NTT's telecom services are supported by infrastructure facilities' whose reliability and stability must be ensured even in aggressive outdoor environments (Figure 1). Additionally, due to the increased amount of aging equipment and decreases in maintenance personnel, there are demands for even greater levels of efficiency in telecom equipment maintenance. We are investigating materials evaluation technologies. For safe and secure telecom infrastructure, these technologies seek to clarify material deterioration mechanisms and estimate and predict risks due to the deterioration.
To improve the reliability and stability of infrastructure facilities, it is important to use suitable approaches to evaluate and analyze infrastructural materials exposed to a wide range of environments in order to clarify of deterioration mechanisms and select of the best materials. In order to achieve this, for instance, we are researching evaluation technologies for high-strength steel in prestressed concrete poles and anti-corrosion coatings on steel towers (Figure 2). These methods provide the features that make it possible to evaluate the quality and performance of materials for a shorter period of time in environments that simulate real outdoor exposure.
Many telecommunications facilities are aging, and the number of maintenance workers is decreasing. Consequently, the efficiency of maintenance work must be increased. Risk-based maintenance (RBM) enables us to determine an efficient maintenance plan by giving priority to inspection and maintenance of facilities based on the assessed risk (Figure 3). To make it possible to apply RBM to telecommunications facilities, we are studying a method for assessing facilities' risks. Risk values for facilities, for example, outside installation facilities such as steel poles, can be calculated from information including accumulated inspection records, population density data, and traffic data.
Researching materials evaluation technologies for infrastructure facilities will raise their reliability, extend their service life, and reduce environmental load and maintenance costs. Furthermore, using knowledge gained from infrastructure materials research, we are able to realize an efficient maintenance control environment by prioritizing maintenance based on the estimation and prediction of the risks accompanying facilities' deterioration and malfunction.