an operating budget a year in advance is difficult enough.
Mix in aging infrastructure, some severe weather,
unpredictably heat waves or cold spells and some
unplanned maintenance and what you end up with is
a fleet of trucks out there day after day, managing the
grid, addressing faults, upgrading circuits and gathering
Now consider an aging workforce that is slowly
retiring, and with it goes hundreds of years of experience
every year. This is not a prediction of things to come,
this is the reality right now, and will continue over the
next decade, when a full quarter of the industry will
Finally, think about that aging infrastructure and the
grid modernization taking place; grid automation,
smart metering, integrating renewables, charging
electric vehicles. Every ounce of utility experience
becomes more important as greater emphasis is placed
on modernizing the grid.
Luckily, one of those pain points utilities are now
addressing is their critical voice infrastructure. Obsolete
analog land mobile radio infrastructure, dispatch
consoles and the analog microwave that interconnects
it must all be replaced. Utilities also have a growing
number of choices: P25, TETRA and DMR are current
digital Land Mobile Radio standards that provide greater
interoperability, channel efficiency and a range of new
capabilities. P25 and TETRA are tailored to the public
safety industry, while DMR is tailored to the field service
user, such as those in utilities, oil and gas, mining and
LMR replacement is not cut and dry any more either.
What was once the dominant means of managing the
field workforce, is now mostly automated, digitized and
delivered over smart phones, tablets or laptops. The
business value of LMR has decreased during business as
But as soon as a storm approaches, the LMR system is
worth its weight in gold as it serves to protect the public,
and coordinate a workforce that is rapidly assessing,
isolating and restoring service in incredibly dangerous
conditions. Most will agree, that the Land Mobile Radio
system is not optional, it’s essential.
So how do you drive up the value of the investment
during business-as-usual conditions?
Consider this: A typical US electric distribution utility
might have 2000 capacitor banks, distributed across its
operation, to compensate for voltage loss associated with
warm weather and/or planned state changes. Four times a
year, each bank must be manually switched over, by guys
in trucks. On average, a truck roll costs a utility $500.
2000 capacitor banks
x four visits annually
x $500 per visit
= US$4million OPEX each year.
LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT THOSE NUMBERS:
OPEX EACH YEAR.