ESB Networks manages the electricity network in the Republic of Ireland, which brings power to more than 2 million customers. Maintaining safety inspection and managing assets are important aspects of its business. To improve its processes, ESB chose CoreRFID’s CheckedOK asset management system.
ESB Networks is responsible for almost 600,000km of power transmission and distribution cabling as well as the 600 transformers and substations. Its team of engineers operate from its distinctive fleet of yellow vans which contain all the equipment needed to repair and maintain the network infrastructure. This often involves lifting operations, climbing and working at height so ensuring safety and conforming to legislation is a priority but managing so many different assets with different inspection requirements, was a challenge.
– James Treacy, Lifting Gear Supervisor, ESB Networks.
The benefits of an automated system
ESB originally used a manual system to manage inspections and create certificates. This progressed to a PC-based solution using Microsoft Access database, but it still required data to be input manually, so it was open to error and there was the difficulty of keeping databases synchronised across different locations. Identifying assets was also time consuming. Items could be overlooked and, when equipment was moved from one vehicle to another, the history of individual items could be lost.
ESB Networks were keen to automate the process, identify assets more quickly and ensure inspections were carried out in line with appropriate standards. RFID offered a way to achieve this and, after exploring other solutions, the company selected the well-proven CheckedOK system.
On-vehicle safety equipment inspection
ESB Network’s 2,500 vehicles each hold 100 to 120 assets. It has fitted electronic tags to over 140,000 assets. Tags carry a unique number so the asset can be identified to the CheckedOK system. With equipment ranging from climbing harnesses and karabiners to ladders and other large assets, different types of tags and different ways of fixing them were needed, such as screw/rivet, adhesive, zip tie and cable fix. CoreRFID advised on the right tagging approach for each item and trained staff involved in the tagging process.
Initially, ESB planned to use one tag per asset but realised when planning the process that certain assets consisted of separately testable components, each requiring their own tag. ESB Networks engineers use iPhones with Bluetooth RFID readers to read the tags on the equipment. The CheckedOK software prompts the engineers for the inspection tests relevant to the particular item and collects data about the results which are communicated to the central database. Because the system knows which tags should be found, any missing or duplicate items can be highlighted.
The system can also indicate which items are due for inspection. If items fail to meet the inspection criteria, the engineer can schedule the item for repair or scrapping and the system will automatically email the details to the health and safety team. The system automatically generates the appropriate inspection certificates, which link to the inspector’s identity. The schedule of equipment for each vehicle, together with the equipment inspection history are stored within the cloud-based system and can be readily accessed by ESB staff and business partners to demonstrate compliance with safety legislation.
Among other features, CheckedOK helps ESB to standardise equipment naming and also provides one networked database of assets showing information for equipment on every vehicle and at each site. A quick visual indication identifies, lifting, climbing and load securing items (which have different report requirements) and provides a link to the latest inspection certificate for that item.
Details are also held of the last inspection, the asset’s current condition and any planned corrective action. Using the system, ESB Networks is better able to manage the assets and expects to reduce the costs of lost equipment and asset management. Most importantly, the CheckedOK system will help improve safety for staff, reducing the impact of accidents and saving costs in keeping the country’s electricity infrastructure operating.
- Much improved accuracy over manual systems.
- Less effort for asset & safety inspection management.
- Up to date reporting and automated certificate production.
- Better accountability for assets and safety inspection.