Category Archives: Gas

National Grid: Gas Distribution

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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Wales & West Utilities

Equipped for future efficiency with corporate-wide GIS

As part of a wide-ranging programme of IT transformation, Wales & West Utilities installed Esri’s ArcGIS platform, gaining a single, accurate view of assets along 34,000 km of gas pipelines. Integrated with SAP applications, ArcGIS is contributing to multi-million pound efficiency savings.


Case study – Utilities


The Customer

Wales & West Utilities is a regulated gas distribution business with around 34,000 km of gas distribution pipelines located in Wales and the South West of England. Covering a sixth of the UK, Wales & West Utilities serves an area with a population of 7.4 million.

ArcGIS has facilitated the creation of new streamlined business processes in areas such as ‘design and build’

The availability of more accurate, up-to-date information supports high level decision making and enhances reporting

The organisation can now more easily share information with third parties, such as other utility companies to improve public safety

The Challenge

Wales & West Utilities was founded in 2005, when a consortium acquired the gas network for Wales and the West Country from National Grid Transco. Initially, the newly autonomous utility rented IT systems from its former owner, but it was keen to be independent as soon as possible.

It set about a huge programme of IT investment. “GIS was seen as a mission critical system that we needed to put in from the outset, to replace functionality provided by National Grid,” explains Phil Pike, Director of IT & Procurement.

However, the company didn’t just want to replicate the National Grid systems, it wanted to streamline processes enabling it to operate more efficiently. “From an IT systems perspective, we were starting with a blank piece of paper,” says Pike. “This gave us an opportunity to start from scratch with streamlined and centralised systems that would minimise our total cost of IT ownership.”

The company recognised that it would be more cost effective to have one GIS for the entire organisation and searched for a solution to meet the needs of its entire business. “Virtually everything that we do requires an understanding of where our pipes and other assets are located,” explains Pike. “We felt that it was important for us to be able to make clear, accurate and up-to-date information available throughout our organisation in a graphical and user-friendly format.”

“ ArcGIS is an integral part of our business

Phil Pike – Director of IT & Procurement

The Solution

Wales & West Utilities selected Esri’s ArcGIS Server solution. “We wanted an off-the-shelf product that was tried and tested in the gas sector,” says Pike. “We had aggressive timescales for implementing the new GIS solution, so strong gas industry experience and existing gas-specific functionality were extremely important for us.”

Wales & West Utilities gained a single joined-up view of its business assets and operations; easily accessible to desktop, intranet and field based users. It is now possible for accurate asset information to be shared easily between teams. For example, a designer in the new connections business can see which pipes the maintenance team are planning to repair or replace. This helps to cost and plan extensions to the gas network. Customer service teams can view accurate maps of pipelines to help them respond to customer enquiries. The company can react quickly to emergency calls and easily identify precise locations of leaks and outages improving public safety

ArcGIS Server is also delivering innovative new functionality to support network design. Designers can create plans for new connections and replacement pipelines directly within the central GIS. “If we didn’t have this integrated design and build capability, much of this process would be done manually on paper,” explains Nick Hancock, Senior Business Analyst. “The plans would then have to be digitised after the new pipes had been laid, which takes much longer.”

ArcGIS Server has been incorporated into the company’s wider IT environment. Wales & West Utilities uses SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for its back office systems and has integrated a number of key processes across the two solutions. “ArcGIS and SAP are tightly coupled,” says Pike. “The flow of information between the two systems is very effective.”

“ We now have a single, common view of our asset information, in a graphical format, and this creates operational efficiencies across multiple different areas of our business

Phil Pike – Director of IT & Procurement

Benefits

The availability of centralised, up-to-date asset information has led to the creation of new streamlined business processes, and the new GIS-enabled design and build capabilities have contributed to tangible time and cost savings.

“We now have a single, common view of our asset information, in a graphical format, and this creates operational efficiencies across multiple different areas of our business,” says Pike. “The deployment of a centralised GIS solution formed a key part of our business improvement programme. This IT transformation programme was seen as a key business enabler and has contributed to overall efficiency savings worth several million pounds.”

In the company’s management and administrative functions, improved availability of up-todate data enhances reporting and supports high level decision making. ArcGIS is used to prepare and present information for regulatory compliance and health and safety audits.

ArcGIS has made it easier for the organisation to share information with third parties, such as other utility companies. “If a local electricity or water provider is undertaking essential repairs on a certain street, it will need to know exactly where our pipes are to ensure the safety of its engineers and the public,” explains Hancock. “Because designs are created in ArcGIS and there is no time delay between pipes being laid and maps being digitised, we can provide maps to third parties with more confidence in their accuracy.”

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Wales & West Utilities: Design & Build

Pioneering a new approach to design & build

The gas distribution business Wales & West Utilities used Esri’s ArcGIS platform to radically transform its paper-based process for designing and building new network assets for customers. The use of GIS has significantly improved the efficiency of its operations, while also giving it more accurate and up-to-date asset information.

– Design & Build –


Case study – Utilities


The Customer

Formerly part of National Grid, Wales & West Utilities (WWU) is a regulated gas distribution business with around 34,000 km of gas distribution pipelines, covering a sixth of the UK, and serving 7.4 million people. Every year, WWU repairs and replaces over 400 kilometres of gas pipeline to ensure its safety and reliability. In addition, they actively compete with other infrastructure providers for new connection contracts.

ArcGIS cuts out months of delay in some processes, creating substantial improvements in operational efficiency

Plans and network changes are entered directly into ArcGIS, making more accurate and up-to-date asset information accessible to the entire business

Digital network designs are attached to customer records, helping the business respond more effectively to customer enquiries

The Challenge

Maintenance and new connections use similar design and build processes, so WWU wanted to improve competitiveness and efficiency by streamlining these processes, building on a strong foundation of integrated systems.

Phil Pike, Head of IT explains: “One of our main goals was to reengineer the business processes that we had inherited from National Grid and create more automated, end-to -end processes. We saw GIS as an important tool in helping us to achieve this goal.”

Paper-based processes were slow and prone to dual entry, mismatched data, poor data quality and delays. Designers drew new networks and any changes in the field – such as rerouting around trees – were marked by hand and sent to head office to be digitised and loaded onto a GIS solution. “As a result, our asset information was always six months out of date. This was something that we were committed to changing,” observes Pike.

An integrated approach, facilitated by GIS, had the potential to improve customer service and the accuracy of quotes, in an increasingly competitive market.

“ ArcGIS has enabled us to improve both the quality of our information and our operational efficiency

Phil Pike – Head of IT

The Solution

WWU has achieved significant improvements in operational efficiency with its integrated approach to Design and Build, created in partnership with Esri UK industry specialists, using the ArcGIS Server platform.

Designers now enter their plans directly into the central GIS, giving all staff a clear, accurate and up-to-date view of the current and future network. “Using the ArcGIS design layer is like putting a piece of acetate over a hard copy map and marking the new pipe route on that”, explains Nick Hancock, Senior Business Analyst. “The designs created in ArcGIS become the graphical representation of the work that we are going to undertake. When the repair work or new installation is completed, we simply select ‘adopt new’ in the system and the replacement designs become actual plans. All our central records are immediately updated.”

To quote for new connections, staff scan housing development drawings and geo-reference new properties. Designers can easily identify the nearest mains and digitally design the new pipe infrastructure, which can be automatically exported into network sizing software to accurately define the dimensions and attributes of the new scheme.

Integrating ArcGIS with the SAP back office system creates further efficiencies: when plans are approved, ArcGIS automatically triggers the creation of assets and work orders in SAP. Time-saving and intuitive features, such as favourites lists with pre-set attributes for common tasks, ensure the system is easy for users.

“ We can effectively provide standard quotes for non-standard installations

Nick Hancock – Senior Business Analyst

Benefits

The greatest benefit of the integrated approach is the undeniable improvement in operational efficiency.

“We used to have to go into the back office system to create each separate work order,” recalls Hancock. “The interfaces with SAP save an enormous amount of time and effort. As soon as we hit the ‘plan approved’ button, all the necessary work orders and central records required by our back office systems are automatically created in SAP.”

Because plans are entered directly into the central GIS system, there is no need for plans to be digitised after the work is carried out: maps are more accurate and up-to-date. “The new process is much closer to real time and cuts out months of delay”, says Pike.

New connection quotes are delivered quickly, consistently and professionally. “We can effectively provide standard quotes for non-standard installations,” says Hancock.

The company’s customers also benefit from the new Design and Build process. WWU can attach electronic copies of plans to records in its customer relationship management (CRM) system. “Everyone has visibility of the design and this improves our ability to provide good customer service,” says Hancock. “As soon as a project is approved, we can very quickly activate the job in the system and offer a customer appointment at an early date.”

WWU plans to continue to extend this integrated approach to include mobile ArcGIS for field engineers, so that the Design and Build process becomes truly end-to-end.

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Northern Gas Networks

Delivering accurate address data for a smarter, faster service

To improve the quality and consistency of address data within its business, Northern Gas Networks (NGN) selected Esri’s LocatorHub solution. It now has a single, centralised source of address information, which helps improve its operational efficiency right across the organisation.


Case study – Gas Networks


The Customer

Northern Gas Networks (NGN) distributes gas to 2.6m homes and businesses across the north of England. Its 37,000km network extends south from the Scottish border, covering a significant rural area as well as a number of large cities.

NGN has been consistently measured by Ofgem as the most cost-efficient of the eight gas distribution networks in the UK.

Employees in all departments now consult the same accurate source of information to support daily decision making

LocatorHub helps NGN rapidly locate problems in emergency situations and provide timely, up-to-date information to customers

NGN uses LocatorHub to ensure notifications are sent to the correct addresses when potentially disruptive works are planned nearby

The Challenge

Good quality address data is vital for utility companies. Inaccuracies or duplication in address information can seriously impact all sorts of activities, from emergency response times to informing residents of planned works.

However, getting access to accurate data can be challenging. Because the typical utility firm has multiple address datasets across the business, there is a greater risk of duplicated entries. The lack of centralisation also makes finding address data time-consuming, hampering staff efficiency. And given the ever-changing nature of the data – as new roads are laid, buildings are constructed, and house numbers are changed to names – it’s easy for inaccuracies to creep in every day.

The need for a robust process for address management is something that NGN has understood for years. Its network covers not only two of the six largest conurbations in the UK – West Yorkshire and Tyneside – but also an area with the lowest population density outside of Scotland. This mix of dense urban areas and highly remote rural populations makes it vital for NGN to have accurate address data, to keep network maintenance and management as efficient and cost-effective as possible.

That’s why NGN relies on Esri UK’s LocatorHub platform.

“ LocatorHub ensures we have accurate addresses for everyone, and helps us to plan the most fast and efficient drop route

Pete Crosier – GIS Data Integrity Assistant, NGN

The Solution

LocatorHub is a powerful and flexible address management solution. It gives utilities centralised access to any and all datasets they want to use, from public data from providers such as Ordnance Survey, to their own sets of addresses, roads, network assets, points of interest and more. This creates a ‘single point of truth’ for all location information within the business.

Since 2003, LocatorHub has been the central, accurate repository for all address information across NGN. “Planning, emergency management, customer care, network maintenance, our technicians in the field – every department consults the same, accurate set of data to make decisions daily, which helps us to stay efficient,” explains Pete Crosier, GIS Data Integrity Assistant for NGN.

Importantly, the system gives every location a set of coordinates, to ensure pinpoint accuracy. It also constantly cleanses address data, correcting inaccuracies and removing any duplicates. And it can be embedded into other applications, making it a seamless part of a company’s business processes.

At NGN, LocatorHub is used to find the precise location of key business assets – from depots, to customers, to pipes. And it’s very easy to use; the vast majority of staff refer to the location information via a simple browser-based utility viewer, which lets them search for the information they want using coordinates, standard address formats such as postcode or via asset type or code.

“ When we first implemented LocatorHub, we didn’t know how powerful it was and how much we would use it. But it’s become absolutely central to everything we do

Pete Crosier – GIS Data Integrity Assistant, NGN

Benefits

Thanks to the accurate address data in LocatorHub, NGN is equipped to perform a whole range of tasks more efficiently across the business.

This includes managing planned works under the Iron Mains Replacement Programme. NGN needs to replace over 500km of pipe in its network every year, and informing residents of these street works is a regulatory requirement. Sending them to the wrong places or missing residences altogether, however, can result in hefty fines. “LocatorHub ensures we have accurate addresses for everyone, and helps us to plan the most fast and efficient drop route,” says Pete.

Accurate address data is also vital in the event of an emergency. Information that is duplicated or incorrect can seriously hamper response times, or at worst compromise the safety of residents. “If there’s a gas leak, we’ll typically need to turn off a whole estate. Using the data from LocatorHub, we rapidly locate the problem and have all the facts ready for any customers who may call in. We also know straight away if there’s a vulnerable person in the area who will need to be communicated with separately,” confirms Pete.

LocatorHub also helps field staff work more efficiently. “A member of staff might call up to locate something like a pipe or a manhole cover. They’ll typically be working on a restricted laptop, so they won’t be able to access this information themselves,” he explains. “All they need to do is provide a loose description of where it should be – perhaps ‘outside number seven Smith Street’. Through LocatorHub, our internal team can explain exactly what assets are in the area and how to reach them. This helps field staff get to work quickly.”

Importantly, LocatorHub gives NGN the reassurance that ever-changing address data will stay accurate long into the future. “Say we add a new-build connection, for example. It will start as a plot, will later be given a house number, and eventually it’ll have a postcode,” explains Pete. “Because LocatorHub continually cleanses the data, we never have to worry about any old references staying in the system and causing trouble down the line.”

Thanks to regular monthly support from Esri UK, NGN is always discovering new things that LocatorHub can be used for. Pete concludes: “When we first implemented LocatorHub, we didn’t know how powerful it was and how much we would use it. But it’s become absolutely central to everything we do.”

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Energy Saving Trust

Improving the effectiveness of energy efficiency schemes

In a highly ambitious project, the Energy Saving Trust used Esri GIS technology to consolidate and analyse data on all 27 million homes in the UK. It gained a unique understanding of the energy efficiency status of every individual address and is now using this insight to help governments and commercial organisations implement energy saving schemes at more properties, more cost effectively than before.

The Customer

Passionate about improving energy efficiency in the UK, the Energy Saving Trust advises individuals and households on the best ways to reduce energy bills, conserve water and minimise carbon emissions. It also works with government, local authorities and commercial organisations to help them improve the effectiveness of their sustainable energy programmes.

The Energy Saving Trust integrated GIS with its existing IBM Cognos BI system to identify properties most likely to benefit from green energy initiatives

Local councils, energy companies and commercial organisations can now reduce their marketing costs and improve the success of their schemes, by targeting only qualifying properties

Local authorities in Scotland use the GIS portal to identify homes potentially affected by fuel poverty and put measures in place to alleviate suffering

The Challenge

Across the UK there are in excess of 27 million homes, a large proportion of which were built long before the availability of modern insulation materials, efficient heating appliances and domestic energy generation systems. If the owners of these properties were to retrofit loft or cavity insulation, upgrade their boilers or install solar panels, for example, they could not only lower their energy bills, but also reduce carbon emissions, benefitting the environment as a whole.

Many different organisations – from central government and local authorities to energy suppliers – are actively engaged in promoting energy efficiency measures to home owners. However, the Energy Saving Trust observed that these energy campaigns were rarely informed by an accurate understanding of the types of homes prevalent in specific locations and the best measures to install in each home. Consequently, information about solar panels was frequently mass marketed to all homes in an area, rather than to selected homes with south facing roofs, for example.

This problem stemmed from two specific challenges: firstly there was no single database of accurate home data, covering all of the UK; and secondly the limited amount of data that was available was not easily accessible to the people on the ground, who were implementing energy saving programmes. “Decisions frequently weren’t based on evidence, which can lead to the inefficient delivery of programmes, increased costs and, in some cases, unwarranted hassle for consumers,” comments Will Rivers, data insight manager at the Energy Saving Trust.

“ In some cases, as much as two thirds of the cost of delivering an energy efficiency scheme can be attributed to identifying and locating the right types of home. By reducing this cost of delivery, we can help organisations to deliver more energy saving measures into the UK housing stock in a more cost effective way

Will Rivers – data insight manager at the Energy Saving Trust

The Solution

The Energy Saving Trust set about consolidating data on every home in the UK, including property type, size, age, wall construction, loft insulation, glazing, tenure and the sociodemographic profile of the householder. Then, the organisation used geographic information system (GIS) technology from Esri UK to work out the likely roof orientation of each property and its suitability for solar panels; measure the distance of each home from mains gas and supplies of biomass fuel; and analyse the potential for wind-energy. Through this sophisticated use of GIS, the Energy Saving Trust gained valuable knowledge about every single home in the UK and successfully built up a comprehensive database with energy-related data never captured before.

“Esri technology in combination with Ordnance Survey data has enabled us to target the installation of a number of sustainable energy technologies in a far more accurate way so that we can work to increase take up of these measures,” Rivers says.

In addition, the Energy Saving Trust engaged Esri UK’s partner Assimil8 to integrate GIS into its existing IBM business intelligence system using Esri Maps for IBM Cognos. With this GIS portal, called Home Analytics, the organisation and its many partners can now perform complex searches to find, for example, houses over a certain age, in a specific city, with unfilled walls and occupants on low income, to identify precisely those households that might qualify for funding for insulation. They can generate displays on a digital map, make selections and export a report with a list of just those qualifying addresses.

“ Esri technology in combination with Ordnance Survey data has enabled us to target the installation of a number of sustainable energy technologies in a far more accurate way so that we can work to increase take up of these measures

Will Rivers – data insight manager at the Energy Saving Trust

Benefits

The Energy Saving Trust’s Home Analytics solution enables organisations to target the right homes and the right people with the most appropriate energy efficiency schemes. It is therefore playing a crucial role in the UK, helping to drive the adoption of measures to reduce energy consumption, minimise carbon emissions and alleviate fuel poverty.

Local authorities use Home Analytics to help them reduce the cost of implementing energy efficiency initiatives and improve their ability to meet government targets. Rather than knocking on every door in a neighbourhood or mailshotting an entire city, councils can focus their resources on precisely those homes that meet the criteria. “In some cases, as much as two thirds of the cost of delivering an energy efficiency scheme can be attributed to identifying and locating the right types of home,” Rivers explains. “By reducing this cost of delivery, we can help organisations to deliver more energy saving measures into the UK housing stock in a more cost effective way.”

Commercial companies, like solar panel providers, can also take advantage of Home Analytics to improve their sales success and install more solar panels – both improving their revenues and helping to reduce the country’s overall carbon emissions. Equally, the UK’s large energy suppliers can use the solution to target those households where they can achieve the biggest reduction in carbon for the least cost. “If we can help energy companies deliver their energy obligations more cheaply, we can make their investment go further and improve the success of government policies like the Green Deal,” Rivers says.

Millions of people across the UK are affected by fuel poverty, and Home Analytics can be used to help to alleviate this suffering. Local authorities in Scotland currently use this GIS portal to pinpoint those homes in specific locations, occupied by people over 75 or under 5 years old, with high energy bills and low incomes and no cavity wall insulation for example. “Fuel bills have more than doubled since 2005,” says Rivers. “Home Analytics helps local authorities identify people who are at most risk and provide targeted support.”

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National Grid: Gas Distribution

Mobilising the business with a single view of location

As part of its business transformation, National Grid deployed Esri UK’s LocatorHub to create a ‘single point of truth’ for all location information in the business. This GIS-based solution gives the organisation – for the first time – consistent, accurate address information, enabling it to operate more efficiently and react more quickly to emergencies.

– Gas Distribution –


Case study – Gas Networks


The Customer

National Grid plc is one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world. It delivers energy to millions of homes and businesses across Great Britain.

LocatorHub puts accurate location information at the heart of the business and is integrated into all key business applications, from CRM to SAP plant maintenance

Accurate address information helps the organisation to respond more quickly and effectively to emergencies and speed up incident investigations

Use of LocatorHub gives engineers the information they need to help them to deliver better customer service

The Challenge

For National Grid, accurately pinpointing people, properties and infrastructure is essential in order to run a safe network and deliver responsive customer service. But within its UK Gas Distribution business, maintaining reliable location information was challenging. The staff – from engineers, to customer service operatives, to asset managers – relied on a variety of systems to do their job. More challenging still, each system used different sources of address data, referenced and searched in different ways.

This gave rise to a number of problems. “Inaccuracies would often creep in across different systems,” says John Turner, Project Manager for National Grid. “Some addresses might be spelled incorrectly or recorded differently in different databases. This added time and risk to our work, which – especially for our emergency response activities – we simply couldn’t afford.”

To enhance safety, increase efficiency and boost regulatory performance, National Grid decided to tackle this problem as part of its ambitious Gas Distribution Transformation Programme. This saw the company reduce its business systems from forty to just four – one of which was a Geographic Information System (GIS) from Esri UK.

Built into this system was Esri UK’s innovative LocatorHub solution.

“ LocatorHub enables us to manage the address lifecycle, from plot all the way through to demolition. That’s absolutely fundamental to the work we do, but we would never be able to handle it on our own. The Esri system is a core part of our business

John Turner – Project Manager (Data/GIS), Transformation Programme, National Grid

The Solution

LocatorHub is a powerful location management solution. It gives utilities centralised access to any datasets, from public data such as Ordnance Survey, to their own sets of addresses, roads, network assets and vulnerable customers. This creates a ‘single point of truth’ for all location information in the business.

Importantly, the system constantly cleanses address data, correcting inaccuracies and removing duplicates. It gives every location a set of coordinates, for pinpoint accuracy. And it’s very easy to use; users can search for information using xy coordinates, standard address formats, asset addresses and includes fuzzy matching.

LocatorHub can also be embedded into applications. At National Grid, it is built into the Esri desktop and integrated into all key business applications – from the CRM system to its SAP plant maintenance application – putting reliable location information at the heart of business processes.

As soon as LocatorHub was populated, John and his team cleansed their data to ensure all records were accurate. “We verified 22 million addresses provided by Xoserve to be able to link vulnerable customer and meter information with our LocatorHub addresses. We also cleaned our asset location data, and gave xy coordinates to everything in the system, creating a highly accurate, centralised set of data for use across the business.”

“ Previously, collating information about an incident could take several weeks. But with LocatorHub, we can identify premise and job history in less than a day

John Turner – Project Manager (Data/GIS), Transformation Programme, National Grid

Benefits

National Grid has completed 1.5m jobs in the last 12 months using LocatorHub to identify properties or gas sites, and verified more than 60,000 gas site locations.

The business now has one point of reference for all activities at a site. “That includes all jobs we’ve carried out, and a full customer history. We can even centrally log details of all people related to a particular site, from landowners to occupiers and their agents.” explains John.

“This helps our engineers deliver better service. And it’s easier to get the business intelligence to make more informed strategic decisions.”

LocatorHub also helps National Grid respond quickly to emergency call-outs. As the organisation responsible for the UK-wide National Gas Emergency Service, this is businesscritical. “We are targeted by Ofgem to respond to uncontrolled leaks within 1 hour,” explains John. “This can be challenging, especially when people report smelling gas at places without an address, such as a field or a canal bank.

“LocatorHub lets our call centre team position a map to mark the xy coordinates of a potential leak. This can save our engineers minutes or even hours in locating the leak, which is vital for protecting the public.”

When it comes to incident investigation, LocatorHub offers impressive time savings. Investigation requires a lot of information – from a site’s repair history, to recent activities at nearby premises. “Previously, collating information about an incident could take several weeks. But with LocatorHub, we can identify premise and job history in less than a day,” John confirms.

Of course, address data is always changing. But now that LocatorHub is in place, National Grid has a way to manage this efficiently. “If a site doesn’t exist in our systems – perhaps it’s a new-build – LocatorHub lets us add a temporary location, so we can continue with our work until we validate it,” he says.

John believes LocatorHub will be a key part of National Grid operations for many years to come. “LocatorHub enables us to manage the address lifecycle, from plot all the way through to demolition. That’s absolutely fundamental to the work we do, but we would never be able to handle it on our own. The Esri system is a core part of our business.”

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