Case Study | Risk Management

Consumers Energy

Founded in 1886, Consumers Energy is headquartered in Jackson, Michigan, and provides more than 6 million Michigan families and businesses natural gas and electricity. Consumers Energy’s network includes 87,097 miles of electrical distribution lines and 27,958 miles of natural gas distribution pipeline.

How a Public Utility Company in Michigan Gained Field Process Improvements with UtiliSphere™

Consumers Energy added UtiliSphere™ into their workflow process and saw an increase in productivity within the first 100 days of using UtiliSphere.

  • Problem

Consumers Energy is one of the largest gas and electric companies in the Midwest and a thought leader in the damage prevention industry. Headquartered in Jackson, Michigan, Consumers Energy provides natural gas and electricity to more than 6 million Michigan residents.

With more than 400,000 gas distribution one call 811 tickets annually, the public safety/damage prevention team struggled to identify and prioritize the most high-risk tickets. Team members manually combed through tickets to find those that might be high risk. Consumers Energy needed help automating their efforts to quickly prioritize their workday around excavations with the highest risk to the system.

  • Solution

With Irth Solutions’ Risk Management solution, Consumers Energy has been able to identify the level of risk associated with 811 tickets and dig sites with special attention given to repeat damage offenders. UtiliSphere’s SmartScore assigns a risk ranking to all inbound dig tickets, which was configured based on specific information relevant to Consumers Energy. If an excavator is a repeat offender, the software uses that historical information to assign a higher risk rank to a ticket submitted from that excavator. The configurable software allows Consumers Energy to update their scoring criteria when needed.

Now team members can assess the tickets in their zone and plan their day. This process improvement also helps the team with coverage. “If someone knows they’re covering for someone else, they can plan their day and make sure nothing gets missed. The field team uses UtiliSphere to plan their day — every single day,” said Amanda Brott, Senior Technology Analyst, Consumers Energy.

UtiliSphere has also allowed Consumers Energy to automate and digitize many of their workflow processes. For repeat damagers, Consumers Energy has created a process to gather data more efficiently and transform that data into actionable information.

Consumers Energy also created a locating quality audit form. Auditors can choose whether the locate company adequately marked the dig area. If the marks are inadequate in any way, UtiliSphere will automatically send an email to the contract locating company. Communication between all stakeholders is improved as locating companies can add comments to their ticket, rather than engage in back-and-forth emails.

  • Results

Consumers Energy has a damage prevention team that educates excavators how to conduct proper, safe digs. Although this team is spread throughout Michigan, it’s impossible for them to oversee every excavation that occurs. UtiliSphere gives Consumers Energy visibility into their workflow across their entire service territory. With UtiliSphere, Consumers Energy can now clearly direct their efforts toward damage prevention.

Given the company’s process improvements, Consumers Energy has seen an increase in field productivity. The field team can visit more sites daily as documenting the data has become a simpler process. The workers can simply click on a ticket and see the damage, without having to spend time doing research.

  • Field workers can get into UtiliSphere from their phone, putting real-time information into the system. We can also provide data from the office. Everyone immediately knows what’s going on in the field.”

    UtiliSphere Enabled

    • Automated workflow.
      UtiliSphere enabled Consumers Energy to digitize many of their processes, making it easier to conduct work throughout the day. Some of these forms are automatically populated with relevant information for particular sites or excavators.

    • Increased accessibility.
      Since UtiliSphere is SaaS and can be accessed through mobile or web, the field team is able to stay connected while on site. No more handwriting notes that must be transcribed into the system later. Workers can also upload photos from the field.

    • Improved productivity.
      With digital forms and easy-to-access information, the team is much more efficient with their workflow.

    • Increased efforts in other areas.
      Consumers Energy’s damage prevention team can now spend more time in front of repeat offenders, educating them on how to properly and safely dig.

    • Damage prevention.
      With UtiliSphere, Consumers Energy has already seen a reduction in damages.

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