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Technology Report 2022 Case Study: 811spotter

811spotter Streamlines the 811-Ticketing Process for Excavators

Synopsis

In the multi-stakeholder 811 ticket ecosystem, protecting underground utility infrastructure requires each participant to use tools optimized for their business and role. For excavators, 811spotter improves internal processes and reduces costs while advancing outcomes for all stakeholders.

811spotter is a new 811 ticket management system designed for professional excavators. It combines organization, automation, and push notifications for instant visibility into ticket information, utility member responses, and documentation. This case study presents three companies that achieved positive business, safety, and damage prevention outcomes by integrating 811spotter into their daily operations.

By organizing and automating ticket management processes for excavators, 811spotter provides a range of excavating contractors with greater visibility into ticket information, utility member responses and excavation-centric documentation. 811spotter is currently deployed at 60 companies across California and Nevada (and is up-to-date with each state’s current regulations) and is actively expanding to additional states.

Tangible benefits by case study participants

Benefits realized by MGE Underground:

  • An average of 2,500 active monthly tickets under management
  • Automated ticket system complements the work of three employees
  • Yearly operational savings above $200k

Benefits realized by McGuire and Hester:

  • An average of 200 active monthly tickets under management
  • More time to focus on ensuring compliance with safety and damage prevention processes
  • The 811 process custodian can take vacation time without having to meticulously plan a temporary “hand-over” to another employee

 

 

 

Introduction

Protecting underground utility infrastructure revolves around a multi-stakeholder ecosystem where utilities, call centers, and excavators play a pivotal role. Survey responses in CGA’s Technology Report 2021 identified “ticket management for excavators” as a key gap with which the excavator stakeholders struggle. While several ticket management systems are focused on utilities, contract locators, and notification centers, solutions tailored to excavators are virtually non-existent. This leaves an entire stakeholder group reliant upon pre-digital, manual approaches that undermine productivity and elevate risk.

811spotter – a new 811 ticket management system designed for professional excavators – fills this critical void. 811spotter combines organization, automation, and push notifications for instant visibility into ticket information, utility member responses, and documentation. The technology is already deployed by nearly 60 companies in California and Nevada and is actively expanding to additional states.

This case study presents three companies that achieved positive business, safety, and damage prevention outcomes by integrating 811spotter into their daily operations.

 

MGE Underground

MGE Underground is an underground and overhead utility contractor operating out of central and northern California.

For Daniel Martin, lead project manager for MGE Underground, the human aspect of managing thousands of 811 tickets manually and in spreadsheets is time-consuming and can be inaccurate and present safety and damage prevention concerns. Inbound emails from the utilities, waiting for the green light to proceed, and maintaining detailed documentation of the process from start to finish results in a mountain of communication.

“99% of 811 callbacks are automated,” explains Martin. “Managing high volumes effectively is next to impossible unless you have a team of full-time people dedicated solely to that task.”

“99% of 811 callbacks are automated,” explains Martin. “Managing high volumes effectively is next to impossible unless you have a team of full-time people dedicated solely to that task.”

The company previously managed their 811 tickets with three full-time employees in separate offices. The thousands of tickets associated with eighty active work crews meant communication channels were overburdened with 811 ticket responses. Even with three dedicated employees, messages sometimes failed to make it through, and email confirmations were incorrectly documented. MGE Underground experienced costly down-days nearly every month due to their manual process not keeping up with ticket volumes.

  • Figure 1: On the main screen, users view all their tickets – with details of ticket status, expiration dates, member responses, and field status clearly displayed
  • Figure 2: Users can hover over the “Safe to Dig?” column to quickly see ticket status across three safety and damage prevention measures
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“Our other systems have ways of adding or loading in 811 tickets, but it’s manual,” explains Martin. “What really stuck out about 811spotter is its automation.”

MGE Underground’s tickets are now automatically logged into 811spotter, with relevant details flowing directly from the notification center. Users see the status of the utility member responses clearly and follow up on non-responses before it impacts their schedule. Tickets auto-renew until they are no longer needed, and all historical ticket information – including member responses – is archived and searchable to resolve any questions arising after project completion.

Benefits realized by MGE Underground:

  • An average of 2,500 monthly tickets under management
  • Automated ticket system complements the work of three employees; company growth in 2022 alone would have required five employees under the old process
  • Yearly operational savings above $200k

“This is a massive time saver for us, and now our teams don’t have to babysit their tickets,” says Martin. “Our previous 811 ticket employees can now be utilized in other areas that have a more tangible benefit to the company.”


  • Figure 3: Quickly see the response status of each member utility and document any communication through notes, photos, and files
  • Figure 4: After tickets are renewed, the system sends a confirmation email
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McGuire & Hester

McGuire and Hester is a California-based heavy civil, site work, and landscaping contractor with a diverse portfolio of public and private clients.

Rene Acosta, safety administrator at McGuire and Hester, works alongside a team of safety professionals primarily focused on enhancing the safety of workers by managing compliance, conducting site audits, and training site workers on safety protocol.

“Our main goal is to make sure each and every worker leaves in the same way they arrived in the morning,” says Acosta. “It’s our job to make sure every employee has the necessary tools and certifications to operate safely and complete projects on time and within budget.”

Acosta has spent five years managing the 811 ticket process for McGuire and Hester as head custodian - a role he says was made extra challenging by the lack of modern technology. The Underground Division project manager was responsible for marking out their dig areas and submitting the ticket online. The project manager passed the ticket details to Acosta, who then entered the data into a daily log - typically entering between 5 and 50 tickets into a spreadsheet each day - spending anywhere from two to ten hours a week on data entry, organization, and renewals.

“If we missed a renewal, it could cost thousands of dollars in delays,” recalls Acosta. “The manual process was a tremendous weight on my shoulders.”

Now, all tickets flow automatically into 811spotter – regardless of who creates them – and are quickly organized by job. Acosta can export tickets into Excel for streamlined communication to the field or any other job stakeholder.

  • Figure 5: Easily group tickets with an on-the-fly curated list of jobs
  • Figure 6: Export tickets into Excel for easy communication to any job stakeholder
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Benefits realized by McGuire and Hester:

  • An average of 200 monthly tickets under management
  • Automation means more time to focus on ensuring 100% compliance with safety and damage prevention – including more site visits and audits to help engineers and workers meet field compliance
  • The 811 process custodian can take vacation time without having to meticulously plan a temporary “hand-over” to another employee
 

Q&D Construction

Q&D Construction is a general contractor focused on civil, energy, and commercial building construction in California and Nevada.

Along with costly dig-ins, Jered Davidson – traffic control manager at Q&D Construction – cites the management of 811 tickets as exceptionally cumbersome. The company’s old system for managing tickets was highly administrative and challenging to navigate. With as many as 60 tickets expiring in the same timeframe, it was nearly impossible to differentiate between new and expiring tickets without sorting through them one by one.

“If we have to shut down a job for two days because of a missed renewal – that could mean one hundred fifty employees and fifty pieces of equipment that we’re still paying for – yet not advancing on the work,” says Davidson.

And because dig law differs state by state (California dig law allows tickets to extend for a longer time frame than in Nevada, meaning the latter expire sooner), Q&D had to spend extra time sorting tickets from each state.

Now, 811spotter organizes Q&D Construction’s tickets by job so they are readily accessible and searchable. The utility responses are visible at a glance, and when asked for ticket status, groupings of tickets take seconds to find and are transmitted to the field electronically. Most importantly, the system sends weekly notifications of tickets requiring renewal or redraw (in the case of Nevada), so all tickets stay active until they are no longer needed. And all tickets across both states are presented in a single, easy-to-use interface with renewal notifications tailored to each states’ respective dig law.

Benefits realized by Q&D Construction:

  • An average of 200 monthly tickets under management reducing the frequency of missed tickets and averting costly work-site shutdowns
  • Automated system does the work of one full-time employee, freeing up a previous 811 ticket manager to advance to new roles in the company
  • Improved visibility into dig ticket interaction in the field - which enhances safety and averts damage
  • Dual compliance with California and Nevada digs laws

  • Figure 7: Quickly search tickets by job [top right corner] or any other ticket information
  • Figure 8: 811spotter users receive a weekly email that lists tickets they need to renew
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“Anything that can save me time each day – that accumulates over the long term,” concludes Davidson. “What new programs and software ultimately afford is extra time to respond to unforeseen scenarios with more availability and agility.”

 

Technology as a safety and damage prevention enabler for excavators

While many factors contribute to digging hazards on a job site, the essential ability of an excavator to prioritize safety and damage prevention in the field requires the strategic prioritization of company resources and time. For many companies, the unfortunate truth is that round-the-clock, manual stewardship of 811 tickets creates management headaches, drains valuable resources, and increases the risk for dig-ins.

In the multi-stakeholder 811 ticket ecosystem, protecting underground utility infrastructure requires each participant to use tools optimized for their business and role. For excavators, 811spotter improves internal processes and reduces costs while advancing outcomes for all stakeholders.

811spotter is collaborating with customers of all sizes to grow, develop, and customize the technology to suit current and future needs. Upcoming features include damage reporting and digital submission into the reporting agencies, improved photo and file documentation, and a better mobile experience with off-line mode so crews can access the information digitally in remote locations.

 

 

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