Portsmouth Water starts migration from custom mainframe to IFS ERP

Portsmouth Water has started switching over custom mainframe applications to IFS in a bid to improve data use and customer service

Portsmouth Water has started moving custom line-of-business mainframe applications to IFS in a bid to improve data use and customer service.

The water utility has gone live with the first IFS module as part of a roll-out due to finish in 2016.

IFS Applications 8 is being used to improve asset management and support Portsmouth Water's mobile workforce.

IFS will replace an existing mainframe system, which was becoming increasingly expensive to manage and lacked sufficient IT support. Water regulator Ofwat is also enforcing greater reporting requirements upon utility providers.

Portsmouth Water engineering director Rod Porteous said the firm chose IFS because it enabled it to work collaboratively to deliver the application. "We particularly like the incremental approach," he said.

Initially, Portsmouth Water is deploying IFS' stores and inventory management and mobile field-working modules.

"When we undertake a repair we use IFS to collect data," said Porteous. "Work requests are raised through IFS, which also interfaces with the street-works package – this automates requests that involve digging up streets and highways."

Tools for the mobile workforce

Portsmouth Water has 240 engineers equipped with Samsung Galaxy Notes, which allow them to work offline with the IFS Mobile Work Order (MWO) app.

Porteous said the mobile application is also being used to support water-treatment plant engineers. In the next phase, Portsmouth Water is set to implement the IFS finance module.

In terms of configuration and customising the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, there has been minimal customisation beyond normal system configuration. Over time, Portsmouth Water will use others features and functions from IFS during later phases of the implementation, such as linear assets, compatible units plus integration of geographic-information systems (GIS).

IFS is currently working with Portsmouth Water to integrate GIS technology, which will enable field workers to view the location and status of assets by using maps hosted on mobile devices.

The IFS application also interfaces with capital-works schemes, allowing Portsmouth Water to build information for business plans required by Ofwat. It links operational expenditure to capital expenditure to give Portsmouth Water greater transparency.

Porteous said: "We have 3,500km of pipes. We can collect operational expenditure and look at expenditure hotspots."

This information shows where Portsmouth Water has incurred costs on repairs to its pipe network. By capturing all the repair costs in IFS, overlaid with GIS data, Portsmouth Water will be able to determine replacement costs.

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