaction statistics in this division were also lower than both its own expectations and the industry average.

These factors together provided National Grid with compelling evidence of the need for change in its Gas Distribution business. The company wanted to urgently improve its standing with Ofgem, but it also had to start to prepare for the new challenges it would face in the future.

Pete Massey, Director of the company’s Gas Distribution Transformation Programme, explains: “We were not performing as strongly as our peers in the industry, but this wasn’t our only concern. We saw that the world was changing to be much more customer focused, more innovative and cost-conscious. This new world that we were moving into was going to be even more challenging and would stretch our capabilities to the limit, so we knew that we had to transform.”

“ Most of our activities are location based, so we could see we needed to get more of our processes on digital maps and make GIS capabilities accessible to employees right across the business

Pete Massey – Director of Gas Distribution Transformation Programme, National Grid

The Solution

As a core part of its business transformation, National Grid took the radical decision to reduce its business systems from forty to four to create a simplified, standardised and integrated systems landscape. National Grid had been using Esri Geographic Information System (GIS) solutions for many years, and this was the only solution carried forward to the new IT environment. Here, Esri’s ArcGIS software was integrated with the SAP Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system, the SAP Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) and Syclo mobile applications.

The organisation recognised that Esri’s ArcGIS technology was the most intuitive way for users to work with network asset information, so it decided to make mapping technology accessible to the majority of its 5,000 UK employees, including its customer call centre staff and mobile engineers. “Most of our activities are location based, so we could see we needed to get more of our processes on digital maps and make GIS capabilities accessible to employees right across the business,” Massey says.

“ We have reduced a complex nine-step business process to six integrated stages, which has improved our efficiency significantly

Pete Massey – Director of Gas Distribution Transformation Programme, National Grid

Benefits

National Grid has succeeded in fundamentally changing the way that it works. It has redesigned many of its most critical business processes, to significantly improve cost efficiency and employee productivity. National Grid estimates that its entire transformation programme will deliver a cost saving of £35 million per year. “The use of GIS is a key part of this saving and provides new insights into our asset and business performance,” Massey says.

Previously, National Grid created designs for network extensions and replacements on paper and then manually generated the corresponding work orders. Now, engineers design new networks directly on maps in ArcGIS, and the work orders are produced automatically from these digital designs. “We have reduced a complex nine-step business process to six integrated stages, which improves our efficiency,” says Massey. “Our new integrated process also enables us to improve the accuracy of our cost estimates and cost tracking, create more precise network designs, make planned network changes more visible to the entire business and reduce the likelihood of manual errors.”

The use of ArcGIS on portable computers enables National Grid’s mobile engineers to locate assets and jobs much more easily and work more productively. If the ‘as-built’ infrastructure differs from the network plan, data capture technicians can easily mark up any changes on the asset map while in the field. These changes are sent automatically to a central quality assurance team and, from there, asset updates are fed directly into SAP. “The whole process is much slicker and a lot more efficient,” says Massey.

The integration of GIS with SAP eliminates data duplication and inconsistency and makes more accurate asset information accessible to support decision making. Highly intuitive, the GIS design solutions and simpler business processes have been a hit with employees.

“ The whole process is much slicker and a lot more efficient

Pete Massey – Director of Gas Distribution Transformation Programme, National Grid

The Future

National Grid is now considering the creation of online mapping solutions and GISbased ‘apps’, enabling consumers to more easily check the status of works in their neighbourhoods, book appointments and report faults. These new customer services, together with the efficiency and process improvements already achieved, are expected to lead to higher Ofgem rankings, stronger performance against industry peers and rising customer satisfaction.

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