Challenge


Federal regulations require transmission system operators to prevent the encroachment of vegetation growing into their facilities. The guidelines contained in NERC Standard FAC-003 require annual inspection of 100% of applicable lines. Considering this requirement covers well over 100K miles of line, most utilities perform these inspections from the air. Traditional methods of performing these assessments such as ground patrols and even LiDAR are costly and time consuming. Gathering the data on inspection history, problems identified, and actions taken that is necessary to prove compliance to regulators only adds to the challenge.
Distribution utilities face additional concerns such as:
  • Inability to effectively plan work to address vegetation issues before they cause reliability problems
  • Lack of real-time awareness of work completed by contractors
  • Inability to fully verify completed work with contractor invoicing
  • Inefficiencies related to managing reactive work in conjunction with planned maintenance

Solutions


Multiple utilities have successfully implemented KYRO digital solutions to support their utility vegetation management programs including mobile apps and web-based SaaS modules. With hundreds of users including both utility employees and various types of vegetation contractors, these programs are a testament to the effectiveness and ease of use of the KYRO solution.
KYRO in the Air

The aerial vegetation assessment module of KYRO was specifically developed to be used while in a helicopter for the rapid assessment of lines where those findings can be sent to the SaaS web interface for review. Users can evaluate the findings through a workflow which includes ground verification, vegetation removal, and final inspection to prevent potential vegetation encroachments. KYRO greatly reduces the time and effort involved with maintaining compliance by streamlining the actual field operations as well as providing clear documentation needed when undergoing a federal audit.
KYRO

KYRO AERIAL VEGETATION ASSESSMENT MODULE
Web Based Vegetation Management Portal

KYRO WEB-BASED VEGETATION PROGRAM MANAGEMENT PORTAL


KYRO on the Ground


The quick implementation and ease of use associated with KYRO make it an attractive solution for many small and mid-size utilities. The KYRO Vegetation Management Solution is one size fits all . It is currently being used by several small rural cooperatives serving 20-30K meters as well as some of the largest and fastest growing distribution coops in the country, serving hundreds of thousands of meters around major metropolitan areas.

KYRO Vegetation Management Mobile Features


KYRO's smartphone/tablet-based mobile collection platform is capable of performing:
  1. Ground Vegetation Inspector / Work Requests – KYRO VM comes with a digital service/work order ticketing system. Utility personnel create digital work requests which are emailed to contractors. The completion status of issued work is tracked via website.
  2. Work Reports - Tree or herbicide crew field production data entry into our easy-to-use smartphone app. Tracks time, location, type, and quantity of work. Sends email reports of completed work to supervisors/management, and feeds data into web-based reporting/data analysis system.
  3. Work Audit - Contractor auditing system which allows utility VM staff to locate and view completed work and perform a formal audit of work quantity and quality.
  4. Field Cruise - A field form that allows rapid collection and categorization of circuit vegetation condition.
  5. Client Reference Documents - A library of utility reference documents available to all mobile users (work specification, contact lists, system maps, etc).
  6. Crew Location Reports - Interactive email report allows for immediate navigation directions to crew locations, and provides a real-time web map of all locations that can be seen by supervisors, dispatch, etc.
  7. Photo documentation - Most field forms include embedded photo documentation with photo markup capability (see sample report output attached).

Office Features


KYRO VM provides email reports of completed work and other information that can be sent to individuals pre-determined by client. These reports are sent immediately upon submission of a completed form. Reports typically include the following:
  • Date
  • Map of location
  • Name and company
  • Type and quantity of work
  • Compliance Issues
  • Pictures (if any)
A web browser-based set of dashboards displaying key program information (including the following) is also provided:
  1. Work Request Tracking - Map and charts display location and status of utility-generated ticket work requests.
  2. Weekly Summary - System totals weekly work by crew, company, and work type for easy invoice generation.
  3. Map Completion Status - System tracks and totals units and cost of work completed by circuit or area and compares to historical information and/or forester cruise estimates.
  4. Spray Maps - Maps indicating sprayed areas to provide work completion in a visual framework.
  5. YTD Summary - System tracks and classifies all VM work for the year and shows total spending as well as monthly trends by company or work type.
  6. Production Tracker - Long term tracking of annual production rates and costs down to the company or crew level.
  7. Cycle Analytics - Tracks completed VM work by circuit or area and stores the data for long term comparison, such as current cycle costs and production compared to previous work.
  8. System Metrics - Automatically track and total the cost per mile, total cost, and brush densities at the circuit/area and system level for all VM work.

The Market


Vegetation management is often the single largest line item in a utility maintenance budget. There are 5.7 million miles of transmission and distribution cables across the US and controlling the growth of trees and plants around them is necessary for ensuring uninterrupted utility service. It is estimated that US utilities spend billions of dollars each year to maintain vegetation located near utility infrastructure. According to Edison Electric Institute, the size of the investor-owned utilities' Industry Capital Expenditures was valued at US $139.8 billion in 2020. Add to that a report published by FTI Consulting, Inc., through its work for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and National Cooperative Services Corp., that found electric cooperatives contributed US $60.3 billion of capital investment between 2013 and 2017. Based on past performance, expectations are that these numbers will grow at a rate of 15 to 20% each year.

Return on Investment


Clients utilizing the KYRO Vegetation Management Solution have seen overall program savings of 10-20% of their spend on the vegetation management budget through:
  • Faster in-house vegetation condition assessments
  • Data driven prioritization of work
  • Reduced excess contingency built into lump sum bids from contractors due to more accurate system condition data
  • Reduced truck rolls due to unnecessary reactive work
  • Identifying contractor production or invoicing issues before they become a problem
  • Eliminating the time needed to manually enter and report on contractor production
For many utilities, performing inspections can be a slow, manual process involving many hours to ensure proper compliance. In the connected age, mobility and analytics are transforming many aspects of our industry, and KYRO is leading the industry by seamlessly integrating modern technology into everyday work.
"KYRO has provided a powerful solution through their software," said one of the Assistant Vice President’s at Cross Texas Transmission.
"KYRO has greatly simplified the process of documenting vegetation issues and completing work, ensuring compliance in an increasingly challenging regulatory environment," said one of the Senior Vice President’s at CTT's parent company, LS Power.
“I want to thank you for all your hard work. You have built a program that I could only dream of. I believe we are about to become one of the most efficient of VM programs, a program that many others will benchmark against,” said the Vegetation Maintenance Manager at Pedernales Electric.