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In plain words an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is a central database system that houses financial, human resources, material, schedule, regulatory and work orders information about the capital and operational expenditures (capex and opex) of a company. It has various modules that display that information in a fashion that is suitable for various departments, functions and levels of an organization. An ERP system today is a crucial tool for utilities to bring greater visibility to the workflows, resource availability, productivity levels, stakeholder commitments and asset management. Access to good data leads to better decisions. Utilities have all kinds of useful and important data about their people, projects, asset health, contractors, facilities, inspection and maintenance, connection requests, regulatory commitments and documents.
Today, utility asset managers can have access to higher quality “realtime” data. For instance, with mobile devices with barcode scanners technicians can record and tag the results of equipment maintenance and test result so their values can be tracked against acceptable norms to flag any abnormalities that may warrant further inspection. If this information can be monitored and tracked for all major or critical equipment, then at any time there’s a good indication of enterprise wide assets health. With data at fingertips it is easy to start looking for patterns such as assets nearing end of optimal useful life before reliability metrics start being impacted or risk of costly catastrophic failure start becoming unacceptable resulting in long-term operational savings.
In the early 1900’s when electricity was being distributed to the houses. Utilities were considered technology companies because they were laying the foundation of the modern life and there was a strong demand for electricity service to be able to bring light and connect time saving tools and appliances at home with perhaps the same longing eyes as there is today with the latest smart devices. Somewhere along the way utilities lost their cool and instead of being innovators utilities became known as bureaucratic and boring.