PowerSouth Energy Cooperative is a generation-and-transmission cooperative, providing the wholesale power needs of 20 distribution members—16 electric cooperatives and four municipal electric systems—in Alabama and northwest Florida.
PowerSouth conducts monthly inspections at its 290 transmission substations, examining equipment and issuing work orders as needed. The utility’s six inspection crews were using a legacy software solution running on heavy, ruggedized hardware systems to gather inspection data in the field. They then needed to bring the equipment back to a docking station at the office, get on the network, and synch with the back-end Oracle Database. This was a time-consuming process that did not enable the utility to issue work orders on the fly. In addition, the field systems were very expensive to maintain—costing approximately US$40,000 per year—and did not provide camera or GPS capabilities.
PowerSouth worked with PITSS America to develop a new inspection application—using Oracle ADF Mobile, Oracle TopLink, and Oracle WebLogic Server—that runs on an iPad, enabling its crews to retrieve inspection data in the field, take pictures, and immediately synch with the back-end database. In addition, the technology is much lighter, more user-friendly, and inexpensive to maintain. Even if a crew is in a remote area without internet service, it can collect data on the iPad in offline mode and then upload it as soon as it can access WiFi service.
The Oracle ADF Mobile-based application enables PowerSouth to collect rich coordinate and photographic data, and it ensures high-quality data through an excellent user interface built with an iterative-design approach. PowerSouth’s inspectors can complete their work more quickly and with a high level of data integrity, leading to more reliable reporting and business intelligence.
PowerSouth chose Oracle ADF Mobile as the development platform for the project because it offered simplified mobile development and easy integration with native device features, providing field inspectors with all the functionality required on a mobile tablet.
“Oracle ADF Mobile had everything we need, already embedded, so we could develop the application very quickly. Oracle product management has been very supportive and helpful as we have worked through the process,” said Kenneth Jones, business systems services supervisor, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.
PITSS began by reviewing the existing application and proposing a new set of application design wireframes. The team used the wireframes to guide the initial interface development and then began a series of iterative build-and-review steps, until the mobile application was complete.
“PITSS has been extremely helpful. After we shared our ideas, PITSS came back with Oracle ADF Mobile as a solution and brought to the table experience and a design process that worked out very well,” said Kenneth Jones, business systems services supervisor, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.