Safety is one of the top concerns for utility companies, as the consequences of an unanticipated structural failure on a transmission line can be severe. That’s why it’s important to partner with knowledgeable and experienced professionals for infrastructure inspections, repairs, and replacements. When public safety is threatened, you’ll need a response team that will go above and beyond to prevent future accidents and ensure your assets are sound.
That’s what we did when we received an emergency call from a Utility client company this past January. A 180-foot steel pole experienced a catastrophic failure of a fracture critical weld causing the entire pole to collapse. The failure knocked out both circuits of the double circuit extra high voltage transmission line. The Client needed us to help determine the root cause of the failure, and immediately deploy a team to begin temporary weld repairs on the adjacent damaged structures as well as to begin inspecting other poles in the line for similar structural defects. Exo ultimately deployed teams to repair the other poles discovered with similar weld defects.
But, our work didn’t stop once the immediate, emergency need resulting from the failure was over. Additional weld defects were also suspected on other components welds that would require a more organized line outage and deployment to safely stabilize those components.
Over the course of the roughly 18-day line outage, Exo:
- Conducted comprehensive aerial NDT inspections of structural components on 29 selected poles on the line. 98% of the components inspected were found to have weld related defects/weld cracks that were considered serious.
- Exo efficiently completed temporary aerial repairs on the components.
Since the work was spread out over 75 miles of line, the response was not easy or straightforward. To properly address the widespread issues, our teams worked 14-hour+ days during the limited window of the outage. The teams adapted on the fly to a number of changes and challenges presented to repairing these welds in the air while the structure was under full line tension. We adjusted our workplan, time commitment, and quality assurance to get as much done as possible in the limited window of time afforded by the outage. By providing services beyond our original scope of work, we provided as much assurance as possible that the client’s transmission structure assets on this line would not continue to be any immediate threat to public safety.
There’s a lot to think about when searching for an inspection and structure remediation partner, beyond standard service offerings and capabilities. You need a team that doesn’t simply check boxes off on a checklist, but evaluates your infrastructure critically and holistically.
Below are some inspector qualities to consider:
- A “greater good” focus: When it comes to inspecting and repairing infrastructure, you need a partner that recognizes its work could affect public safety. The company needs to take its safety role seriously and be equipped to handle extensive quality assurance and NDT inspection.
- Quick response: In times of emergency, you can’t afford needless delay. It’s important that the inspection professionals you partner with can deploy experienced and knowledgeable teams quickly and that they are able to react and adjust to changing situations quickly.
- Long-term planning: Rather than only providing an immediate fix to presented problems, an inspection/repair company should offer strategic recommendations that address long-term needs. This will change the company’s role from vendor to partner.
- Willingness to go outside the scope of work: Many times, the work you require will go beyond a scope outlined at the onset of an inspection/remediation project. And that’s okay. Find an inspection partner that is flexible, fair, and understanding of the additional steps that may need to be undertaken to properly complete the task at hand.
Poles and Towers are one of your most costly assets, and it’s important to take care of them, so they will continue to safely and reliably do what they are supposed to do. One way to do this is by finding a partner that will not only respond quickly to emergencies that may happen, but provide proactive expert inspections/assessments that will help you put together a plan to keep these assets safe and reliable well into the future.