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Field Force Automation (FFA)

Digital Energy GIS Workforce Management (FFA)


GE's Field Force Automation™ (FFA) solution is a web-based Work Force Management platform that helps you understand your service business and helps ensure your service business understands your objectives, so the right field worker with the right skills and parts gets to the right place at the right time.

FFA is at the core of workforce optimization and allows companies to optimize the full life cycle of field service operations, including short cycle emergency work, meter services, compliance jobs, maintenance and inspection jobs, as well as long-cycle multi-day, multi-task, multi-person capital construction projects.

Applications

Create or collect work orders from internal sources such as ERP, OMS and CIS

Manage work preparation, crew mark-up and material allocation

Schedule and dispatch field personnel, subcontractors, special tools and vehicles

Track equipment under warranty

Configure and read smart meters on site

Manage spare parts inventory and receive real-time reports from the field

Key Benefits

FFA delivers significant efficiencies and cost savings to technical field service teams within large and small organizations. It can meet the most elaborate needs of infrastructure companies and helps ensure that these companies will met their challenges.

Key Benefits of GE's Field Force Automation

Optimizes resource allocation

Boosts productivity by 10-25%

Eliminates the use of paper by up to 70%

Increases service revenues by up to 15%

Reduces inventory cost by up to 10%

Reduces overtime by 10-60%

Reduces fuel consumption by up to 50%

Reduces CO2 output by up to 50%

Increases on-time arrivals up to 50%

Effectively manages Smart Grid roll-outs

Fosters end user acceptance

Increases operational business insight

Allows for better informed strategic decisions


Field Force Automation Overview

Differentiators

Accessibility: FFA offers device flexibility with browser based or native apps for iOS and Android®. FFA mobile apps support the user who works online or offline, in the office or in the field, or directly for the company or one of its subcontractors. FFA is supported on various mobile platforms and plays especially well on Smart Phones, Tablets and Laptops.

Flexibility: FFA allows users to freely define unique fields, screens, workflows and business processes, in most cases without vendor involvement, and to scale as the business grows and changes. GE's customers have stated that only FFA offered them the opportunity to configure the present state and enable the future.

Completeness: FFA is a complete solution that does not impose any limits on how far a customer can grow or change its functionality, automation, or what work order types he wants to support gradually. This especially relates to FFA's possibility to handle inventory management.

Low integration costs: FFA comes with out of the box integrations for MapFrame FieldSmart, PowerOn Classic OMS, Smallworld, and other GIS solutions as it is GIS neutral.

Proven change management: Offers pre-defined business processes and pre-defined domain specific configurations, like a meter services package, that are derived from the best practices of existing customers.

Best-in-class optimizer: FFA includes an auto-calibrating optimizer, driven by "Business Objectives" that can easily be tailored to business rules and priorities of a specific customer. It can deliver robust results day-by-day in an ever changing environment.

Portfolio

FFA Core Modules
FFA Service Hub: Manages work orders and schedules, dispatches crews, monitors progress, and collects field information. It includes a mobile online application, providing field users with mobile access to their service orders.

FFA Service Portal: A Web Portal providing a singular, personalized dashboard that allows internal users as well as customers, field employees and external partners, suppliers, and vendors to interface to FFA through the Intranet or Internet.

FFA Service Scheduler: Reviews many parameters, including technician skill, availability, location and other customer objectives. Using a unique algorithmic and mathematical approach, the Scheduler determines in real-time the best resource for the job and automatically generates the route sheet.

Mobile Computing Platform: Provides mobile users access to the data and applications they require, allowing them to stay productive regardless of location. The MCP enables mobile users to work in both on-line and off-line mode. At the latest release of FFA, native iOS and Android apps are available to offer flexibility across the enterprise.

Time Reporting: Timesheet functionality is used to automate time reporting, both time reported on service orders and time reported on other activities (travel, meetings, training, holidays, etc.). The timesheets can be used to augment your current time and attendance system. The field user clicks status update buttons as they progress through an order (en route, arrive, close, etc.) and time will be automatically calculated on the time sheet. Time sheets can be manually updated and a timesheet approval process is also included.

Integration Server: Opens FFA to other systems, including external Web applications. It also provides a uniform way for FFA applications to make requests to be serviced by external systems.

Optional Advanced Modules
FFA Inventory: Allows the mobile user to perform the standard back office stock functions outside the warehouse. These functions include truck-to-truck transfers, fast stock transactions, field tech part receiving, traceable parts installation and parts swaps.

FFA Datamart: Provides comprehensive access to all FFA data for reporting and analysis. Encompasses an incremental Extraction Transformation and Load (ETL) process to detect and obtain data changes from the FFA source system. One FFA Datamart can support both the Executive Dashboard module and the FFA Forecasting and Planning module.

Mapping Software Integration: FFA can use GE or third-party mapping software such as Google, ESRI or MapInfo for street level routing, geocoding and mapping. To leverage your current investment, FFA provides integration with Smallworld GIS through the Smallworld GeoSpatial Server (GSS) and with MapFrame FieldSmart for mobile processes such as documenting or maintaining assets.

FFA Forecasting and Planning: Strategic forecasting of demand (work) and the planning of resources (people, tools, vehicles, etc.), based on historical trends and projected future activities.

Performance Management: Improve workforce performance and customer satisfaction. Performance Management drives better decision making by providing direct visibility into accurate data and monitoring of your most significant KPIs. The Performance Management Framework promotes a balanced view of your business, elevates your ability to make informed executive decisions, and leverages the business value of your mobile workforce management.

      







Certifications



FFA is officially "ecomagination approved" by GE, meaning it is proven to deliver significant operational and environmental benefits. Learn more about the FFA ecomagination certification by clicking here.

Moreover, FFA is certified compliant with the SAP NetWeaver platform and the SAP Process Infrastructure (PI) solution.

The scope of the certification included:

Packaging

Documentation

Syntactical Correctness

Functional Correctness (External scheduling of service orders)

SAP Solution Manager Ready Functionality

Smart Metering Rollouts

Smart Meters represent a significant increase in complexity, necessary know-how and asset value in comparison to traditional metering. Utilities around the world are trying to determine how to most effectively meet the challenges of Smart Meter roll-outs:

  1. How to seamlessly coordinate all the different workflows?
  2. How to ensure that the customer has a good meter exchange experience?
  3. How to ensure smart meters have all necessary configuration and tariff information in place?
  4. How to support the meter service technician with new on-site tasks, such as setting the meter clock or accumulating registers?
  5. How to ensure full visibility of the roll-out progress so the overall schedule stays on plan?
  6. How to manage unplanned activities unsuitable for traditional "meter reading routes"?

GE's "FFA for Meter Services" package can provide quick yet comprehensive customer-specific implementations, and can also be offered in a "Software as a Service" model. The result is a web-based application suite that applies the benefits of proper workforce management to both Smart Meter roll-outs and regular metering. In most cases, only customer specific data needs to be loaded and the FFA solution is ready to go.

Pre-configured integration between FFA and Meter Data Management systems helps ensure that after installation, a Smart Meter is immediately connected to supervisory control and remote management, further accelerating the overall meter roll-out. In addition, the FFA mobile application supports the direct on-site configuration and reading of meters through an optical probe and protocols such as ANSI, IEC 1107 and DLMS.


Productized interoperability to provide a single mobile solution for all utility work orders

Traditionally, due to limitations in technology and the lack of appropriate solutions, utilities were forced to adopt a "stovepipe" approach in order to handle different types of field work, such as planned inspections or unplanned outages. IT and mobility systems were "procured and developed to solve a specific problem, characterized by a limited focus and functionality, and containing data that cannot be easily shared with other systems." (Quotation from DOE in 1999)

In contrast, GE’s Field Force Automation handles different types of field work including unplanned activities, such as outage validation and restoration, in one integrated solution, leveraging general functionality like mobile maps, routing directions and timesheets. GE provides a productized integration between FFA and the PowerOn™ Outage Management System version 4.2, which allows you to:

Seamlessly communicate all outage and investigation orders as they are managed by OMS dispatch centers into the field

Dynamically update the predicted outage location, crew and workflow status, estimated restoration times, and other key operational data
from either PowerOn or Field Force Automation

Electronically receive and process critical information from field crews regarding the outage confirmation, location (move-up or move-down), restoration time, cause codes, damage and repair data, and triggering the immediate generation of follow-up orders


The productized integration can result in significant operational benefits including:

Reduced OMS voice dispatching time, delays and errors

Elimination of crew dependency on centralized dispatchers to apply order updates

Ability to leverage all available field resources for planned and unplanned work

Increased worker safety through better information and validated location information

Reduced outage duration through improved communication, better information and less travel

Improved customer satisfaction and data accuracy through timely, direct updates by field crews to outage and restoration work orders