Natural Gas District Find Success with GIS-Centric Asset Management

Lake Apopka Natural Gas District (LANGD), servicing the needs of West Central Florida since 1959, has approximately 22,000 customers and is growing each year. In recent years they successfully implemented Elements XS, a GIS-based asset and work management system that bi-directionally integrates with their utility billing software. LANGD has integrated their ArcGIS platform with Elements XS to track and coordinate field efforts and maximize their GIS investment.

Why GIS?

LANGD wanted to use a work management system that leveraged their existing Esri tools and eliminate double entry. They also wanted a system that integrated with their utility billing software for real-time customer information to be accessed in the field. Having a system that reads from ArcGIS and their utility billing created an environment that would allow them to take their data a step forward.

Scott Minter, Director of Information Services for LANGD, explains the benefits:

“We recently integrated Elements XS to our District Map. This allowed us to move from a text based system to a graphical map. Now we can visually see where our work is being done. Or we can create heat maps showing where the work has been done in the past.” 

LANGD Elements XS heat map showing position of valves

LANGD Elements XS heat map showing position of valves

LANGD Elements XS software interacts directly with map services that have been published via ESRI’s ArcGIS for Server and/or ArcGIS Online. There are no limits to the number or types of map services that can be utilized and read and write feature access permissions are controlled at the user level.  All interaction with map services is in real time, whereby establishing the geodatabase as the single authoritative dataset for all spatial assets; no data is copied or synchronized.

Flexible Workflows

LANGD services a very diverse and changing district. They wanted to utilize a system that can be adaptable to their specific business processes and not have to adapt to what the software is doing. They also wanted to make changes to their system on their own without the help of the software vendor or a consultant. 

Scott Minter from LANGD, describes a custom process in Elements XS:

“We find Elements easy to use and enjoy the fact it is customizable to fit our needs. An example of this would be our leak calls. Leak calls are when a customer or other entity call us to inform us they “smell gas” or a landscaper has cut a line. The calls come in to our Customer Service agents who enter the initial call into Elements. Our Dispatcher uses our District Map to see who is nearby and assigns the task. We can tell who is nearby because we have fleet GPS units in every truck. The fleet software is integrated to our District Map using the Esri GeoEvent server. A custom form that previously was a paper form has been integrated into Elements. One good side effect of this is the utility workers are now typing in their notes instead of hand writing them which was sometimes difficult to decipher. Since the utility workers were using Elements anyway this was a natural migration to an all electronic capture which is more efficient. And the data is available everywhere. No need to drive back to the office to look up a paper copy. All of our cathodic protection tracking is handled electronically now as well.” 

LANGD Elements XS Map showing vehicles and layers to show different tasks

LANGD Elements XS Map showing vehicles and layers to show different tasks

Using the Elements XS Workflow Designer, an utility company can add a variety of tools to their system, such as:

  • Visually see if work is being done nearby when a customer calls

  • Assign work order to a technician based on location, priority, etc.

  • Perform safety checklists and required fields to complete a task

  • Automatically trigger follow-up actions based on information collected such as leak follow-up, yard repair, customer survey, etc.

  • Automatically notify customers at what stage the work is in (ex. email, text)

Elements XS  Dynamic Document Form used on a Gas Leak and Repair service order

Elements XS Dynamic Document Form used on a Gas Leak and Repair service order

Reporting

As a Green Energy Provider, LANGD has to be an industry leader by following strict government regulations for gas. Elements XS includes a report designer to generate tabular reports, an analytics designer to generate dashboards, and tools to generate spatial reports that are seamlessly integrated with the GIS.  Elements XS also utilizes an open Microsoft SQL database for other reporting engines.

Scott Minter from LANGD, describes the reporting benefits: 

“The report writer in Elements is easy to use and has assisted us with clearly demonstrating our compliance efforts. This has contributed to our passing our annual Florida Public Service Commission’s inspection with no infractions for the past two years.”

Adapting to Growth

The district in which LANGD is serving is one of the fastest growing areas in Florida at around 9% each year. LANGD has been able to meet those growing demands by utilizing their work management software. 

Scott Minter from LANGD, describes how a paper-less system has allowed for growth: 

“For the past two years we have focused on getting more and more of our recurring maintenance items into Elements. As a result we’ve automated the creation of service orders and eliminated thousands of manually entered orders. This has made a significant time savings for our back office team and will allow us to grow without needing to hire additional staff even as we’ve gained over 1,000 customers each year.”

About Lake Apopka Natural Gas District

LANGD was established in 1959 to provide natural gas within its defined area of service- Florida municipalities of Apopka, Winter Garden and Clermont. LANGD currently has over 22,000 customers (residential, commercial, industrial and transportation). 

About Elements XS

Located near Salt Lake City, Utah, Novotx develops, maintains, and implements the Elements XS application.  Novotx has been developing GIS-based asset and work management software since 2004 and has customers throughout the US and Canada.