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Technology innovations in electrical infrastructure maintenance and repair

By The Fulcrum Team
December 4, 2023

The global use of electricity continues to grow every year. In fact, electricity usage in 2022 was more than three times higher than in 1980, and demand continues to climb. A robust plan for electrical infrastructure maintenance is essential to safely meet the needs of our interconnected world.

The worldwide pandemic demonstrated how comprehensively linked our infrastructure systems are. The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) believes enhanced maintenance and monitoring is key to maintaining a healthy electrical infrastructure. Luckily, technological tools have made maintenance both simpler and more powerful.

Evolution of electrical infrastructure maintenance

The world has changed since Sir Humphrey Davy illuminated the first electrical lantern in the early 1800s. Today our cities’ lights can be seen from space. Our need for comprehensive electrical infrastructure maintenance has grown concurrently with our need for power. As a result, maintenance procedures have correspondingly changed.

Power grids and lines were originally laid and maintained by hand. Manual labor and simple tools kept the electricity on. Time-consuming and occasionally dangerous, those traditional methods of maintenance have given way to a more modern, technology-driven approach.

Geographic information system (GIS) technology is central to the new approach. GIS analyzes geospatial information so maintenance crews can create and monitor up-to-the-minute interactive models. Improved data collection technologies are equally important, providing rapid access and updates. These new adaptive technologies lead to system-wide improvements. After all, when you know what is happening now, you can accurately plan for the future.

Crisis prevention

Thorough maintenance of electrical infrastructure is crucial to both daily life and emergency response. Society requires electricity to function, and uninterrupted electricity depends on well-maintained grids and lines. Poor maintenance can lead to energy leakage and preventable equipment failure, which reduces overall efficiency. It also increases response time during acute emergencies, such as severe weather events.

Droughts, floods, and fires put significant strain on local power grids. Unfortunately, the number of intense weather events is increasing. In 2023, the US experienced 25 severe weather disasters by November, a remarkably high number. Rigorous maintenance is the cornerstone to keeping grids from complete collapse during adverse weather events. When power grids and lines are properly maintained, the entire system is more resilient in times of crisis.

While emergency response is vital, of course, electrical infrastructure maintenance does not have to only respond to current problems. Instead, it can also help predict, and possibly prevent, future issues.

Rise of predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance uses data collection and analysis to anticipate when damage or failure is likely to occur. By proactively ensuring accurate information reaches the right people, predictive maintenance dramatically reduces risk. When it comes to the crucial nature of electrical infrastructure, the potential is enormous.

If sensors detect a shift in pattern, then they can pinpoint and fix issues as they occur. For instance, if technicians map water tables and rainfall, they will instantly know if water reaches a potentially dangerous level. They’ll know which areas are most likely to be affected and when, and thus can effectively allocate resources.

Technological innovations in maintenance and repair

The success of predictive maintenance comes down to the accuracy of data collection. Inaccurate data makes for unstable models, which can lead to missed notifications and potential breakdowns. Error cascades can lead to lengthy shutdowns and costly repairs. Dependable, high-quality data collected and accessed on a single platform is the first step to building healthy maintenance systems.

Technology has also provided many other tools to improve electrical infrastructure maintenance, including:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI). Machine learning (ML) is a type of AI that learns and adapts without overt instruction. ML applies algorithms and statistical models to data sets to find patterns and draw conclusions.
  • Drones. Adaptable and flexible, drones can collect data, deliver items, and provide views to previously inaccessible locations.
  • GIS platforms. Modern GIS platforms enhance data accuracy and save money. Fully customizable, they can also integrate with other applications, programs, and systems.
  • Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT has transformed how electrical components and devices interact. It enriches monitoring and control and streamlines how information is analyzed.

A GIS-first data collection platform effectively unifies these diverse technologies, ensuring that the data captured is seamlessly combined. This integration not only enhances the accuracy and reliability of predictive maintenance but also optimizes the overall management and efficiency of electrical infrastructure maintenance systems.

High voltage power line as visual for innovations in electrical infrastructure maintenance and repairSustainability and efficiency in modern maintenance

Of course, energy production comes at an environmental cost. Thus, sustainability is a core component of innovative maintenance approaches. The OECD considers infrastructure to be critical to sustainable development, and modern tech tools make it more feasible.

The remote capabilities of modern monitoring systems mean maintenance procedures have become much safer. Equally important, instant communication makes maintenance dramatically more efficient. Rapid and reliable data collection means resources can be effectively managed.

Future-proofing with advance platforms

Well-maintained electrical infrastructure is efficient, resilient, and sustainable. Reaching that goal means preparing for a future reliant on technology-driven maintenance solutions. Systems need to be flexible and agnostic, with easy-to-use features.

As our electrical infrastructure maintenance becomes more tech-dependent, we subsequently need educated and adaptable infrastructure employees. Organizations must invest in skills development for workers as well as in new technologies. The integration of advanced platforms should become part of electrical utility workforce training.

The Fulcrum platform

Fulcrum is a GIS-first field data collection platform that meets all our growing needs for electrical infrastructure maintenance. A revolutionary platform that standardizes data collection, Fulcrum allows for customized alerts and reports. With Fulcrum, teams can deliver high-quality data in real time. In addition, the agnostic platform allows for top-of-the-line integrations. This makes it possible to connect seamlessly with Esri ArcGIS, email, SMS, and other applications.

The world used almost 25,500 terawatt hours of electricity in 2022. As digital transformation becomes the new normal, we need innovative approaches to electrical infrastructure maintenance. We need reliable and cost-effective maintenance that can leverage technological tools on an advanced platform.

Adaptable, customizable, and reliable, Fulcrum can help build predictive models, enhance efficiency, and boost sustainability. Linked together on a single, unified platform, these capabilities transform the process of electrical infrastructure maintenance and repair.


Discover how Fulcrum can revolutionize your electrical infrastructure maintenance – request a free, no-obligation demo today!