The client is one of the biggest and safest providers of natural gas services to homes and businesses in the United States.
The company was having trouble accurately locating its gas meters, which must be inspected regularly. It also wanted to optimize the meter reading and inspection routes for millions of customers.
Korem replaced the client’s aging geocoding solution and route optimization system that were not delivering the expected results with a new enterprise geospatial platform. Since then, employees have saved a lot of time by knowing the precise location of gas meters and having optimized reading and inspection routes.
The client is one of the biggest and safest providers of natural gas services to homes and businesses in the United States. The divisions of the corporation currently have millions of customers in thousands of communities across multiple states.
At the present time, gas providers are interested in investing primarily in safety and reliability, but also in other objectives such as improving the customer experience, modernizing infrastructure, and managing risk. In addition, they are committed to strengthening their regulatory reporting capabilities in order to comply with newer guidelines. Finally, they are always looking to leverage new technologies and business processes through system growth opportunities and emerging technologies.
This company was having trouble accurately locating its existing customers and, more specifically, its gas meters, which are used to know how much energy is consumed and how much to bill. Therefore, the company embarked on a major project to recreate and optimize its “meter reading routes,” which are routes assigned to people who check the individual meters on site to record the usage and regularly inspect the equipment.
The biggest challenge of this project was that many of the meters are located in back alleys and since these are not considered roads in GPS systems or even in routing solutions, their addresses were incorrectly located, for example, near the street in front of houses. This made route optimization impossible as routing systems were unable to create itineraries that took into account the actual location of the meters, i.e., in the back alleys.
As a result, the employees were spending far more time and money on visiting all these gas meters than what was actually necessary. Their routing application was also instructing them to alternate between each address from left to right on the street, which was not at all optimal.
In addition, when the company had addresses to add to the meter reading routes due to new constructions or the addition of new residential or commercial developments, someone had to do it manually; nothing was automated. Having to edit, update, or change these routes by hand and without predetermined processes was, of course, very time-consuming.
The company tried two other solution providers to improve the meter reading and inspection routes, but no standard routing and fleet management vendors were able to resolve the problem caused by back alleys. In 2008, the customer ultimately turned to Korem, which recommended the enterprise technology platform Spectrum as well as Master Location Data from Precisely to replace its aging geocoding solution.
After that successful implementation, Spectrum’s routing and location intelligence modules were added to help with the route optimization problems. With them, Korem’s experts developed a business logic, that is, a set of procedures, that relies on two things.
Since the platform is fully hosted on the customer’s infrastructure and users have been trained by Korem’s team to successfully operate it, the employees are not captive to the solution and can be fully autonomous. Korem always remains at their disposal if they need additional enablement or want to make extensive changes to the solution.
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Creation of meter reading routes in a matter of
hours instead of months
Having a central solution, integrated with its ERP solution, to put all gas meter locations and consumer address geocodes has been a game changer for the customer. Indeed, many entities, departments, and applications of the company exploit it every day. For example, the risk management department uses the same point-based geocoding logic to accurately determine household risk exposure in the event of a gas leak or other infrastructure-related hazard.
Providing a single source of truth across the enterprise without requiring employees to visit each site to correctly locate meters inevitably reduces the risk of errors as well as wasted time and money. The company now has access to a much more efficient meter reading and inspection route sequencing. What used to take months to create or to manually adjust is now being processed for the entire country overnight or in one day in a fully automated way.