Preventative maintenance management best practices for winter, telecom edition

Network hardening, vegetation management, and standardization for the winter

This is a guide to help you get through winter stronger than you went in. Stay ahead of maintenance deadlines and infrastructure failure by standardizing and automating in advance of December, January, and February. Follow our preventative maintenance guide to maintain your telecom assets with confidence.

Initiate a thorough and automated preventative maintenance program

Telecom companies have to prepare for weather and get ahead of impending infrastructure damage. By creating a thorough preventative maintenance program that adheres to maintenance management best practices, telecom infrastructure companies can secure their assets for the winter.

Doing preventative maintenance should be trackable, scalable, and automated.

There are essentially three steps to getting your telecom assets ready for the winter:

  1. Routine preventative maintenance
  2. Standardize your process
  3. Respond to disasters and crises effectively

Routine preventative maintenance

Successful vegetation management, network hardening, and asset maintenance are easier once you’ve standardized the steps needed to make sure all your assets are in the best condition possible. They become tasks that are built into your entire preventative maintenance program, so they become second nature.

In order to execute your plan, you’ll need the right tools:

  • You will need technology to enable your organization to standardize and automate your maintenance process.
  • Leverage project templates and checklists to reduce human error and keep your team on the same page.
  • Empower field teams with a mobile app to take pictures of overgrowth around telecom assets.

When managers can track and attack issues they can be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to maintenance.   

The ability to standardize the execution of your storm and winter readiness program depends heavily on the preventative maintenance software your company chooses. Make sure to choose a preventative maintenance planning solution that reduces rework such as double data entry by leveraging project templates and mobile checklists. In the long term, investment in asset management maintenance will increase infrastructure and network reliability.  

Below are some examples of necessary work to do before storms and winter hit:

Network Hardening and Network Densification

The process of network hardening includes improved designs for wind resistance and the use of upgraded materials for anti-corrosion. The most common hardening practice for wireless critical infrastructure is upgrading towers and assets from other cell sites with stronger materials. All cell sites should be built to meet or exceed state structural standards. And, with recent and continuing network densification, there are more cell sites now more than ever.

Network densification brings the telecom industry great promise, but also a large mountain to climb. The number of cell sites increased by 52% in the last 10 years according to CTIA. That large number will continue to grow with the race to 5G and future wireless infrastructure development. More cell sites means more maintenance.

It becomes almost impossible to track which assets are at risk when you’re managing hundreds or thousands of assets. Spreadsheets and other antiquated tools cannot handle this volume and do not offer standardization, automation, or collaboration.

Importance of Vegetation management

Recurring vegetation management is a crucial part of executing a standardized preventative maintenance program. Vegetation management is important to keep branches and dying trees from falling on equipment during high winds and heavy snow.

  • Remove branches that are broken, dead, dying, diseased
  • Prune young trees that in the future may become a problem
  • Remove entire trees that are dead or diseased

Standardizing the process for vegetation management would reduce rework. For example, a field worker with a SaaS-based mobile app can be more productive. He or she could snap a photo of the tree, note its proximity to the asset, remark on the danger level, and recommend an appropriate course of action. All of these fields are predetermined when using a mobile checklist and are immediately sent back to the office immediately. Not only are you collecting consistent data, but you’re able to see the new information in real time. With a complete view of the status of your telecom assets, you can prioritize your maintenance before winter.

Standardize your process

In order to build a proper foundation, standardize your processes, and align your technology with those processes. We call this operational excellence and it can greatly optimize your business activities.

A project management mobile app to empower field teams

Use an industry-leading project management mobile app to empower field teams.

  • Quickly and easily update records by uploading photos, videos, and comments to document activities, verify inspections, and increase data quality.
  • Guide your mobile teams by configuring checklists that inspections, upgrades, and maintenance are completed quickly, easily and thoroughly.
  • Eliminate unnecessary delays by viewing recent records, favoriting important projects, and searching for nearby sites. This will help you get the most out of your time in the field.

Get your whole team on the same page

Project management is not simply managing the process of maintaining or upgrading an asset, it’s managing people and relationships. Telecom field teams have to be dispatched efficiently to tackle the vegetation management and preventative maintenance. These tasks must be done to keep critical infrastructure operational. Damaged from the impending rain, wind, and snow can severely harm your infrastructure.  

Respond to disasters and crises effectively

Winter is coming. In many areas, the weather is becoming harsher and more challenging than ever before. Wind speeds are increasing, snowfall is reaching record highs, and temperatures are dropping rapidly. Every year, telecom companies have a huge maintenance challenge ahead of them when winter approaches. Falling branches, heavy snow, and high winds all have the potential to do serious harm. Cell towers, small cells, and all outdoor assets are at risk. Preventative maintenance such as vegetation management is as important as a quick response to emergencies. But emergencies are bound to occur and your company has to be ready to respond quickly. No network is immune. Carriers need to have backup power sources at key sites, as well as field teams that can deploy to restore communications if outages do occur.

Don’t let inadequate technology get in the way of restoring critical services. There is a much better solution. Use a mobile app with offline capabilities to make updates and confirm critical details to get the repairs done faster. Coordinate teams between the field and the office and use mobile maps to quickly find nearby sites in need of repair. Keeping critical infrastructure operational is crucial all year long, but especially during the winter. A standardized preventative maintenance program will keep telecom’s critical infrastructure ready for the most extreme mother nature has to offer.

Sitetracker solves the challenge of preventative maintenance for a high volume of critical infrastructure projects. The solution makes it easy to track all project and asset information in real time. Sitetracker leverages automation and standardization to ensure that companies can be proactive and get ahead of issues.

Get a live demo to ensure you can prepare your telecom assets for seasonal changes.