30,000 citizens; 31 sq. mi. service area
Making the switch from reactive to proactive maintenance due to lack of asset and activity tracking
Managing time, budget and manpower more effectively thanks to better communication, efficient logging and a new PM plan
Coming into the position of Manager of Operations less than a year ago, Eric Garcia had a tall order to serve in his role at the Camrosa Water District. With a military background, he was used to the efficiency of a well-oiled machine, and he could see where his department could use some streamlining to improve its operations. His task was to oversee the largest part of the district, both in manpower and budget, as well as a 13-person department. It was clear early on that they needed a better plan, one that didn’t consist of the paper work orders they had been using thus far and an Excel spreadsheet that was cumbersome to maintain.
He also felt the pressure of improving communication. With multiple employees nearing retirement and no real way to keep documentation all in one place for everyone to see, knowledge retention was becoming a concern. On top of that, they were struggling to capture time allotments accurately and needed a means to log what was going on in the field in real time.
The most difficult issue they faced was having virtually no application for tracking assets and work history. They were logging activity hotspots only minimally, and they couldn’t keep up with the diverse needs of all their infrastructure, including wells, pumps, motors, treatment facilities, 200 miles of in-ground pipes and 11 reservoirs. It was this priority of getting out of reactive mode and into a proactive, preventive maintenance approach that got them on the hunt for a solution. They scoped through applications from at least 10 companies, all of which fell short of the requirements they were after.
Eric and his team had a specific set of requirements when they entered the solutions scene, and they weren’t having much luck finding a single application that performed the way they needed it to. They needed something with a reliable scheduling capability to get a solid PM plan underway, as well as the ability to communicate in real time so they could track needs and work being performed.
They also required something that was user-friendly so team members in the field could actually benefit from it. A key feature, though, was that it needed to be GIS-centric, a solution not designed around the GIS but rather with the GIS built around it, an aspect that proved hard to find.
The team’s selection process hadn’t turned up much, until they came across Dude Solutions’ Mobile311TM, a solution that knocked down pin after pin on their requirements list. “It was the only solution that fit what we needed,” said Eric, who’s now been a Dude client for about three months. Not only does it meet their wish list, it also integrates with other software they use, like the billing program they have in place to process work orders, which they’re hoping to integrate in the near future.
With the requirements achieved, what sealed the deal was Dude’s customer service. “You were honest about what you were and what you weren’t,” said Eric, noting that his Dude team didn’t try to reel him in with overpromising and that their level of responsiveness had been hard to find among other software companies. Eric and his team credit their early success with Mobile311 to their choice to have on-site consulting during their implementation phase. They wanted face-to-face help, and they got it. By the time their Dude representative left, they were up and running. They got going quickly, using the solution with ease from day one and cutting the typical implementation time from six months to one.
Eric’s department within the Camrosa Water District now uses Mobile311 to track and schedule assets and work effectively, documenting them for easy retrieval by all team members and keeping up with time spent in the field. “We had no method for budgeting time prior to this,” said Eric. They’re also able to track the status of their new preventive maintenance plan, information Eric hopes to turn into data analytics soon, particularly for pipeline replacement.
Not only has the application been effective in its performance, it’s also been easy to use for all on the team. Those in the field can open Mobile311 on their phone and quickly see what work has been completed and what’s next to do without having to dig through multiple layers. “I wanted to get feedback to make sure it was easy to use for these operators day-to-day,” Eric said, and it has been. One feature they frequently benefit from is being able to upload photos in the field instead of having to upload them on a computer once back in the office, which was very cumbersome and time consuming.
Though the Camrosa O&M department is relatively new to using Mobile311, they’ve already seen a big improvement in their efforts, and Eric says they look forward to what collecting this data can do for them in the future.
We’ve had more success than I could have even imagined.