iPads becoming newest tool for electric, gas operations

By David Bertola

When our electric operations field crews learn of a damaged utility pole, the first step often includes driving to the site to determine the size of the pole, the conductor type and gather other information. They then drive to a warehouse to load up the correct equipment. Then it’s back to the site to begin repair work.

Thanks to a new iPad pilot program launched last year in Batavia, N.Y., This process could soon become a thing of the past, as data regarding National Grid facilities, product inventory and safety information will be like work gloves and steering wheels – all in the palms of crew members’ hands.

Batavia electric operations crew uses the iPad to check inventory

A Batavia electric operations crew uses the iPad to check inventory before heading out into the field.

“Having the information right at our fingertips helps us with our response,” added overhead line supervisor Darin McCutcheon who works in Batavia, where about 40 iPads were distributed as part of the pilot.

Added Mike Fullex, overhead manager, Genesee region, western New York division, “Rather than carrying books around with them, they have access to standard electric operating procedures, our safety manuals and safety bulletins. In addition to that, they can be a lot more efficient in their daily activities.”

The pilot was created to streamline electric operations processes. Information gathered from it will shape the way the iPads are used moving forward. Meanwhile, crews in Watertown, N.Y. also recently received iPads, part of the 1,000 or so that are scheduled to be distributed to crews throughout electric and gas business units in 2019.

Crews received training on the iPads, which initially were used for time entry, one of the many benefits that also include a map program that aids in easily locating work sites.

A short video about our Batavia crews at work with their iPads can be found here