Andrew Roper

Director of Engineering and Investment at Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

it’s important for modern utilities to keep down the cost of customer bills whilst actually improving the reliability of their networks.  Key to this is actually understanding your asset data and, traditionally, utilities have had strong asset systems in the background, but the key is how you get good data from the field into those systems.  

Those systems tend to be quite fixed and they take quite a lot of cost to upgrade them, so Chime gave us an opportunity to have flexible questions in the field which we could answer and send good quality data back into our base systems.

The advantage of having good data in your asset systems is that you can then analyse that and target your investment wisely so that you can make the best overall asset investment decisions, which improve the reliability of your network and improve the efficiency of the investment, thus reducing bills for your customers.

The reason we selected Chime for our asset data collection was the flexibility of the question sets.  Chime provides you a background platform for the back office where engineers can actually choose what the questions are that you ask in the field and it’s not only about individual questions, it’s also about how you group those questions together so you can ask a question against a group of assets rather than individual ones and, dependent on the first question you can ask, you can also have logic in terms of what the follow-up questions are.  And this makes it much more user-friendly and much more efficient for the guys in the field collecting the data. It also means because of the validation in there that you get better quality data and the amount of training that you need to do for your field staff is minimised, and obviously better data collected in the field actually means that you can make better asset decisions back in the back office.

The other thing is that Chime allows you to engage with the users in the field so we’ve had direct feedback from our field staff about if you changed this question you could get better information around this asset, and that’s key to lean processes and how you actually improve things so you get the right information back in the first place.  

You’re an early adopter of Chime, you’re the first adopter of Chime so you took a risk on Chime ……

I didn’t see this as a massive risk because I knew that it would actually help the field staff actually tailor the question sets to their needs.  The biggest risk is around how we integrate that question set back into our main databases, but I knew that with the knowledge of the industry from the Clear Horizon team that we would be able to do that.  

Andrew, what are you future Plans for Chime?

So, I see a lot of opportunities for Chime in the future.  At the moment, we are using Chime for our fixed assets in our substations and for collecting data on things such as link boxes and towers, but I can see that Chime can be used for other assets. People are your assets, you can collect data on how they spend their time, you can collect data on how they carry out their safe systems of work, so they are pre-work risk assessments.  And Chime gives you the opportunity to tie that back to any source database, be that through a hard interface or through extraction of files such as in excel format.

If you were to summarise it for you, what’s been the best thing about Chime?

Chime has a back-end system in it, it allows us to do a quality check on the data so that means that we can quality vet the data that’s come back from the field.  This is one big advantage that Chime offers over any other system that I’ve seen.

For us, Chime offers us the opportunity to collect great quality asset data which I know I can trust.