This article discusses how a CMMS can help Utilities can restore power faster after a natural disaster.

Restoring Utility Power after a Natural Disaster

2011 has been a terrible year for natural disasters. Throughout the country Hurricanes, floods, fires and severe storms have caused havoc. Hurricane Irene alone caused a loss of power to over 5 million customers along the eastern seaboard. Some areas had no power for more than a week.

Many of the utility power failures resulted from down power lines, cut power due to flooding concerns, failed generators and other electrical grid problems. All in all the storm was extremely destructive. The question is can how can utilities be better prepared for natural disasters and how can they increase the speed at which power is restored?

The answer is yes. One possible solution is for utility companies to implement a CMMS system. A CMMS helps to insure that utility asset managers have prepared for arriving storms as well increase the
speed and efficiency at which maintenance crews document can fix problems.

Preparing for Storms with a CMMS

There is usually some warning before a storm hits. In case like a hurricane the warning period can be several days or even a few weeks. During this time a CMMS system can be employed to make sure that as many assets as possible are inspected, secured and are operating properly.

CMMS solutions give utility maintenance managers the tools they need by collecting all asset detail such as location, condition and work history. This information is then used to quickly identify at risk assets which can then be scheduled for inspections and preventive maintenance before a storm arrives.

Using the CMMS solution During and After Storm

Even if there is little or no warning, the CMMS when used properly will already contain the latest information on the condition of assets. In either case, this information is then used during and after the storm has passed for comparison.

During a storm the asset information that has been gathered is used to create an inspection checklist of critical assets to monitor. The inspection checklist, which are given to emergency crews using handheld mobile devices contain preset questions of what to do look for and instructions should a problem be detected.

The same inspection checklist can also be used immediately after a storm. When results are submitted back to asset managers, decisions can then be made on work management priorities. Work orders are then sent back to the handheld devices eliminating the need to return to offices or complete paperwork.

The time gained through mobile CMMS applications allows utility maintenance crews to accomplish more work with the same amount of resources. More importantly, the inspections process will also identify potential problems that could cause additional utility power failures such as leaning trees on power lines or substations at risk from flooding.

The early identification of potential problems enables actions to be taken to prevent power loss making a CMMS system an indispensable part of a good utility operation.