As an industry, we talk a lot about enabling the outside consumer to create a better utility experience through gadgets, apps, and digital processes. But, there’s someone inside your utility who could use the same modernizing attention—namely, your field worker: the guy climbing a pole in the rain in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to deal with a transformer fire; the woman spooling wire alongside a busy highway in Henderson, Nevada, to upgrade conductors; and the fellow sitting in a clean, white truck outside a substation in Buffalo, New York, updating the collective health of utility assets in his care.
Utility field workers—from linemen to meter specialists—have been vital to this business since the business itself was formed around Edison’s greatest invention and Tesla’s greatest contribution. (Edison may have created the light bulb, but Tesla won the direct-versus-alternating-current tussle.) Back then, the first thing they had to do was string wires. Today, repairing those wires and the technology that makes it all flow is still priority one for a field worker. But a bevy of issues, from an aging workforce to more demanding customers to modernizing grid infrastructures has put today’s field worker in a different category.