The Background

Powerco distributes electricity and gas to 452,000 households both urban and rural, businesses, major industrial and commercial sites in New Zealand’s North Island. Electricity Networks are in the Taranaki, Wanganui, Rangitikei, Manawatu and Wairarapa regions, including the urban centres of New Plymouth, Wanganui, Palmerston North and Masterton, as well as Tauranga and the surrounding rural areas and the eastern and southern Waikato, Thames and Coromandel regions. Gas networks are in the Taranaki, Manawatu, Hutt Valley, Porirua, Wellington City, Horowhenua and Hawke’s Bay regions.

As the second-largest gas and largest electricity distributor in New Zealand, Powerco is one of only two dual-energy distributors in the country.

The Challenge

Due to the nature of its dual-energy distribution role and the geographical spread of urban and rural customers, the challenge of keeping customer data up-to-date is critical to Powerco operations.

As new customer connections are created for both Gas and Electricity, each new connection requires a series of datasets to be updated within multiple systems – a time consuming task for Powerco staff, and one that requires precision to ensure no data set is overlooked.

The Solution

Powerco engaged with Locus to create an automated workflow, which updates the appropriate datasets in multiple systems whenever a new customer connection is created.

These were completed in two separate stages, beginning with Gas in late 2020, before completing the Electricity process in February 2021.

The workflow is triggered whenever a new customer record is created, invoking an FME workspace to be run on FME Flow. The workspace performs a series of validation checks, ensuring that the source data meets the prescribed specifications, maps values to coded domains, and its spatial location can be plotted correctly.

Included in the validation issues are automatically detected, and reported on via email so that the team can fix them at source, and ensure the data can be created accurately

Once validated, the records are inserted into the appropriate tables, with parent/child relationships created automatically.

The collaboration between Powerco and Locus has evolved to be not only a professional partnership but an authentic and trusted relationship who slot seamlessly into Powerco’ s culture.The talented Locus team were able to work with us to interpret our specifications and business needs to produce an automated workflow using FME. This has not only reduced manual and tedious tasks for our technical asset team but has also ensured accuracy, integrity and timeliness of data being represented in our systems. We have certainly valued and appreciated this effective and productive relationship – Thank you Locus

Dianne Ford Campbell
GIS Team Leader, Powerco

The Results

Given the high volume of customer connections that Powerco needs to create, it’s very hard to quantify the benefit of implementing an automatic process like this.

However, by building an automated system Powerco has been able to release its talented technical team from task-based manual processing, allowing them to spend significantly more time on value-add work, rather than data entry.

Data validation on creation ensures that poor quality data cannot be entered into the system. The timeliness of records being created instantly also guarantees that where initial data issues exist, the users are prompted immediately – meaning that this can be remedied before it becomes a problem.  Accurate and timely data is created and available in multiple systems to enable business uses to make informed decisions about Powerco Electricity and Gas Networks – the most significant improvement to date is the ability to rely on, now up-to-date data during storm scenarios.

ent to date is the ability to rely on, now up-to-date data during storm scenarios.