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A high potential configurator

EDF Electrotechnics, a subsidiary of EDF, which operates in the maintenance and operation of high-voltage substations, has reviewed the procedures for producing intervention reports produced by its technical teams. A change in methodology based on the adoption of Calenco, a document production solution developed by the French publisher NeoDoc. What were the challenges of deploying this new tool? How has this innovative approach to technical content creation impacted the EDF Electrotechnics teams? What have been the main benefits observed to date?

EDF Electrotechnics, unique expertise in the high voltage sector

A subsidiary of EDF, EDF Electrotechnics specializes in the operation and maintenance of high voltage HTA and HTB equipment and substations. A major player in electrical engineering, EDF Electrotechnics is present throughout France, via various regional agencies which deploy teams of highly qualified technicians to its customers. A sensitive sector of activity where interventions must be rapid in order to limit the repercussions on customers. This unique expertise in electrical conversion requires compliance with strict standards. Each on-site intervention is followed by the publication of a maintenance report, a complex document that must be sent to the customer within 15 days.

Maintenance reports: tedious but essential

Originally, technicians worked in two stages: manual note-taking on site, followed, once back in the office, by computer entry of the information collected. To compile readings and finalize the maintenance report, the technicians used a partly automated form created in Word. Each document was then checked by the branch manager, modified, and then edited in PDF. A situation far from satisfactory. This process was much too time-consuming, with numerous errors, in particular because of the double entry, the open fields of the questionnaire and possible omissions.

When working differently becomes a necessity

As explained by Jean Deschamps, head of the Ouest agency, when he joined the company in 2018, research had already been carried out by a working group to find a more effective tool. Various options were considered, in particular with the historical IT partner of EDF Electrotechnics. But after a thorough study, this solution turned out to be unsuitable for the technicians' needs. This is where Calenco came into play. The documentary production software platform developed by the French publisher NeoDoc was tested during an extensive comparison before being finally validated and retained by the management of EDF Electrotechnics.

Open, modular, adaptable solution, Calenco was able to convince. But in addition to purely technical criteria, other parameters tipped the scales in its favor: its human size, its start-up spirit, the simplicity of exchanges with the teams, the importance of the human touch. So many strengths that gave us the edge! Having a contact person available to answer each of our questions is invaluable, confirms Jean Deschamps.

The super powers of the configurator 

To meet the objectives of this change of approach, namely to save time, make information readings more reliable and advance in the digital transformation, Calenco has implemented a tailor-made solution, based on its configurator. It is a simplified and personalized interface that allows operators to enter data directly on a tablet in predefined fields, then to automatically generate the maintenance report without going through Calenco's web editor.

The deployment of the first phase, within the Sud-Ouest agency, the pilot establishment of the project, lasted about three months, after a test period that began in June 2020. The software platform was then gradually deployed in the other branches. To make the teams aware of this change in approach, remote training sessions were organized with contact persons, responsible for being the ambassadors of the solution within their structure. The transmission of information on the interface, its evolutions, then being ensured internally, for better efficiency and better acceptability.

A tailor-made nomadic solution

The flexibility of the Calenco solution made it possible to configure the entry of information according to variables (level of maintenance, types of equipment), thus facilitating the conduct of operations on site. The technicians only have to follow the different steps proposed by the configurator, which acts as a common thread during the intervention.

Another point, in order to conform to the visual universe of the EDF group, the Calenco teams have developed a dedicated style sheet. The reports are edited in PDF, in the strictest respect of the graphic charter, without this requiring any particular action on the part of the technicians; important point to facilitate acceptance of the tool internally.

Today, the volume of documents processed is around 450 reports. But the goal is to achieve around 100 reports per month after the deployment is fully completed.

An immediate perceptible impact for all teams

Switching to Calenco had a significant impact on the work of technicians and managers.

First point raised by management, ease of use. With the adoption of Calenco, technicians were equipped with tablets, to simplify note taking and data entry on site. A nomadic solution, easy to learn, even if not all teams are used to using this type of tool. The advantage of the configurator is that its ergonomic design is at the service of the user. The interface is functional and the navigation very guided.

An essential criterion in a sector as sensitive as that of the maintenance of high-voltage substations, the accuracy and reliability of information have improved markedly. The definition of parameters, such as the level of maintenance or the type of equipment, gives the possibility of defining input masks, a particularly valuable feature for technicians. The establishment of lists of choices and the designation of compulsory fields have, for their part, made it possible to gain in precision and consistency. Overall, EDF Electrotechnics sees fewer errors and fewer oversights in entries.

The third point put forward by EDF Electrotechnics is the time factor. Main benefit from this change of solution: the production time of intervention reports has been considerably shortened. Today, Jean Deschamps believes that the time saved on the drafting of a validated report is around 30%, with a real margin of improvement, because all the operators do not yet enter all of their report on the tablet during the intervention, either due to the lack of practice technological tools, or lack of time. This considerable gain can be explained in two ways: it is linked on the one hand to the reduction in the time required for entering data, and on the other hand to the reduction in the time spent in proofreading and corrections, work previously carried out by the branch manager. 

The workflow also contributes a lot to the monitoring of work procedures. The drafting and finalization of each document involves several stages: the technician enters, the account manager corrects, and the final validation is the responsibility of the agency manager. With the workflow, the various stakeholders can see precisely what is the status of the documents in progress. A significant improvement which made it possible to gain in fluidity.

Finally, technically, Calenco has another advantage over the competition: it is not an application. It is therefore not dependent on the various evolutions of the OS and makes it possible to overcome update problems. 

Efficient, flexible, scalable

Calenco is a tailor-made, highly personalized solution that will be sure to meet the needs of looking for innovative processes. After nine months of operation, the results are very promising underlines Jean Deschamps. Moreover, if I had to sum up Calenco in just a few words I would say that it is an efficient, flexible solution with immense potential. The Calenco solution currently has 54 users within EDF Electrotechnics, a number that is set to increase evolve very quickly.

On the Calenco side, we are delighted with this collaboration. “We are committed to putting all our energy at the service of our client, to develop the potential of our solution based on feedback from users. But above all, we are happy to note that our clients' employees are finally devoting themselves to tasks for which they have real added value.” concluded Florimond, Calenco project manager.