Enbridge is a leader in energy transportation and distribution in North America and around the world. The core of Enbridge’s Gas Distribution & Services segment, Enbridge Gas Distribution, has over 2 million meters serving residential, commercial and industrial (C&I) customers. The company manages the lifecycle of meters and instruments, including meeting the Measurement Canada requirements. It also processes interval data (15-minute interval) for approximately 3,000 of its commercial and industrial customers, in order to generate billing determinants to an interfacing legacy billing system.
Recent market dynamics in Ontario have forced Enbridge to contend with large sets of data. Aside from this external challenge, the company had been using three legacy systems that served meter data management and meter management business areas on a 30 year old mainframe. The cost of operating this mainframe became too burdensome for the IT organisation at the time. To reduce this cost, Enbridge sought to migrate the three legacy systems from the mainframe.
At the same time, Enbridge aspired to improve business processes such as reporting and data access capabilities. The company needed to conduct billing for 8,000 industrial and commercial customers, 3,000 of which use interval meters, produce reports and implement custom processes for servicing meters. Finally, Enbridge wanted a system that was easy to use, scalable and could adapt to any market changes.
Enbridge used specific criteria when evaluating vendors for a meter data management solution. To name a few, they were evaluating strategic vision, vendor reputation, and technical architecture. The architecture needed to be open, scalable, intuitive in its design, and work with downstream processes. LODESTAR® Meter Data Management™ stood out for Enbridge because of its ability to process interval data, its easy access to interval data using Interval Data Manager™, and configurability/flexibility.
The configurability of the software proved to be very important during implementation, and the proven scalability of the software could not be matched by any other software vendor. Since Enbridge was working with 2 million meters, this was an integral piece of the decision process. LODESTAR and its people also stood out because of its years of experience managing interval data. Based on its overall fit for Enbridge’s business requirements and customer base, Enbridge chose LODESTAR.
LODESTAR® Customer Choice Suite™, with two custom ASP changes built in the web, was implemented in a period of ten months. The LODESTAR team proved to be a strategic, forward-thinking partner to Enbridge during implementation. They not only had a deep understanding of Enbridge’s business requirements, but were critical in architecting the data model, as well as many other functional parts of the solution. “Our LODESTAR experience has been a positive one,” says Will Akkermans, Director of Asset Technology at Enbridge. “Our relationship manager in particular was flexible in meeting our needs and our timeline. We would certainly consider LODESTAR the next time we are evaluating software providers.”
Since Enbridge has completely migrated all of the legacy systems, they will not only experience reduced operating costs going forward, but also better access to data than they had in the mainframe – thereby enhancing revenue reporting and monitoring capability. An added benefit to having better access to data and easier-to-use tools is that users are enabled and don’t have to rely so much on IT–especially for ad-hoc reports and mass data updates.
Enbridge is also strategically positioned in the market and will offer the LODESTAR MDM solution as an ASP to other electric, water or gas distribution companies in the Ontario market. “The prospect of offering LODESTAR MDM as an ASP is extremely compelling to us,” says Dawn Brotherton, Business Systems Manager, Enbridge. “For Enbridge, there is the potential to generate additional shareholder value as we become the market leader in areas that are not traditionally served by utility companies. Because we understand both business and technology, the quality of service that we will be able to provide will be very high.”
As for the market, other distribution companies will view Enbridge as well-positioned to provide these services compared to their competitors – especially taking into consideration that Enbridge now has a tremendous amount of experience in LODESTAR-based solutions, as well as general solution delivery and support of business applications. “For other distribution companies,” continues Ms. Brotherton, “this means avoiding the risk of incurring the sunk cost of implementing a large-scale solution without having appropriate IT infrastructure or organisational support – which is critical in supporting such a solution.”