Jul 09, 2012

New England-Based Utility Implements Enhanced Vegetation Management Solution

Unitil Corp. to boost reliability, regulatory compliance with GeoDigital Solutions' mobile vegetation maintenance software

New England gas and electric service provider Unitil will implement GeoDigital Solutions’ enhanced Vegetation Management Solution for planning, executing, reporting and analyzing vegetation maintenance. The package includes VegWorks, one of the mobile applications in the WorkStudio suite of utility mobile tools for assessors and crews.

New Hampshire-based Unitil and four of its local affiliates provide electric service to more than 100,000 customers and natural gas to nearly 72,000 customers in Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire. Its territory includes approximately 2,000 miles of overhead lines.

Unitil wanted to enhance a company-wide tree pruning program in 2011 and initiated the search for vegetation management software to:

  • Track and report on Distribution and Sub-Transmission work based on feeder metrics, historic data, forecasts, annual work plans, unscheduled work and crew productivity;
  • Plan and forecast cycle work;
  • Store data in a database in a geographic format;
  • Provide QA/QC for the work and provide performance indicators;
  • Create work packets; and
  • Record and track customer restrictions.

GeoDigital’s Vegetation Management Solution automates typical utility work functions in right-of-way management of trees and ground cover. The VegWorks application is an easy-to-use mobile tool for assessors, vegetation crews and auditors. Crews receive assigned work and record their completions using a simple pen-based interface.  Auditors can generate and perform random audits to ensure work was completed as specified. All work is documented and can be quickly formatted to satisfy reporting requirements.

Sara Sankowich, Unitil System arborist, said, “Once the deployment is complete, VegWorks will help Unitil supervisors to streamline work and, in turn, save time relative to planning and reporting.” Foresters use VegWorks for unit-based assessments. “When you’re in the field, you can take a picture and attach it to the record that’s accessible to everyone. That makes it easy to assign the work and it eliminates room for error,” Sankowich said.

Unitil expects to have the enhanced vegetation management solution completed in fall 2012.