How to Save on High-Voltage Equipment Maintenance Without Sacrificing Safety


High-voltage equipment like transformers, switchgear, and transmission lines require regular maintenance to remain reliable and safe. However, the costs of maintaining this infrastructure can be substantial. As a facility manager, you may be under pressure to reduce maintenance budgets without putting your staff or the public at risk. This article will explore cost-effective ways to optimize your high-voltage maintenance program while still making safety your top priority.

Prioritize Testing Based on Risk

All high-voltage assets degrade over time, but some components are more critical than others. Work with your maintenance team to identify the equipment most likely to fail and cause safety issues. These higher-risk assets should be tested and maintained more frequently.

For example, you may decide to perform annual testing on key transformers and quarterly infrared scans on connections prone to loosening. Testing lower-risk equipment less often, such as overhead lines in good condition, can help stretch your budget further.

Extend Equipment Life Through Preventive Maintenance

While corrective maintenance costs tend to increase as assets age, an effective preventive maintenance program slows degradation and averts failures. Prioritize tasks like leak repairs, bushing replacements, and breaker servicing that reduce wear and improve reliability.

Preventive maintenance yields cost savings in the long run by extending the lifespan of expensive infrastructure and minimizing unplanned downtime. Consider condition-based maintenance using smart sensors to optimize upkeep frequency and avoid unnecessary work.

Review Maintenance Intervals and Procedures

Existing maintenance routines may include practices that provide little safety or reliability benefit. For example, annual testing on new, robust equipment with self-monitoring capabilities may be overkill. You can likely extend intervals without added risk.

Evaluate whether procedures follow manufacturer recommendations and industry best practices. Eliminate overly cautious steps that inflate costs without a proportional safety gain. Your team’s experience provides valuable insight here too.

Invest in Staff Training and Safety Culture

A strong safety culture minimizes electrical hazards. Provide ongoing arc flash and other safety training to workers. Encourage them to speak up about potential risks and always use appropriate PPE and protocols.

Reward safe behavior and track key metrics like near miss reports. By proactively addressing safety, you reduce the chances of an incident that could result in injury, damage, and costly downtime.

Carefully Examine Contractor Bids

Bringing in third-party contractors can provide maintenance cost savings, but also carries risks if not managed properly. Require bidders to outline their safety qualifications, procedures, and past violation history in detail.

Prioritize firms who will keep your staff safe over going with the lowest bidder. Also consider having your trusted in-house team perform higher-risk tasks, even if contractors perform related work.

Consider a Risk-Based Maintenance Approach

The most effective maintenance strategies focus resources on assets where failure poses the greatest human and financial consequences. This risk-based approach assesses factors like equipment age, operating environment, redundancy, and potential failure impacts.

Workflows are then designed around preventing high-risk failures and mitigating their effects. More comprehensive analysis and modeling can optimize this, but a risk-aware mindset will steer your program even without advanced analytics.


With thoughtful planning, you can containment costs without compromising safety. Preventive maintenance, training, prudent contractor use, and risk-based prioritization help maximize limited budgets. Most importantly, engage your maintenance team and create an organization-wide culture where safety is the top priority. Protecting your staff and the public should always come first when operating high-voltage equipment.