Utility Develops Competitive Edge with Wireless Solution
In an effort to give its field service employees more information in real-time and thus provide better customer service, Public Service Electric & Gas Co. (PSE&G), New Jersey, is replacing its outdated radio dispatch system with a wireless dispatch system and information network. “The gas service business is feeling the heat of deregulation,” said Lou Kaufer, PSE&G`s systems integration technology manager. “The challenge for us is how to take the gas service business and make it a lot more competitive in the eventuality we are forced to go outside the utility arena,” said Kaufer.
To insure that the system design addressed the needs of everyone, PSE&G solicited the help of Sapient Corp., a Cambridge, Mass.-based company that provides information technology consulting and software development. “Sapient was a catalyst in bringing people together and getting them to bring their requirements and issues to the table,” said Kaufer. “They integrated a series of disparate issues and thoughts in a way that allowed us to focus on one common goal. With the objects defined, PSE&G sent 20 people to Sapient`s Boston headquarters to work on system design.
The new streamlined system is wireless and paperless. Calls come into the call center which in turn sends service orders to a dispatch center`s PC via a Hewlett Packard HP9000 Series 800 server. The dispatch center then sends the order over the Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile wireless network to the field person`s 486 pen-based computer. After the service person completes a call, information is entered directly into the pen-based computer and transmitted to the dispatch center`s computer.
The pen-based computers allow service people to call up a history on the customer and find out what types of appliances and service contracts they have before they enter the person`s home. Eventually, they will also be able to pull up wiring schematics on appliances so they can service more types of gas appliances and fix more complex problems faster and easier. The system will also improve customer service by enabling dispatchers and call centers to track calls so customers can be informed about what is being done, what was installed and the cost.