The Smartphone as a Tool
Radical change in the surveying procedure: For two years BEW has been recording house connections with the App NAVA – to the delight of everyone involved.
BEW Bergische Energie- und Wasser-GmbH, based in Wipperfürth (Germany), is a company with deep roots in the local municipalities and ensures that even remote regions in the area are connected to a future-proof network infrastructure, including broadband. This involves major construction projects that tie up many resources in the company for a long time. In terms of a sustainable and affordable energy future, BEW therefore focuses on the digitalization of processes to facilitate daily work. With NAVA, the company says it has hit the bull‘s eye.
„With NAVA we have hit the bull‘s eye“
Users from the first hour
As an „early adopter“, BEW was involved in the development process of NAVA at a very early stage: „In close exchange with other well-known network operators, we were able to bring our practical requirements directly into the development of the app,“ recalls Volker Schmitz, who is responsible for the areas of contracts, technical services and GIS at BEW. „Since 2018, we have been using NAVA to record the house connections of the gas, water and electricity networks and in some cases also to directly measure the broadband connections“. At the kick-off event, all the important divisions of the company were represented, from network documentation to work preparation, foremen, construction accounting and management. Initial doubts as to whether a smartphone could replace the professional surveying equipment were quickly dispelled – both by those responsible and by the fitters on site.
High acceptance by the fitters
„In 2018, we carried our initial tests and equipped a first assembly team with NAVA to digitally measure house connections. The other teams quickly expressed the desire to use the app. On the one hand, smartphone surveying is much easier and faster than conventional surveying, and on the other hand there are significantly fewer errors” The smartphone as a modern tool has also led to an enormous increase in acceptance of the measurement itself: „Of course, the most important thing for the fitters in pipe construction or cable laying is that the lines are laid tightly and sustainably. The calibration and the quality of the as-built plan are initially secondary and for a long time were an annoying additional task. Today, however, the smartphone is an integral part of the installation vehicles and is taken out of the vehicle and used as a tool like a hammer or pliers when required.“
Accuracy of measurements
Also in terms of accuracy, original doubts were quickly dispelled. „We started cautiously at the beginning and initially had all house connections also conventionally measured by a surveying office,“ says Volker Schmitz. „This gave us a basis for making comparisons. The deviations that we found were in the range of 10 cm, so that with NAVA we are well within the specifications of DVGW, the German industry assocition. BEW currently uses NAVA for house connections up to 20 m in length. Of a total of 800 house connections built by June 2020, the fitters have calibrated approx. 500 with NAVA. Every single one of them brought time savings and quality improvements.
IT’s the quantity that matters
Meanwhile, in addition to its own technicians, a service provider is also equipped with the solution, whereby instruction in the app is always provided by its own personnel. More than 50 internal and external employees are now familiar with the app. In addition, there are eight specialists in work preparation and network documentation who use the NAVA Manager to handle the preparation and follow-up of surveying orders.
“The app worked well from the beginning and has been continuously developed.”
Digital all the way to the gis
The app enables paperless and consistent digital work in the house connection process. On the network documentation side, inefficient activities such as the final drawing of hand sketches and queries due to missing measured values or illegible writing are no longer necessary. NAVA‘s photo documentation has proven to be particularly helpful: „When mapping the connection in the GIS, not only is the pure sketch available, but the entire situation is visually recorded,“ explains Volker Schmitz. „This improves both the performance of the network documentation and the data quality in the GIS, because the employees have a three-dimensional idea of the house connection instead of an abstract two-dimensional sketch“. In the GIS, BEW uses a tool for house connection design with which all recorded components are captured in the shortest possible time. It is also helpful that the field service already has the possibility of visual control. The fitters can see directly on site in the as-built plan whether the house connection object in the sketch is correctly connected to the supply line. As a result, the quality of the sketches supplied is significantly higher than before.
Conclusion and outlook
„The app worked well from the beginning and has been continuously developed. In the future, we also want to make greater use of NAVA‘s form function to record additional information about the house connection, such as pressure tests,“ says Volker Schmitz, and he sums it up: „You make many decisions in your working life. With NAVA we were right on target and the app has already solved a lot of our problems.“
BEW Bergische Energie- und Wasser-GmbH
Phone: +49 2267 686-730
Phone: +49 5251 150-5431
Klingenderstr. 10 -14
33100 Paderborn, Germany
Phone: +49 5251 150-5420