How Fulcrum Improves Utility Field Crew Agility on AWS
Utility companies depend on enormous amounts of data to keep the lights on for their customers. But collecting, transcribing, storing, sharing, and analyzing information from a large service area is a challenge, especially when the teams who gather and use that data are dispersed across a wide geographic area.
Whether they’re conducting vegetation management, pole inspections, or restoring power in an emergency, field techs need to know where they are, where they’re going, and what needs to be done when they get there. Fulcrum enables them to access all that data from the mobile device they’re already carrying.
Fulcrum is a no-code SaaS platform designed to drive digital transformation for field organizations without code, enabling users to streamline mobile data collection, automate workflows, and manage performance. Our utility customers rely on Fulcrum to ensure safety and quality, stay compliant, maintain assets, enhance existing infrastructure, and keep new infrastructure projects on-time and on-budget.
Fulcrum Architecture on AWS
Fulcrum was among the first wave of AWS native applications, which means that for the last decade, we’ve been able to focus on our software — not on hardware.
Before the cloud, companies would have to buy thousands of dollars’ worth of hardware every few years, and expend a lot of resources taking care of it. So if you needed something for capacity or experiments, you would have had to have planned for it far in advance. And in times of crisis, you were stuck with what you had.
Since our engineers wrote the very first lines of code that would become Fulcrum, AWS has given us the flexibility and agility to test a thesis within minutes, for just a few cents per hour. That means we can experiment and move quickly, maintaining focus on serving our customers rather than babysitting hardware.
Fulcrum is able to streamline architecture and operations by utilizing AWS Managed Services and focus its efforts entirely on satisfying user and market demands.
100% of Fulcrum’s code runs on the Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service, enabling a mature continuous deployment practice and low maintenance costs without individual hosts to maintain. In addition, 100% of transactional data storage on Amazon RDS Aurora for PostgreSQL has simplified management significantly and brought mean time to recovery (MTTR) to seconds.
Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) keeps all digital assets safe, durable and fast to retrieve. AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS) helps keep our customers’ data safe by enabling encryption at rest as well as keeping our operational “secrets” private and easy to retrieve and manage in combination with Mozilla SOPS.
Northpower Improves Electrical Distribution Inspections, Maintenance, and Mapping
One of the largest multi-utility contractors in New Zealand, Northpower, performs 85,000 pillar inspections every three years. To capture inspection results, field teams relied on Windows-based mobile phones and paper maps to navigate to and log each pillar.
The process proved challenging for several reasons. Among them:
- The technicians found they missed 10% or more of existing pillars because of difficulty locating them
- Their software wasn’t trusted to maintain data integrity
- The inspection forms, which were created by a third party, couldn’t be updated easily
- It took hours of administrative support time to process the inspection results
Initially, it took two full-time Northpower employees plus a third contractor to complete 45 pillar inspections per day. Once the team adopted Fulcrum, they were able to complete 60 inspections per day without the additional contractor, improving their bottom line. And pillars that were hidden by vegetation overgrowth no longer went uninspected, since their locations were fixed on a map within Fulcrum, which eliminated the need for follow-up site visits.
Fulcrum offers high network availability and low latency to all of our customers’ field work forces, no matter where in the world they are in with AWS Global Accelerator.