California Water Service Group Streamlines Field Service and Enterprise Asset Management with KloudGin on AWS

September 7, 2021


California Water Service Group (Group) improved work order throughput by 25 percent after implementing a field service management and enterprise asset management solution from AWS Partner KloudGin, a member of the AWS ISV Accelerate Program. The water utility, which serves two million customers, needed a mobile work order management solution to improve employee productivity and the customer experience. It worked with KloudGin to develop an AWS-backed solution that addressed the challenges that its field employees experienced. Using AWS services such as Amazon CloudWatch, KloudGin helps Group respond to more customer requests.

Searching for a Streamlined Work Management Solution

California Water Service Group (Group)—the largest regulated water utility west of the Mississippi River—needed an agile workforce management solution to replace its on-premises system. To help it meet tough deadlines in strict regulatory environments, Group turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner KloudGin. Working with KloudGin, Group implemented a field service management (FSM) and enterprise asset management (EAM) solution that seamlessly integrated Group’s individual workflow processes, leading to an immediate improvement in work order throughput.

Founded in 1926, Group serves two million people across five states. The utility must respond to various issues that could range from broken meters to major pipeline leaks. “We dispatch thousands of work orders per year,” says Michael Luu, Chief Risk Officer and Vice President of Information Technology at California Water Service, one of Group’s subsidiaries. “We need to send out the right field employees, make the repairs, and report the information back to our systems.” Until 2012, Group managed its work orders using a manual pen-and-paper system. To harness technology to meet its customers’ needs, the utility migrated to an on-premises solution that used employee qualifications, skills, and tools to schedule work orders.

In 2015, Group realized that it needed a more agile and efficient approach. “We needed to become more mobile,” says Luu. “We didn’t want to be tethered to a work PC. We wanted to transition to a tablet format. So we decided to enlist KloudGin to develop a more modern solution.” KloudGin, a member of the AWS ISV Accelerate Program, provides cloud-based software to automate work management processes, enable customer self-service, and increase worker productivity. The company relies on approximately 40 core AWS services to build solutions for its customers. In 2015, KloudGin began exploring a solution to meet the unique needs of the utility and telecommunications industries, using Group as a design partner. The companies began developing a pilot project to dispatch work orders for Group’s 1,200 employees across 30 offices, meeting directly with field users to learn about their daily challenges. The companies then used these lessons to develop an FSM and EAM solution. “You need to pay attention to the customer, and AWS has the customer as its top priority,” says Luu. “We use that same mindset to develop better solutions for our users.”

“You need to pay attention to the customer, and AWS has the customer as its top priority.”

– Michael Luu, Chief Risk Officer and VP of Information Technology, California Water Service Group

Developing Advanced Applications to Enhance Productivity

In 2016, KloudGin and Group released an AWS-powered FSM and EAM solution, improving work order throughput by 25 percent. Using this solution, the utility can schedule maintenance, access customer data, manage time cards and inventory, and communicate with customers in one location, enhancing productivity. “When you’re done with a job, there’s a lot of paperwork,” says Luu. “We need to record the number of hours, understand how to charge the work order, and facilitate contracts between different cities. The solution streamlines the process by pre-assigning where you charge your time, which automatically carries over into our payroll system.” Since the initial adoption, Group and KloudGin have built new applications to strengthen the solution, including mobile asset maintenance for above- and below-ground work in 2018 and hydrant inspection features in 2020. The teams also developed a solution that allocates assets based on estimated repair times, the environmental impact of a leak, and the presence of critical areas, such as creeks and hospitals. This application saves time on service requests, enabling the utility to dispatch workers before a major leak affects the environment and avoid thousands of dollars in potential fines.

Using the FSM and EAM solution, Group can complete more orders without adding to its workforce. It now uses a high-capacity scheduling and route-optimization application based on machine learning for all work, including customer service and backflow device management. The solution enables the utility to dispatch work orders to certain employees and automatically routes field crews to each job site. As a result, the utility can respond to service requests faster, reducing the time customers need to wait for repairs. The KloudGin solution also streamlines customer communications—for example, if a field crew is delayed for an appointment, the customer will automatically receive a notification. Additionally, if a customer needs to change or cancel their appointment, the tool will reschedule the field crew and create a new appointment to meet the customer’s availability based on the most efficient use of resources. This creates operational efficiency, reduces fuel consumption through automated scheduling, and reduces paper waste by replacing manual processes.

“At California Water Service Group, we have a vision of how a utility should operate. We want a partner that is going to support that vision, and KloudGin deserves a lot of credit for the innovation it is facilitating in the utility industry.”

– Michael Luu, Chief Risk Officer and VP of Information Technology, California Water Service Group

Group also uses the KloudGin solution to facilitate compliance with various regulations. For example, the California Public Utilities Commission requires Group to respond to certain service requests within one hour. Using a dashboard powered by Amazon CloudWatch, a monitoring and observability service built to provide data and actionable insights, Group can monitor its solution to confirm that it is meeting its regulatory benchmarks. By using the KloudGin solution to manage its work orders, Group now arrives at 96 percent of its appointments on time—exceeding California Public Utilities Commission requirements.

KloudGin stores unstructured and structured Group data using MongoDB, an open-source NoSQL database program, and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance. This makes it simple for Group to pull data in the event of an audit, further facilitating compliance with state regulations. “With the KloudGin solution, we can analyze all the collected data, make sure that the data is accurate, and generate a report to share with the California Public Utilities Commission,” says Luu. “And in the event of an audit, we want to have all the evidence that we met these requirements. Having elastic storage powered by AWS makes that job a lot simpler.”

Continuing to Explore Cloud-Native Solutions on AWS

Using the FSM and EAM solution, Group has improved productivity and gained centralized and efficient access to its data and is better equipped to respond to customer requests. Going forward, Group plans to develop more solutions with KloudGin. The two companies are building a tool to prioritize major infrastructure investments, using equipment data to produce a prioritized list of assets for improvement, replacement, and up-sizing. “At California Water Service Group, we have a vision of how a utility should operate,” says Luu. “We want a partner that is going to support that vision, and KloudGin deserves a lot of credit for the innovation it is facilitating in the utility industry.”


About the Author

Vikram Takru

Vikram Takru is CEO of KloudGin, Inc. He co-founded KloudGin with the vision of creating transformative field service and asset management technology that eliminates silos, connects people, process and technology, and creates access to information where and when it is needed. He is committed to delivering solutions that work for field crews in the toughest conditions.

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