– Manhole and Underground Utility Line Inspection

Ensure Service and Safety  –



An electricity distribution company provides electric and gas utility services to 40 cities and towns in eastern Massachusetts. Service interruptions, impacting service for millions of people, are intolerable. Routine, preventive inspection is the key to finding, cataloging and satisfying maintenance needs and ensuring continuous service. It is for this reason that utilities have led the way in acceptance of the mobile technologies that PenFact’s XMD software embodies.


The company needed a process that would automate preventive inspection, eliminate stacks of routine paperwork, improve accuracy, and deliver information in reports that were easy to read and understand. It chose PenFact’s XMD software to inventory, inspect, and document its activities for two aspects of its distribution system: manholes and underground transmission lines.

Using rugged computers, workers inspect hundreds of manholes. This is a critical task as without it, manholes could explode, or and electric current could contact water and electrocute utility workers or pedestrians.


The company also uses PenFact’s XMD software to inspect 22 underground transmission lines: the lines that carry power in bulk that feed the transmission lines which run to individual homes and businesses. Those lines are oil cooled, and the oil levels must be monitored closely.


The utility chose PenFact’s XMD software to automate inspections because it is easy to use in the field, adaptable to the unique inspections at each power line station, and easily implements repetitive inspections for manhole inspections. PenFact’s XMD software provides for a direct flow of data to reports, which both improves the accountability of inspectors and improves decision making in the field. With PenFact’s XMD software, paper forms were replaced with electronic forms. Inspectors pick up mobile computers, preloaded with a list of manholes and power lines to be inspected that day, at the beginning of each shift. If a problem is discovered, PenFact’s XMD software issues a work order request that is sent to the repair department for follow-up. PenFact’s XMD software also creates reports on oil levels.


In addition to automating preventive inspections, eliminating stacks of routine paperwork, improving accuracy, and delivering easy to use reports, two other aspects of PenFact’s XMD software also appreciated:


PenFact’s XMD software eliminates the time spent organizing files, paper and people, redirecting efforts to preventing and fixing problems. PenFact’s XMD software’s multi-level, customizable picklists* standardized how inspectors report problems: inspectors appreciate the ease with which they can use nested picklists to select from among hundreds of reportable types of problems.


*Picklists are user-predefined answers or data that can be tied to a particular task in the electronic form. They are organized in an outline form, with subsets under each heading. Picklists speed up both the acceptance of a new technology, and completion of work.

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