One of India’s leading natural gas distribution companies, Mahanagar Gas Limited (MGL) was established in 1995 as a joint venture between GAIL (India) Limited and the BG Group (UK).
As of February 2017, MGL has connected around 0.87 million households, 2,800 small commercial establishments and 60 industrial establishments. The company supplies compressed natural gas (CNG) to over 0.42 million vehicles in Mumbai, Thane, Mira-Bhayander, Navi Mumbai, etc. It has a wide distribution network of over 400 km of steel and 4,000 km of medium-density polyethylene pipeline, connecting about 190 CNG filling stations with more than 1,000 dispensing points.
With the fast-growing city gas distribution segment, MGL is keeping pace with technology to ensure customer satisfaction by deploying IT-based solutions for quality checks during the construction of pipelines, etc., site safety and emergency handling.
Technology deployment for construction and safety
MGL deploys state-of-the-art technologies to ensure workforce safety and maintain construction standards. For instance, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system are widely used by the company to have greater and effective control over select installations. MGL has successfully deployed the system at 109 CNG stations.
The company also undertakes geographic information system (GIS) mapping for efficient control and monitoring of the entire network. The company’s pipelines are mapped through GIS on a real-time basis, which enables repair and maintenance on a day-to-day basis as well as in case of an emergency. In 2015-16, the company’s mobile GIS solution “My World” was enhanced by introducing the editing functionality, which allows updating the map of the network even from field.
With regard to workforce safety, MGL introduced the Work at Heights application. As of March 31, 2016, the app was under trial in areas such as Mira-Bhayender and Kandivali. It has the potential to curb delays in work permit issuance and the idling of resources at sites, thereby enhancing the productivity and safety at site. Meanwhile, the company has deployed the incident reporting system, which helps maintain accountability at various management levels, with regard to the incidents reported.
For system support services, the company utilises SAP and a centralised monitoring tool. In 2015-16, it carried out the integration of the SAP R/3 enterprise resource planning system with its existing information technology (IT) systems. During the year, the company upgraded SAP to one of the latest technical platforms.
O&M and customer care
To provide operations and maintenance (O&M) services and ensure customer satisfaction, MGL has resorted to mobile apps with a simple user interface. These include:
LMC mobility application: In 2015-16, the company rolled out the Last Mile Connectivity (LMC) app. Through this app, various operations can be carried out, such as recording material consumption, and timely payment to contractors. Through the LMC app, MGL also ensures validation of the meter serial number and reporting of house locked cases.
MGL Connect: In 2015, MGL launched the MGL Connect mobile app, which can be downloaded on Android phones. The app is available for download on the Play Store free of cost. It gives details of both CNG and piped natural gas (PNG) services. Customer convenience has been given utmost importance. For instance, for a PNG connection holder, the app can be utilised to recover bills, seek answers to queries, track consumption, etc. In addition, a picture of a meter reading can be taken and sent across by the customer to the company (through the app), based on which the bill can be generated. MGL Connect also gives location of the nearest payment centres. Meanwhile, complaints can be lodged with ease through the app. An interesting provision of the app in this regard is that consumers are not required to make a call at the MGL centre in order to register a complaint. They can access the complaints section in the app and select the problem areas.
MGL Connect can also be utilised for locating MGL’s CNG stations. For instance, while driving, one can locate the nearest CNG station using the app. The company is also working on a feature that will provide the estimated queuing time at each of the CNG stations. Such solutions are especially useful in metro cities such as Mumbai. The app also gives details about the availability of cylinder testing kits with the nearest MGL vendor.
Further, it can direct the consumer to the nearest CNG station or a drop box to pay the PNG bill. The CNG savings calculator is another key feature, which aids decision-making with regard to switching over to CNG. From information about CNG kit suppliers to tips on car care and safety, all features are available at one place. Through this app, users can also view domestic bills and payment history and make payments through a secured gateway. In addition, safety and security has been a top priority for the company. The app’s “Know Your Meter Reader” feature helps in determining the genuineness of a meter reader.
Features for PNG users:
- PNG customers can view their current and last three PNG bills and payment history, find the locations of payment centres, and make online payments.
- They can provide meter readings during the billing cycle by uploading a photo of their meter reading, which will enable the company to process bills on “actual” meter reading for the “assessed” reading cycle.
- In addition to this, customers can lodge complaints on any service-related issue by selecting the category or nature of complaint from the drop down menu. This system has been equipped to capture the customer’s message.
- The system has also been designed to send an automated notification to customers.
- To ensure the safety of customers and curb fraudulent activities, the app allows customers to verify the meter readers by entering the employee ID displayed on their identity cards. On doing so, the photograph of the meter reader will be displayed on the screen.
Features for CNG users
- Locating the nearest CNG station becomes easier with this app, which provides access to all the information pertaining to CNG prices as well as savings from CNG.
- Information about CNG kit suppliers and hydro-testing centres, CNG vehicle maintenance, car models available in CNG variant.
- Besides, this mobile app can help customers view and download relevant documents, policies and procedures.
Going forward, MGL plans to deploy more sophisticated technologies for achieving greater efficiency. For instance, an app-based surveillance mechanism system for monitoring the activities of patrolmen is in the pipeline. The system will provide real-time data related to pipeline surveillance. With regard to SCADA, plans are in place and further work is in progress to cover an additional 60 CNG stations and six sectionalising valves. MGL also aims to improve its existing GIS framework, which is expected to result in better operational efficiency.