West Va.-based Mon Power, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., is spending $2.3 million to install laptop computers in more than 250 line trucks and other field vehicles to enhance service and better manage repair work and reliability upgrades more efficiently. Mon Power, which serves about 385,000 customers in 34 West Virginia counties, expects the project to be completed by summer.
Viewing work orders electronically on the new laptops — rather than having to write down the information being phoned or radioed in from the company's dispatching office — is expected to help crews save time. The advanced technology displays detailed maps of Mon Power's distribution and transmission systems and flags the location of other company crews working nearby. The laptop computers also use GPS technology to provide turn-by-turn directions to work locations down to the specific utility pole level.
"This enhanced mobile technology will help streamline our work process, further strengthening our ability to provide Mon Power customers the quality service they expect and deserve," said Holly Kauffman, president of FirstEnergy's West Virginia operations. "The laptops will help our dispatchers locate and send trucks where they are needed and help our crews respond more efficiently to outage locations."
Other FirstEnergy utilities also are installing the new computer technology in their vehicles, which allows those crews to coordinate and work efficiently with Mon Power crews during storm restoration efforts. The new equipment is anticipated to help company personnel calculate more precise estimated times of restoration, particularly during large-scale outages, because dispatchers can immediately see which crews are on site and engaged in repairs.
FirstEnergy is one of the largest commercial fleets in the U.S., ranking No. 85 last year on Automotive Fleet’s Top 300 list with a reported 4,100 vehicles in operation.