Yarra Valley Water - meter condition auditing

Yarra Valley Water - meter condition auditing

Yarra Valley Water is Melbourne’s largest retail water utility, providing essential water and sanitation services to more than 1.8 million people. Yarra Valley Water's service area covers most of Melbourne’s northern and eastern suburbs, from Wallan in the north to Warburton in the east, across approximately 4,000 square kilometres.

Yarra Valley Water recently completed an audit of a statistically significant sample of its water meter fleet across its service area to confirm the condition of the water meters and to identify any potential safety issues associated with access. The information collected will allow Yarra Valley Water to plan their resources more effectively for future activities such as meter exchanges.

Yarra Valley Water's trained meter readers used the ORDITAL solution on a smart phone to take classified photographs of water meters. The meter readers were not required to enter any data about the water meter, but simply locate the meter and take a minimum of two photographs of the water meter.

The result of this collection effort was a large photo archive of indexed and catalogued photographs of the water meter fleet sample. The act of capturing the photos was the information capture exercise. Turning that information into structured data utilized ORDITAL's patented crowd sourcing solution.

The ORDITAL mobile app classifies photos of the water meter as they are taken. This project utilized two classifications - a SITE photo that showed where the water meter was located on the property and a PROFILE photo that showed how the water meter was installed. All photos are geolocated and time-stamped for accuracy.

 

Geolocated and time-stamped 

By classifying photographs we are in a position to understand what attributes we are likely to obtain from a photograph of that class. The classified photograph is then processed with jobs in a crowd sourcing network with multiple independent judgments sought to give us a measure of confidence in our attribute. This is an important differentiation between a traditional audit where the auditor enters data in the field without providing evidence of the device, its condition and location.

The example below shows the results from processing the above photographs. We have generated structured data from the photos that tells us whether there is any obstruction in accessing the meter, whether we have clear access to the meter, what sort of surface is below the meter, what colour pipes are connected to the meter (i.e. copper pipes are easier to work on than galvanized pipes), whether the meter is higher or lower than 150mm (6") above the ground, and whether or not the meter is buried.

 

SITE ATTRIBUTE CONFIDENCE
OUTDOOR METER NOT IN CONFINED SPACE 100%
METER CLEAR OF VEGETATION/BUSHES 100%
0 METER(S) VISIBLE IN PHOTO 100%
METER IN PIT 100%

These factors can be used to assess the degree of difficulty in replacing a meter. For example, if a technician arrives at site to replace a meter and finds that it is buried he will generally have to leave the site and call in someone to raise up the meter then return after that work has been completed. Having this information allows the right trade to be called in to execute the work as there is no ambiguity about what conditions will be found at site.
When taking photos the meter readers are careful to only take photos that assist with management of the meter fleet and ensure that photos do not include the owner's property, personal effects, or anything which identifies the address such as the street number on the letterbox. Most often this is achieved by taking the photo backward toward the street, thus ensuring privacy considerations are strictly adhered to.

 

PROFILE ATTRIBUTE Confidence
PARTIALLY BURIED** 67%
EARTH-GRASS-GARDEN BELOW METER 100%
SIMPLE T HANDLE 100%
LOW METER 100%
METER IN PIT 100%
PIPE END PIPE NOT VISIBLE 100%
VALVE END PIPE NOT VISIBLE 100%

**Multiple independent judgments drive confidence levels. In the above example we have an attribute with 67% confidence. If we examine the individual judgments we can see there was a slight disagreement between whether the meter is fully or partially buried.

JUDGMENT
FULLY BURIED
PARTIALLY BURIED
PARTIALLY BURIED

Information gained from the meter audit will be able to be used to inform future Yarra Valley Water budgeting and meter replacement programs.

Energex - changing how asset data is captured

Energex - changing how asset data is captured

Energex is a subsidiary of Energy Queensland Limited, a Queensland State government-owned corporation in Australia. Energex builds, operates and maintains the electricity distribution network in the growing region of South East Queensland.

In late April 2016 Energex embarked upon a project with ORDITAL to collect information on 9,466 Ring Main Units (RMU's) that were distributed across South East Queensland. Instead of sending personnel into the field to enter data into a keyboard or notepad, Energex sent personnel to describe their assets with photos alone using the ORDITAL solution. This is one of several successful projects that Energex has now completed with ORDITAL.

The RMU project ran for just over 2 months and collected 50,524 classified and cataloged photos that were assembled in a 72GB archive. The photos were captured using the ORDITAL mobile app which allows the photos to be cataloged, classified and geo-located with a single click so that field personnel can quickly get in and capture data and move on to the next item. Field personnel did not have to enter any text during the audit - simply taking classified photos to completely describe the RMU.

The ORDITAL solution allows the auditor to capture classified photographs that accurately describe the RMU in a number of important areas:

  • SITE photographs showing where the RMU is physically installed and how it is identified / tagged (typically 2 photos)
  • RMU photographs showing how it is installed, the ID/purchase order, and the manufacturer's nameplate (typically 3 photos)
  • SITE CONDITION photographs showing any conditions that impact the operation of the RMU such as:
    • OVERGROWN VEGETATION
    • UNEVEN GROUND
    • COMPROMISED ESCAPE PATH
    • PHYSICAL OBSTRUCTION

The RMU is geo-located during the audit process.

By taking classified & cataloged photos of the RMU, Energex have fundamentally changed the concept of field data collection. It is no longer about asking auditors to go out and interpret what they see and enter textual information in either written form, or into a hand held device. By taking photos Energex are collecting very detailed "information" - and doing so a lot more accurately and efficiently than traditional text based audits allow.

The raw "information" in the large photo archive can then be turned into structured, actionable data in a variety of ways. For example, specialist Energex personnel could query the database for RMU's in particular scenarios with overgrown vegetation to decide what sort of remedial works are required.

When it comes to turning large amounts of raw "information" into structured data ORDITAL provides crowd sourcing through customized jobs in large crowd sourcing networks to provide structured data of measurable quality. A good example of this might be to get manufacturer information from the photo archive so that this information can be uploaded into Energex's network management systems.

NAME PLATE photograph of Ring Mount Unit

ATTRIBUTE Extracted from Photo
MANUFACTURER ABB
MODEL SAFELINK
CONFIGURATION CFC
SERIAL NUMBER 1YJN36277402
YEAR OF MANUFACTURE 2009
COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE NEW ZEALAND

When we have classified photographs we understand what attributes we are likely to be able to extract from those photographs. We submit these photos to crowd sourcing networks of millions of people that are available on demand to answer questions about the photos which are submitted back to us as judgments.

If we only have one judgment, as in the case where we send an auditor to enter text in the field, then we have no measure of the accuracy. It might be right, it might be wrong. With the ORDITAL crowd sourcing solution we introduce a concept of measurable quality where an attribute is only accepted when there are multiple agreeing judgments. For example, if we have 2 out of 3 people key in a serial number of 1YJN36277402 we could say we have 67% confidence in the answer, whereas 3 out of 3 would give us 100% confidence. If we only had one person entering that data then we would have no measure of confidence.

The processing of photos is assembled into large batches and processed typically within 24 hours of the photograph being taken with that data then available for Energex.

By far the most expensive part of any audit activity is getting the person physically in front of the asset. The ORDITAL approach is to see taking the classified photograph as the field data capture activity and not text entry. And because all you are asking the field personnel to do is to take photos with an app there is a lot greater buy in from the field, and good quality photos being generated.

The success of these projects by Energex has validated the ORDITAL approach of describing assets with photos. It allowed rapid data capture, faster assembly of structured data, and ensures that network management systems are synchronized with what is physically installed in the field to generate improved asset management outcomes for Energex and their customers.

Electricity Meter Fleet Management

Electricity Meter Fleet Management

Electricity distributors own that part of the network that takes power from the electricity transmission network and distributes it to consumers. Generally the electricity distributor also owns a fleet of electricity meters that are used to determine the amount of electricity used by a consumer in a specific billing period. There are often millions of meters installed for each distributor and maintaining accurate information on these assets can be a challenge. ORDITAL recently completed a project for an electricity distributor and discusses the scope in this article

A deeper look at the ORDITAL Mobile App

A deeper look at the ORDITAL Mobile App

In this blog post we'll take a deeper look at the end to end process using the ORDITAL mobile app and how it synchronizes with the ORDITAL server. This is what a client with an Enterprise license would be able to do with the system.

Free iPhone App to Catalogue & Classify Equipment Photos

Free iPhone App to Catalogue & Classify Equipment Photos

Taking digital photos of equipment has become a common part of many work processes. However, there is now native way to link the photos to an equipment record (catalogue) and no way to classify the contents of the photograph. The ORDITAL mobile app is available for free download from the Apple App Store and allows photographs to be catalogued against an asset ID, for the images to be scaled and uploaded to your Dropbox account, the contents of photos classified according to the patented ORDITAL Classification System, and a report produced showing what assets have been audited. This capability is available completely for free and is available now.

Success with AssetFuture

Success with AssetFuture

ORDITAL recently completed a successful project with AssetFuture, an Australian company specializing in Asset Optimization. ORDITAL was a key part of the solution going into this project. The software and services from ORDITAL helped AssetFuture to meet their objectives in terms of on-time and on-budget delivery to their client. This was a new area for ORDITAL and allowed us to achieve some great new enhancements for all users.

First look at the new mobile app

First look at the new mobile app

ORDITAL has added new asset & photo types to its production servers to support an expanded data schema. To go along with this release is a new user interface that has been redesigned via a design competition to allow a fresh look at how to make the app more productive and visually appealing, whilst building on the strong foundations established through project use.

Visualizing your Asset Register

Visualizing your Asset Register

Significant enhancements for the ORDITAL Asset Navigator have been pushed to production today and are immediately available for all subscribed users. The Asset hierarchy is an essential part of any CMMS and visualizing it prior to loading into the CMMS ensures accuracy

The Lean Startup

The Lean Startup

The Lean Startup provides a great methodology for startups to minimize waste and remain focused on the value they seek to provide to their clients. However, to implement this requires you to continuously evaluate how well you are engaging with your team to deliver results. Exactly the same teams can deliver dramatically different results based on your approach. And the responsibility for providing this guiding vision rests with the management of the startup.

The Circle of Trust

The Circle of Trust

Errors and inaccuracies in data are a fact of life. Professions like surveying acknowledge that errors are a fact of life in everything and employ rigorous closure methodologies to reduce and quantify possible errors. Compare that with asset information - particularly materialized asset information. We store data about that asset, but give users of that data no tools to assess the accuracy of that data. Is it any wonder that lack of trust in asset data is such a major issue for many organizations?

Big Data in the Pool Shed

Big Data in the Pool Shed

Whilst collecting structured asset data for materialized physical objects is problematic, organizations are collecting massive amounts of data containing this information on a regular basis. The problem is that this data is not collected and processed to harvest the information contained therein in any useful way. It is currently an opportunity lost.

Physical Objects & Data Corrosion

Physical Objects & Data Corrosion

In this blog article we shall explore the differences between functional and materialized physical objects, challenges and expectations with respect to data accuracy with respect to these physical objects, and the effect of temporality in data corrosion.

The Pool Shed

The Pool Shed

In this blog article we'll delve into the mystery that is my pool shed and look at the challenges surrounding the information that is known on that equipment. This is an extremely small scale problem that will be used for a series of upcoming blog articles to demonstrate complex challenges faced by organizations trying to keep tabs on thousands of equipment items.

What are you actually getting for your audit dollar?

What are you actually getting for your audit dollar?

In one of my many ill-fated attempts to learn Chinese I came across a text book trying to explain the difference between a Chinese word and an English word. Whilst my continued lack of proficiency in Chinese is a testament to how much of the book I actually absorbed, I did remember this graphic from that text and the point it was trying to make.

Intrinsically Safe Big Data Collection

Intrinsically Safe Big Data Collection

Today we all have cheap access to powerful devices that we carry with us everywhere. These devices allow us to capture high resolution imagery and share it over a network instantly. An enormous amount of information that is collected is in the form of imagery and a lot of big data analysis involves extracting intelligence from these images.

Social Collaboration for Asset & Product Communities

Social Collaboration for Asset & Product Communities

Social collaboration involves communities of people with common interests working together to solve common goals by sharing information that assists in achieving those goals.

A Google search on “social collaboration for business” will show you how some of the world’s leading companies are leveraging social collaboration to foster continuous innovation and add value to their customers.

Today Assets & Products are disconnected and by extension the communities that should support them are fragmented. Social networks can build communities that can collaborate to deliver continuous innovation to organizations.

Turning a sales overhead into a sales advantage

Turning a sales overhead into a sales advantage

It might be stating the obvious, but companies that produce products for sale survive or fail on their ability to sell those products. Plenty of great products fall by the wayside without an avenue to market. And the avenue to market is the sales organization.

When it comes to asset management the information requirements of Operators are an overhead to Manufacturers of products.

The sales organization of a Manufacturer is the engine of growth for that business. If we can turn the information requirements for Operators into a sales advantage for Manufacturers then an overhead becomes an advantage.

Optimizing Asset Integrity Audits

Optimizing Asset Integrity Audits

An essential part of any asset integrity program is an audit to collect information about the assets that are physically installed in the plant.

It is often difficult to find the people with the skills required to carry out an asset audit, and it is costly to have these people on-site – especially for offshore and other remote locations.

Solutions that allow more efficient information collection and on-line collaboration with experts lower the skills required for the audit and allow audits to be completed in a shorter time, resulting in higher quality and lower costs.

Plant Manager’s challenge – inspecting for asset obsolescence

Plant Manager’s challenge – inspecting for asset obsolescence

Years ago I was involved in a team working through a number of maintenance improvement initiatives for an Operator that we thought were quite innovative.

When we put our initiatives to the Plant Manager of the client’s largest processing plant he dismissed most of them because they didn’t help him with his largest problem – obsolescence. Inspecting the asset won’t tell you if the Manufacturer still supports it.

Temporal Information for Assets & Products

Temporal Information for Assets & Products

Temporal information is information whose validity is defined by a start and end date. On my business card this might be the date I started working for the company and it will be valid until such time as I am no longer employed by that company.

Assets & products are two sides of the one coin – the asset being the Operator’s view and the product being the Manufacturer’s view. Each stores temporal information that is of interest to the other but both currently rely on a handover mechanism that assumes the information is static.

A Social Network connecting Assets & Products allows temporal information to be shared and other forms of collaboration to be enabled.