The future of electric vehicles (EVs) presents a looming challenge. The projected demand for public EV charging stations will place the US electrical grid under immense strain.
The current Administration has earmarked $7.5 billion for EV charging, including building a national network of 500,000 chargers. And yet 70% of the US grid is over 25 years old and beginning to show its age.
The onus to adapt and evolve the supporting infrastructure to future-proof this demand mostly falls on electrical utilities. But without strategic foresight and planning, the potential shortfall in charging infrastructure will hold back the EV revolution.
More productive and efficient inspections of transmission and distribution (T&D) lines can anticipate many potential pitfalls of this transition. However, this can’t be achieved with the outdated tools and methods on which many utilities still rely. In today’s digital age, utilities need state-of-the-art data collection platforms to optimize these inspections.
Join us as we explore how cutting-edge data collection platforms help utilities proactively build grid resilience for the next phase of sustainable transportation.
The crucial role of inspections in an EV world
EV growth demands a seamless and efficient energy supply, which in turn requires an electric grid in optimal condition.
Inspections, especially of T&D lines, are a foundational pillar in this process. As demand surges, regular inspections help identify potential vulnerabilities, areas needing upgrades, and stress points. Any lapse in inspections could affect the availability of both EV chargers and the broader stability of the electrical infrastructure.
But in the face of the rapid EV growth, the traditional approach to inspections is no longer sufficient. For one, pen-and-paper inspections – inefficient and prone to error – are inadequate given the complexity and high-stakes of the task. And while helicopters, trucks, drones, and ground teams remain indispensable, inspections still need to be smarter, more efficient, and driven by real-time data.
For grids to evolve and remain resilient, the inspection process needs to be enhanced by data collection platforms. More than just adopting new technology for the sake of it, harnessing the inherent power of data collection platforms helps utilities derive actionable insights, prioritize interventions, and streamline operations – all prerequisites to maintaining an EV-ready grid.
How data platforms secure an EV-ready grid
As challenges and demands surrounding EV multiply, utilities face an ever-evolving puzzle of grid management. Inspections, maintenance, and upgrades are vital to solve these challenges. But the real key to a truly efficient and responsive EV-ready grid lies in data.
Decisions regarding efficient grid reinforcement, inspection, upgrade, and management, need accurate, timely, and actionable data. However, the traditional manual collection methods simply can’t keep pace with the dynamic needs of a modern EV grid.
This is where leading data collection platforms like Fulcrum can play a transformative role in the grid inspection process. Here are just a few features that enhance the inspection process and help utilities ready for their grid’s evolution:
With digital data collection platforms, field inspection teams no longer reactively operate on guesswork or routine.
- Geolocation and digital maps help dispatch teams exactly where they need to be, reducing wasted time.
- Cloud-connected, managers send teams off with the latest SOPs that can be updated on the fly, ensuring teams always operate with the most relevant procedures.
- Inspections also benefit from real-time reporting, allowing for more timely decisions and on-the-spot adjustments, reducing downtime, and amplifying productivity.
- Automated scheduling also prioritizes tasks based on urgency, promptly addressing critical issues.
- All told, by leveraging automation, notification, real-time data and cloud capabilities, utilities can revolutionize their inspection process. Our EV future requires an intelligent dispatching that proactively maximizes the efficiency and impact of each inspection.
In a rapidly changing inspection environment, field teams need more than just tools – they need guidance.
- Data collection platforms facilitate real-time communication between field teams and managers, ensuring expert guidance is always there to solve even the most unexpected challenges.
- Through features like digital checklists embedded with SOPs, visual guidance like photos and maps, and instant cloud-based updates, even less experienced teams can confidently carry out complex inspections, knowing they have a wealth of knowledge and experience backing them up at every step.
Accurate and Reliable Data Collection
As public EV charging stations become more widespread, the granularity and precision of data become paramount.
- The sheer number of data points that utilities must capture to ensure grid resilience is staggering. In this context, traditional paper-and-pen inspections are clearly not cut out for accurate and reliable data collection.
- Digital platforms excel at capturing a wide range of data points, from charging station wear to grid load patterns. This comprehensive data collection enhances both individual inspections and overall grid resilience.
- Weaving a rich data tapestry allows utilities to forecast challenges, preemptively address potential grid stress points, and design strategies that are more than just responsive to EV demand, but truly proactive.
The benefits of data collection platforms extend well beyond these pivotal aspects. For instance, integrating data sources like sensors, smart devices and meters helps utilities build a comprehensive understanding of grid health. And predictive analytics can help forecast potential problem areas before they manifest, allowing for preventive measures.
Driving towards an electrified future
As the EV revolution accelerates, our grids face increased demands from every new vehicle and additional public EV charging stations.
And to build grid resilience, utilities need much more than just hardware upgrades to steadily maintain operations. This is about leveraging advanced tools like Fulcrum to institute a proactive, data-driven approach to grid inspections that fully realizes the potential of electric vehicles and ensure a sustainable and efficient electrified future.
Data collection platforms like Fulcrum supercharge the inspection process, transforming them into strategic interventions by harnessing the modern grid’s vast data. With data-driven insights, both potential vulnerabilities and expansion opportunities can be identified, addressed, and acted on before the EV future overwhelms our current capacities.
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