After remaining relatively unchanged for almost a century, utilities are adopting distributed automation as an answer to the economic challenges and significant quantitative and qualitative benefits in the areas of interruption and customer service, respectively.

Vegetation management has been a key issue for electric utilities, and it has largely remained a manual, contractor-driven process, with personnel on the field scouting (on the ground or by air) through the terrain and collecting data, securing permissions, and issuing work orders for clearance of vegetation encroachments. Using drones for surveys has also been helpful to an extent.

The combination of enterprise resource planning, satellite imagery, machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI) provide definitive answers to vegetation management challenges.

  1. High-definition satellite imagery combined with multiple sensors can eliminate the laborious process of personnel on the field manually scouting through the terrain and collecting data.
  1. ML/AI algorithms can process data to identify specific spots where vegetation might encroach or interrupt operations and help arboreal teams pinpoint specific spots for trimming or removing vegetation.
  1. Dashboards can spot alerts raised by the algorithms.
  1. Simultaneously using tree species’ inventory and weather data can further optimize systems.
  1. Integrated ERP solutions can enable further automation for engaging contractors by planning and scheduling work orders and tracking execution updates within parameters set by the budget.
  1. ERP solutions can be combined with mobile field solutions to enable field teams to capture details during vegetation trimming.

With the help of ML/AL, satellite imagery, ERP, and mobile solutions, the next new normal is fast approaching how utilities manage vegetation.

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