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Power up your undergrounding projects with field inspection management software

By The Fulcrum Team
May 4, 2023

Undergrounding relocates overhead utility lines and infrastructure below ground. Cities and utility companies are increasingly adopting this to enhance the reliability and look of their electrical systems.

As these projects gain popularity, it’s crucial for utilities to use effective digital technology. This includes field inspection management (FIM) software. It helps streamline the process, ensures accuracy, and maintains detailed records.

Join us to discover the current trends in undergrounding. We’ll examine the advantages of using FIM software in these projects. We’ll also explore how it can transform utilities’ approach to these tasks.

The rise of undergrounding  

Current estimates note that at least 18% of US distribution lines are currently buried underground, but this figure is poised to increase.

Several factors fuel the increasing demand for undergrounding. These include minimizing the visual impact of overhead lines and enhancing system reliability. They also focus on protecting infrastructure from extreme weather, like hurricanes and wildfires.

Underground transmission is now common in almost all new US residential and commercial developments. Additionally, major undergrounding projects are ongoing nationwide. Some examples:

  • Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) plans to underground 10,000 miles of power lines, starting in California in high fire risk areas, at the cost of a projected $15 to $20 billion. 
  • Florida Power & Light (FPL) has been proactively undergrounding power lines in critical areas across Florida since 2018, with a total projected cost upwards of $35 billion.
  • Construction recently started on a $4.5B, 340-mile underground transmission line from Quebec to New York City, which will be able to power over 1,000,000 homes.

As more utilities invest in undergrounding projects, the need for efficient and effective management tools becomes paramount, especially given the massive scale of these projects. For one, it costs anywhere from $297,000 to upwards of $4.5 million per mile to convert underground electric distribution lines from overhead, while new underground distribution construction costs five to ten times more than comparable overhead construction.

Power up your undergrounding projects with field inspection management software

The benefits of field inspection management software in undergrounding  projects

Undergrounding projects are complex and expansive. They involve extensive excavation and installation of underground infrastructure. They also require coordination with multiple stakeholders. These projects need effective and efficient inspection management tools. This ensures timely completion, cost reduction, and minimal community disruption.

Let’s explore the key ways FIM software like Fulcrum can transform utilities’ management of undergrounding.

  • Optimal underground planning: FIM software helps identify the ideal areas for undergrounding by analyzing data on existing aboveground infrastructure. FIM software collects and analyzes geospatial (GIS) data on existing lines and the surrounding environment. It also considers factors affecting the feasibility of undergrounding. This enables field teams to make informed decisions about where to focus their efforts. Such data use leads to more effective resource utilization and quicker project completion.
  • Efficient task management: With automated workflows and notifications, FIM software streamlines the process of assigning follow-up tasks and managing workflows, ensuring that field teams focus on the critical aspects of the undergrounding project. Inspection software offers a cloud-connected, real-time communication and task management platform. This setup reduces delays and boosts project efficiency. The result is significant time and cost savings.
  • Accurate record-keeping: Accurate record-keeping is one of the most significant challenges in undergrounding. By providing a single source of truth, FIM software provides stakeholders with a unified, up-to-date source for location and condition of buried utilities. With no guesswork as to where everything is buried, FIM software avoids costly errors and delays when addressing future maintenance needs or planning new construction projects.
  • Centralized collaboration: A centralized FIM platform ensures that all contractors, remote teams, subcontractors, and employees have access to the same accurate information. This consistency promotes better decision-making, reduces the potential for errors, and leads to better communication between teams. With improved collaboration, teams can work more effectively to resolve issues and help the project cross the finish line on time and within budget.

Fulcrum’s value for location information for undergrounding

Fulcrum offers a key advantage to undergrounding contractors and utilities. It provides crucial GIS insights due to its automatic and default location data collection. Fulcrum delivers comprehensive location data for more efficient planning and analysis. It also equips field teams with relevant data layers from the GIS platform. This enhances their job effectiveness. Additionally, Fulcrum’s mapping feature utilizes Esri, a leader in location intelligence software. This enables the provision of vital GIS insights for successful underground projects.

The perfect match for undergrounding projects

If there was only one task made for FIM, undergrounding is it. Field inspection management software is ideally suited for managing undergrounding projects. By providing a single source of truth, streamlining task management, and offering powerful visualization tools, FIM software like Fulcrum can revolutionize how electric utilities approach and execute undergrounding projects. With the growing demand for undergrounding and the increasing complexity of these tasks, now is the time to invest in a robust FIM solution that always keeps the lights on. 

To harness the power of FIM software in your undergrounding projects, the Fulcrum team is ready to get you started. Contact us to find out more.