Grafton Technologies Teams up with Norfield to Create Operational Efficiencies

Grafton Technologies Inc. has provided broadband, television, and telephone services to the residents of Illinois for over 100 years. Throughout that time, the world of technology has changed dramatically, however, our team at Grafton Technologies Inc. has always remained relevant by adapting to the ever-changing needs of our customers. They want reliable and hi-speed internet service as well as digital TV services with superior picture quality and sound. To satisfy our customers in this age of every-changing technology, we must constantly upgrade and expand our network. To do this, we look at partners in the damage prevention industry to provide the technology we need to optimize these premium services.

The Challenge

Grafton Technologies Inc. has a complex underground fiber network. To keep the surrounding community safe, utilities and pipes must be identified before more fiber is laid or excavation occurs nearby. Several thousand tickets are processed annually to locate utilities around our facilities in partnership with the state of Illinois 811 contact center JULIE (Joint Utility Locating Information to Excavators). It’s imperative that these locates are accurate to protect the infrastructure and maintain service to our customer base. Also important is that our critical facilities have no downtime as excavation takes place near and within our fiber network.

Our previous process of managing tickets sent to us by JULIE was outdated with emails, paper maps and unorganized data and pictures. Our team of locators needed a software system that could provide operational efficiencies, time savings and a web-based and digital experience to bring us into the 21st century.

After being informed by our customer billing software vendor about an add-on that allowed One-Call ticket management through their software, we decided to explore a ticket management solution. We discovered an almost urgent need to update our process with a technologybased solution. We compiled our list of requirements and set out to find ticket management software vendors.

Our requirements included the following list:
1. Software that is easy for all our team to use
2. Unlimited types of users – admin, internal locators, contract locators
3. Mobile friendly user interface for in-field use
4. Dig site image capture via several methods
5. Accurate GIS mapping and tools
6. Automated assignment rules for locators
7. A variety of notification methods
8. Electronic Positive Response (EPR)
9. Reporting and analytics
10. Offline mode

As we began reviewing solutions from various vendors with our list of requirements, we were able to narrow down the field to those require-ments that mattered the most to our team. Price and/or lack of features removed many vendors from consideration. We eventually chose one software provider that had a great balance of the requirements, fit our budget, and could be implemented in a relatively short time frame.

The Solution

We chose Norfield’s LOCATOR LOGiX as our new software platform. It’s a web-based locate management system designed specifically for utilities and utility locators to manage utility line locate requests sent by 811 centers. The system offers the functionality we were looking for to manage the extensive number of tickets received by email.

Norfield Development Partners has been around for over 40 years and has a long history in the design and development of damage prevention solutions. Norfield provides the contact center management software and related solutions to sevenmember facility notification centers across the country: OHIO811, Colorado 811, Illinois One-Call System JULIE , North Carolina’s NC811, Southern California’s DigAlert, UTAH811 and Virginia 811.

Since Norfield is the current software provider for JULIE, it was ideal for our team to implement this software. Key reasons for the smooth implementation included that the archive history migrated over easily and they worked directly with JULIE during the onboarding and migration process. The Grafton team was basically hands off, leaving the implementation to the Norfield team and we were live in just under two weeks.

The newly launched platform is vendor agnostic and integrates with any state One-Call system in the country. Ticket data is easily parsed from other systems in the correct format and amalgamates with the software seamlessly. Utility companies and utility locators that operate in multiple states can view, respond, and manage their locate tickets with the required data and format as regulated by each state center.

Grafton Technologies now has an advanced solution that allows us to stay on top of the workload much more efficiently as our footprint continues to grow. The key benefits are that we can work anywhere – on a tablet, smart phone and in real-time in the field with reliable mapping tools. The functionality around the ticketing is highly sophisticated in terms of details, revisions, grouping, images, alerts, filtering and routing the ticket responses for the day.

“Key reasons for the smooth implementation included that the archive history migrated over easily and they worked directly with JULIE during the onboarding and migration process. The Grafton team was basically hands off, leaving the implementation to the Norfield team and we were live in just under two weeks.”

The Result

A key benefit is that the software provides seamless integration with JULIE adhering to local laws and regulations. Because we don’t have to worry about compliance, we are now more focused on delivering telecom services with no downtime to our customers. With this solution, we were able to modernize our location procedures with more automation, mapping, and reporting tools which saves us time and improves our internal processes.

Overall, this solution has enabled our Locate team to work more efficiently throughout their day by using the routing and map view feature within the software to reduce drive time. The offline mode functionality is especially beneficial when the Locate team works in areas of limited mobile data service. Adding notes and information in real-time to relay back to dispatch from the field regarding high priority facilities for our watch and protect program has become an essential part of our new process.

Whether you are an 811 center, utility company or an excavator, the new LOGiX Platform developed by the Norfield engineering team is really focused on two things – safety and how we eliminate those unnecessary infrastructure costs as a result of errors.

Andy Hamilton, OSP Supervisor at Grafton Technologies Inc., has 20 years of experience in telecommunications and damage prevention. He can be reached at April Mitchell, Chief Marketing Officer at Norfield, is an award-winning author and a marketing executive with experience in B2B, B2C, technology and non-profit organizations. She can be reached at