By Cassie McClure
Published in Las Cruces Sun-News 3.20.22
Paperwork happens in all jobs. At Las Cruces Utilities (LCU), the traditional paper trail includes handwritten work orders that allow LCU crews to get the information they need to get the job done and documented. But, when a maze of paperwork slows down a process, it’s easier to go electronic.
The introduction of iPads for LCU Field Services team is starting that shift. In the initial phase, crews can now get real-time information for customer service requests in the field and know who might be in the area to help, without playing phone tag with their office staff.
“For example, we can get better exact GPS information for gas meters, especially in older neighborhoods where meters may not be in the location that we have listed due to renovations over the years,” said LCU Dispatcher Joshua Moreno.
LCU staff can expand their services in the field with technology that already comes embedded in the iPads, and even enhance it for the needs of Las Cruces customers. Moreno explained that there are other tools like language translators, accurate date/time stamps for pictures, the ability to remotely wipe sensitive data on any lost or stolen iPads, and a way for the iPad’s camera to measure precise distances from farther away.
“In some areas, our technicians have to contend with traffic in being able to measure lines and meters, so having the iPad do the measurements virtually decreases risk to our crews,” said Moreno.
LCU field technicians also have access to the up-to-date history for each account. “Did the gas meter recently have parts replaced and it’s still not working?” said Moreno. “Having this information in the field helps us make better decisions in our repairs, and we don’t have to call back to the office to get that information from the files.”
Moreno said another big help for field technicians is knowing where other staff is in the field, in case crews might need assistance. He explained that he’s currently getting feedback from LCU field technicians about new ideas that can streamline the iPad functionality with their needs and the unique needs of Las Cruces customers.
“We can reassign work orders on the go, say if someone comes in to pay a delinquent account, it’s an alert that can shift upcoming disconnections as the payments are made,” said Moreno.
Another valuable component of collecting data in one system is data analysis. LCU Business System Analyst Jeff Dillard said, “We can assess the lifespans of equipment and plan for a replacement schedule that we can program into our overall budget.”
LCU – Your Utility Connection. Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: las-cruces.org/180/Utilities
For emergencies, call Dispatch at 526-0500.
PHOTO 1: LCU Field Services Technician David Villalobos takes a picture of a gas meter to track a work order. In the past, notes from LCU crews have only been on paper, but LCU is now using iPads to be able to get more information from the field to the office in real-time.