Working on telecommunications hardware in the field can be a challenge. It’s not always easy to spot the site — sometimes it’s hiding behind bushes or obscured by another building. Managing a program like large scale and ongoing node verification, or making sure that fiber nodes are in optimal working order requires many steps. These steps are traditionally carried out over a chain of disparate tools that are jerry-rigged together. Tools can range from pen and paper to clunky, outdated software. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, for workers to verify fiber nodes efficiently.
Field workers and their managers need to be able to execute and communicate efficiently. The Sitetracker Platform enables field workers to communicate with their managers in a unified solution and enables managers to set the parameters for execution and communication. When considering node verification as an example, it becomes clear that process alignment can be achieved when using the right solution. When companies don’t use the right solution, the process suffers.
The importance of efficiency in node verification
Service providers are often contracted by carriers to verify the general technical health and locations of equipment in the field, such as nodes and ports. While verifying fiber nodes is a critical step in maintaining the network, it’s not a high-profit project for service-providers. In order to be successful, a worker would need to verify a high volume of nodes and maintain accuracy when doing so. Any misstep could decrease or eliminate profit for the service provider. This process is tedious and requires a high degree of documentation and communication. The required efficiency can be hard to achieve, especially when every step is completed in a different system — sometimes this means five different tools.
Sitetracker customers have solved this problem, saving upwards of 6 hours per project manager per week, by simply embracing new technology that aligns with their goals.
A typical, challenging day of node verification
A typical node verification is managed using up to five different tools for team communication, mapping, annotation, email, and progress tracking. So, let’s start the day:
- Look at your dispatch email to see which nodes are on the list for the day.
- Check your mapping system to see where today’s sites are located and plan the schedule.
- Drive to the fiber hub and measure the distance from the hub to the fiber node.
Due to the use of legacy mapping systems, the node is not always at its noted location, so you might need to use binoculars and other visual aids to spot the node.
- Access the node, which is often hidden in bushes, behind property lines, or ‘guarded’ by the neighborhood dogs.
- Begin the documentation process.
Documentation is done manually or in a similarly challenging legacy system. It’s difficult to find later and is not necessarily synced with other systems. Ideally, the documentation includes photos and detailed checklists but is often done inefficiently by annotating a PDF. To work effectively, all documentation systems need to be connected with no downtime when you are offline. Sitetracker enables teams to sync checklists and photos from mobile to the office, in real-time. Similarly, if the verification checklist requirements change, that change can be made to the checklist immediately, while the change is still actionable.
This process, as it stands now for thousands of companies, requires a lot of typing, switching between applications, and the constant archiving of PDFs using legacy applications with inherent limitations. It also requires extreme accuracy as service providers are often paid by carriers based on how far the node is from the hub or from another node. Working with static PDFs and multiple systems does not lead to accuracy — quite the opposite. Sitetracker enables field workers to work in one solution, leaving behind outdated tools and mistakes.
Service providers, provide the best information possible to your carrier customers
This job requires a lot of attention to detail in conditions that are far from perfect. It’s crucial that service providers invest in technology that streamlines this process. Aligning technology with project processes enables field workers to be as efficient and accurate as possible, making the process easier for workers and providing more insight into operations for those back in the office.
Service providers who are contracted for fiber node verification need to choose a better solution that connects their disparate systems and enables workers to be more efficient on a daily basis.