Information Technology at Work at IPCL

IPCL had already adopted various digital means to carry on with business and providing unrestricted services to its customers. The extended pandemic years with more waves of Covid 19 prompted IPCL to expedite its pace of digitalization so that it could
To fulfil some of the operational needs, ready solutions are not easily available, IPCL has many custom built platform to bring in efficiency to the operational processes. Most of these processes were built around SAP.
Few critical and notable applications introduced lately are as below :
1. Project Management System & Ticketing System for Specialized jobs:  IPCL has deployed a cloud based project management system on SAAS (Software as a Service) mode for tracking its resources, time and money for its ongoing project which is helping the team on ground to eliminate cost and time overrun and also plan well in advance to counter any deviations.  The solution also ensures that a Ticketing System is in place to keep track of Turn Around Time (TAT) for all specialized activities where there is a need for specialized team’s intervention. The Solution is capable of handling escalation and also provides a synergy in communication via  email , chat and recording each activities for future reference
2. Smart Meter Infrastructure HES & MDMs:: IPCL has deployed its cloud based HES (Head End System) along with MDM (Meter Data Management Solution) for which the Training has already been completed to help operations team to handle to most leading end technology. This infrastructure will help Team IPCL to leverage all functionalities and facilities which can be exploited from a SMART meter, it will also help IPCL team to better manage its network and consumers. With Induction of HES, MDMS and prepaid Solution IPCL will be able to leverage the Power of integrated data exchange there by connecting all its critical IT systems to real-time meter data driven benefits such as Theft management and reduction, Automated disconnection and reconnection, Demand forecasting, Consumer & meter management, Digital interface for consumer & IPCL team with better transparency, Deploy meter agnostic network, Deploy meter agnostic of communication technology, Instant Outage and Tamper event recordings etc.
3. IPCL moves to adopt NBIoT: Narrow Band Internet of Things (NBIoT): designed towards faster communication between device and serve with a very low packet size thereby increasing communication efficiency and mobile network challenges. IPCL operates in approx. 700 Sq KM where its combination of variable terrain thereby has uneven mobile network availability and had been a challenge for IPCL to find a stable mobile network towards meter communication. IPCL started exploring alternatives of Mobile based GPRS network and has tested successfully the leading edge technology in communication (NBIoT) and will be doing a mass deployment of Smart Meters with NBIoT as communication technology towards benefit of its consumers.
4. IVRS Based Consumer Complaint Logging System:Legacy call logging process available requires a consumer to call the Customer Care centre for his complaint registration or getting to know new requirements, in the process the consumers have to wait for the consumer care executive to be free to attend the consumer and his query, which at times becomes a point of dissatisfaction for the consumer. Towards Consumer Satisfaction and helping the consumer to register his complaint with ease and do not allow the consumer to wait for his turn , IPCL has introduced IVRS based complaint logging system. The system ensures the customer gets the complaint ticket over the phone automatically as soon as a consumer is validated and he has selected the correct option for his complaint. The Automated system will also ensure 100% customer complaint registration and reduce the chances of call drops
5. SOP Portal for Engineering Dept:A SOP Portal (Standard Operating Procedure) was built for engineering and operations team to manage SOP documents related to plant operation & construction jobs so that the documents would be accessible to all users in the company. This automated the work flow which was earlier purely manual and hence brought in efficiency the system.
Since the Company has adopted SAP as its core ERP system for over a decade, it continued on the SAP journey for compliance too. In the financial year 2021 Company implemented Tax Collected at Source to the billing system which was recommended by Indirect Tax Authorities as part of compliance. Section 206C of the Income-tax act governs the goods on which the seller must collect tax from the purchasers. The seller is only responsible for the collection of this tax from the buyer. Further TDS on purchase of Goods- Section 194Q implemented. It would be the first moment in the history of income tax that TDS is levied on the procurement of products. Section 194Q of the Act would engage numerous transactions encompassing the acquisition of products under this umbrella. In SAP one customize module introduce call Materials Tracking system at end user level. Module tracks those Materials which are already issued from standard SAP system and given to operators or engineer for work. Advantage is system shows exact consumption and unused stock of materials. The SAP integrated New Service Connection portal for new consumer. The Company also introduced Phone pay as a new online payment option which allowed real time sync on consumer ledger thus enhancing consumer experience. For billing requirement, the Company uses SAP IS-Utility software and it further introduced new traction tariff and other tariff categories to facilitate the new business expansion.
A parallel billing system has been developed for regulatory purposes. IPCL has often passed on more benefit that approved tariff allows. To quantify the benefit such that it is accurate and auditable, a separate billing engine has been implemented. It quantifies the benefits passed onto to customers for the past years too. For this a separate SAP sandbox has been created and we call it the Competitive Tariff Reporting System.
Data Analytics had been adopted at IPCL through the use of Business Intelligence (BI) interactive reporting. To make this possible, necessary technical architecture with data lake and data warehouse has been built and reporting was made possible through a BI tool. IPCL has extended this to all stake holder across the organization and all other manual reporting were eliminated bringing in efficiency in the system. The team automated these reporting through mailers reports too so that all stake holders were kept updated at the start of the day. The journey has continued during last year too when it got further extended.
The platform was further enhanced to include a dashboard for Target and Sales MU which helped to measure current sales and compare that to a target or past sales. Data Integration and development of Material Tracking dashboard for procurement team to track material consumption and actual balance left with end user too was added. Development Feeder Interruption Analysis dashboard to compare and analyse zone wise current & past interruption were also added.
Security in information technology was always a focus area for the company and it followed all security standards for past several years. IPCL had followed the best practices in security and had been compliant. Therefore, IPCL decided to go for security audit for meeting the stringent standards of ISO27001 so that it could enhance its security level even higher. As expected, IPCL was successfully certified for meeting the requirements for ISO27001 in ISMS.
ISO 27001 certification in Information Security Management System (ISMS) implies that IPCL meets the security standards of a framework of policies and controls that manage security and risks. On achieving this international standard we are now sensibly protecting the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of assets from threats and vulnerabilities. IPCL shall strive to enhance security levels on its information assets so as to reduce risks conforming to the requirements of regulatory and even exceeding them by implementing suitable sets of controls and policies, procedures and processes. ISO 27001, ISMS implementation follows a Plan-Do-Check-Act (PCDA) model for continuous improvement through its processes and people. This is very much essential in today’s threat-heavy landscape where robust information security is an absolute necessity.
IPCL successfully implemented Cyber Crisis Management Plan (CCMP) as per guidelines from MoP (Ministry of Power) through CERT-IN (Computer Emergency Response Team – India) who is the national nodal agency for responding to computer security incidents as and when they occur. Guidelines refers to advisories, vulnerability, information security practices, procedures, prevention, response and reporting of cyber incidents. IPCL designed a framework and identified various Critical information infrastructures which are related to cyber threat incident. The plan defines the incident, responses, coordination and its mitigation for the business, O&M, SCADA and IT Critical information infrastructure.
IPCL is one of the selected Discoms of India which has signed up to be part of Cyber Threat Intelligence by Govt of India. The involves implementing Honeypot devices in network which basically captures the data’s for cyber threat analysis. Its a National level key project under Digital India to provide safe and secure cyber space and will be monitored at the highest level in Government which is “Honeypots” for Cyber Threat Intelligence. Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Indian Computer emergency Response Team (CERT-In) are implementing the same on complete sponsorship basis. Once the devices implemented it will generate report which will be utilized by CERT-In to secure the cyber ecosystem of the country and promote cyber threat situational awareness as per their mandate. CERT-In will provide and maintain the hardware and software for honeypot sensors free of cost. The project aims for collection and analysis of Cyber-attack data captured through deployed honeypot sensors.
IPCL had bagged the prestigious project of installation of 350,000 smart meters in five towns of Madhya Pradesh near Indore from Madhya Pradesh Paschim Kshetra Vidyut Vitaran Company Limited, Indore (“MPPKVVCL”). The project also involved consumer indexing of all 350,000 consumers.
Despite Covid 19 conditions and lockdown conditions, IPCL had made good progress in the project. It had not only completed consumer indexing of all the target consumers in record time, it overcame several difficulties to move ahead with successful installation of smart meters. As in April 2022, it has already completed installations of 150,000 smart meters while the work continues. In August 2021, IPCL completed 100% deployment of smart meters in Mhow town in Madhya Pradesh, making it the first town in India to be completely on smart meters. Billing efficiency at Mhow had improved from 70% to 95%. IPCL thanks MPPKVVCL for the cooperation in reaching this milestone for the country. All SLA conditions have been met. Since Covid restrictions have now eased, the work continues at a faster pace.
With Govt of India earmarking Rs. 22,500 Crore for installation of 25 Crore smart meters, and providing additional benefits for roll-out till December 2023, the industry itself is projected to grow at an exponential rate. Using our experience and credentials of good performance, we also look to consolidate our position in the AMI business vertical.