Managing CUs and MUs in WFM with Nightly Batch Suite (NBS)

Managing CUs and MUs in WFM with Nightly Batch Suite (NBS)

April 25, 2017 — Sung Bae

Compatible Units (CUs) and Macro Units (MUs) are helpful tools used at U.S. utilities for both design work — such as a pipe installation — and estimate creation. Due to this, managing CUs and MUs in various systems can become a huge task to ensure the appropriate CU and MU data is shared accurately and in real time between systems. Systems used for managing CUs and MUs include work management systems (to manage work orders), graphic work design (GWD) systems (to create visual designs of new capital work), asset management systems (to track the CUs and MUs used per asset over its lifecycle), and sometimes many more.

By managing CUs and MUs through integrations, utilities can seamlessly move related information from one system to the next, and back and forth, over the course of the design, build, and management of capital work. At SSP Innovations, we’ve designed a work request system called Workforce Management (WFM). WFM was designed with integrations to GIS, GWD, and other systems in mind. With the 2016 release of WFM 2.0, we were able to include the management of not just CUs but also MUs. Today, I’m going to show you how WFM integrates with a common utility GWD system, S.E. Designer™, as well as how GIS and an additional solution called Nightly Batch Suite (NBS) — all of which come together to synchronize and share CU and MU data between the WFM and GIS databases.

How WFM Integrates with Designer to Organize CUs and MUs

In order to provide some level of detail of how WFM can bring synchronization and integration with CUs, I will use our long-existing WFM to Designer integration as an example. In Designer, there are multiple tables where CU data is stored. There are no out of the box tools provided by Schneider Electric to completely manage all CU tables to keep your data in sync across various Designer system tables, let alone, up to date with the enterprise Work Management System.

  1. Designer CU Library: SDE.MM_CU_*

One challenge of maintaining data in Designer is the CU library’s residence in the MM_SYSTEM_PERSIST_INFO table. This stores the CU data and CU favorites used by the traditional Designer Compatible Units Panel in the ArcMap Table of Contents. This table stores binary data about system favorites, CUs, and other bits of information as XML.

The only relevant out-of-the-box tool to manage some of the data is through CU Administration – Manage CUs. This tool can update the Designer CU Library and the binary data for system favorites and CUs, but it does not have the ability to update the WMS CU Library. In the end, we need to have some piece of software to synchronize all of the CU data in various locations in order to keep up with the latest information in a reliable routine.

Using SSP’s NBS to Help with Managing CUs and MUs

As a result, this is where our WFM NBS comes into action. We have three WFM NBS applications to manage the synchronization process of CUs throughout WFM and Designer.

1. Syncing GIS Metadata into WFM:

This application can gather all GIS features, defined attributes, and extended data, so, there will always be consistent data being managed through WFM.

Designer GIS Mapping example - managing CUs and MUs

2. Loading MUs and CUs to Designer:

This application appropriately copies MU and CU data from WFM over to Designer. Thus, WFM is the system that drives Designer (all MUs and CUs are managed through WFM).

Loaded CU data from WFM to Designer in Attribute Editor - managing CUs and MUs

3. Updating Work Request status from WFM to GIS:

This application updates all work request polygon status in a specified version. As a result, this allows users to interactively view work flow status through a visualized map.

Work Request Polygon data in Attribute Editor

Work in Progress

WFM 2.0 allows for the management of MUs through the MU Administration module. For a new WFM enhancement, we are applying GIS mapping of CU defining attributes and extended data on the MU level. Of course, we already have this available on a lower level within CUs, but in order to save time in management, we wanted to allow GIS data mapping to be available on the MU level as well.

We wanted WFM to be flexible when it comes down to organizing GWD items. Thus, users can utilize this feature to define GIS data on the level of MU, CU, or both. Our Macro Unit Administration module is light weight because the resource information is encapsulated within each CU which makes it cleaner and easier for the user to oversee individual CUs in the MU level. In addition, the user is just one click away from viewing the low-level details of specific components categorized in equipment, labor, and material per CU.

Construction Standard ELM for a Pole

Just to highlight the productivity of the enhancement of using a MU with GIS mapping in a design, I will give an example of a use case to favor MUs over CUs. Let’s take a case of a pole assembly in a work request. The screenshot below is the example of a MU that contains a pole, down guy, and pole assembly. Once this MU gets synced over to Designer with WFM NBS, then we would only need to find that 1 specific unit and place it in the design. The longer way to depict proper pole creation in the design is to identify and use the 3 individual CUs that make up the pole assembly. Using the MU in this case can really save time and simplify the GWD.

Load Pole Assembly MU

Once the design is complete, the user can send the design back to WFM where the estimate can be refreshed with all the MUs and CUs included in the design.

Estimate worksheet of pole assembly


Today, the Designer integration is just one of many examples of system integration to manage MUs and CUs via WFM. WFM is able to integrate to any GWD tool based on open APIs. More specifically, WFM is developed with APIs that support the sync of the WFM MU and CU libraries to any external tool to be utilized within a GWD. There are also APIs to allow an external GWD tool to submit multiple hierarchical designs back into WFM as well as an as-built design. Via ESRI Partners, we intend to work with several GWD tools in the future.

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Sung Bae is a software consultant at SSP Innovations, a GIS consulting company for utilities and telecommunications organizations based in Centennial, Colorado. Sung’s previous background consisted of quality assurance for processing science data from several space-based instruments. At SSP, Sung has gained a broad experience in automating GIS solutions via Read more

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