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Utility Management System: The pitfalls of manual data collection for wet utilities

Mark Moreau
Aug 4, 2019 12:22:00 PM

As water utilities go about their rounds of utility management for compliance and maintenance purposes, a great number of them still rely on paper forms and manual processes. 

Why? The technician is right there on-site, can write down the pertinent information, and enter it into a master data depository back at the office. Plus, it’s consistent with how utilities have been tracking and logging information for years.


Utility Management Systems 

Manual processes tend to be inefficient, can lead to inaccuracies, and put utilities at risk of non-compliance. Utility management systems can automate processes and improve the way you collect data, report, and manage your utilities. 

Here are five reasons that wet utility asset management via paper and pencil is risky.


5 reasons manual wet utility asset management processes are risky 

1. Lack of quality control

While data may be recorded correctly, it may not be clear who performed the work or if a work order was submitted. In fact, there may not be evidence that work was performed at all.

Given the nature of penmanship, there’s also the very real possibility that a 6 could be mistaken for a sloppy 0. Rain and wind can turn crisp, clean form into a soggy and illegible mess. On rare occasions, the initial data could be misplaced or lost from site to truck to office. Improper data input can lead to faulty conclusions and possibly compliance issues.

2. Time delays

Work may be completed and data logged on site, but it may take hours or even days for that data to be officially incorporated into the master file on your utility management system. 

Time can also be lost is the CMMS system doesn’t show specific analytics. Admin staff often has to take extra time to manipulate the data in a way to view trends. Precious time can be lost if emergency work needs to be performed on an asset.

3. Time lost in retrieving historical data

Videos and other historic files would need to be saved in a database or stored in a server. Collecting data from different applications and paper records can be time-consuming and frustrating.

4. Inefficient teamwork

Typically, paper maps and work order lists are given to crews to complete. Consultants often supply a binder that outlines needed sequences such as flushing. Binders are needed for different assets or processes. Bringing a portable binder library plus paper maps and work orders is not a practical solution for the teams in the field. Plus, binder assets are likely to return in less than complete or pristine condition.

5. Redundant efforts

Even after the information has been entered into a work order, it has to be entered again, separately, into GIS to update asset data. Think how often that has to be done per day, by how many techs and in how many locations.  


Stay on top of your assets by automating your utility management system

If you’re still using paper forms and manual data entry processes, consider utilizing a utility asset management tool to automate data collection and reporting, make sure data is accurate and keep a single up-to-date record for historical information. Gone are paper forms and lost or inaccurate data, redundant data entry and wasted time. A solution like Utility Cloud can also help users track, monitor, initiate, and manage work—as well as report and predict asset health—using real-time or manually-entered data.  


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