DIS-TRAN Steel Blog

COMPOSITES: A GAME CHANGING INNOVATION FOR UTILITIES

Posted by Melissa Hines on Jun 27, 2016 10:07:44 AM

 

For decades, the utility industry has relied on wood and steel to form the infrastructure that delivers services to customers. While wood and steel have been good choices for many companies, there are new materials emerging that could redefine the industry. Composite materials represent viable alternatives that could shape the future of utility distribution and transmission.

Today, a scientifically engineered material entering the market has the potential to upend wood and steel’s long held dominance within the utility space. Composites represent a new generation of materials and are being hailed as a game-changer for the industry. DIS-TRAN Overhead Solutions leads the way in manufacturing composite products that are quickly being adopted for their considerable advantages. Our patent 9546498Ultravex™ composite crossarms showcase why composites are disrupting the utility ecosystem with each deployment.OhC0Oqiest1453762472.jpg

Composites are non-conductive, light, durable and readily installed for recovery efforts from extreme weather events. Their small footprint allows them to be easily transported, making them the most attractive option for use in remote locations with difficult access. Their service life exceeds that of wood counterparts as they are resistant to rot, corrosion, pests and fire, all while offering superior UV protection. The high dielectric strength of composites renders them the safest choice for live-line installations and maintenance, and reduces potential touch and step hazards. Furthermore, composites are proven to be environmentally sustainable since they are made of non-leaching material and contain no soil remediation.

Though the material may seem futuristic, composite transmission poles were first installed in Maui, Hawaii in 1962. These fiber-reinforced structures lasted nearly 45 years, and replaced wood and steel poles that had suffered degradation and corrosion due to the island’s warm, moist and salty air. More recently, the destruction of 60,000 wooden poles by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 revealed the critical problems of aging and overload within the utility infrastructure. As a result, many in the industry are turning to composites as they provide improved reliability during major storm events, leading to reduced power outages and faster service restoration.

Reduced maintenance and associated costs stands out as one of composites’ most attractive features. The surface of composite poles is too slick for woodpeckers and squirrels to grab hold of. This feature decreases expensive, critter-induced outages to virtually zero. Unlike wood, composites do not lose strength as they age, further reducing maintenance. And since they are hollow, copper wiring can be stored inside of poles – and out of sight of potential thieves. 

Several states near the Gulf Coast are in the process of incorporating composites into their utility infrastructure as a way of improving hurricane preparedness and upgrading current services. The Ultravex™ composite crossarm from DIS-TRAN Overhead Solutions makes an excellent addition to a utility’s composite expansion. Our full gallery of premium distribution and transmission products can meet any need. Visit us at www.distranoverheadsolutions.com and let us know how we can assist you. Dowload our UltravexTM loading tables and find out which crossarm will work best for your next project.

 

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD UltravexTM Deadend & Tangent Loading Tables

 

 

Tags: utility industry, utilities, crossarms, fiberglass, composites, composite crossarm

7 Obvious Reasons to Use Wood Distribution and Transmission Structures

Posted by Brooke Barone on Aug 27, 2014 12:17:47 PM

While many say “Out with the old and in with the new,” this might be true for hairstyles, tube socks or shag carpet, but with over 130 million wood utility structures across America that are still in service today, this is simply not the case.

Wood utility structures have an undeniable reputation for being reliable, versatile and cost-effective.Wood distribution and transmission structures remain highly preferred in the utility industry due to their ease of construction, climbability and design flexibility.

Wood Transmission Structures

Reliability Wood transmission structures have higher Basic Insulating Levels (BIL), which can help reduce lightning flashovers, cutting down on power outages.

Cost-effective With economical initial costs and low overall life cycle costs, wood can directly reduce the impact of operating expenses.

Safety Since wood transmission structures have been around for decades, utilities and lineman are very familiar with proper use and handling of the products.

Why use wood transmission structures?

  1. Lower cost
  2. Long and proven service life
  3. Adaptable to many different applications
  4. Easy to handle and store the structures
  5. Natural flexibility providing  high performance under load
  6. Can be easily modified in the field
  7. Can be supplied quickly in times of crisis

trans pic green

The general standards that wood transmission structures must meet include ANSI, RUS, NESC, WCLIB and AWPA. And just like steel, concrete and other materials, there are countless configurations for wood transmission structures. 

Just to name a few, there are:

  • Single Pole with Traditional Crossarms
  • Wishbone Structures
  • Two Pole H-Frame Structures
  • Multi-Pole H-Frame Structures

trans 2 green

When considering which manufacturer to choose, you might want to consider their history in the supply of products in the utility market, the location and number of facilities, in-house design capacity, access to raw materials and available inventory for standard items, especially when time is critical. All of these factors could make or break your recovery response when natural disasters strike.

Dive Deeper Into the Transmission World

 

Tags: utility industry, wood distribution crossarms, wood crossarms, utilities, transmission, wood crossarm, wood transmission structures, wishbone structures, H-Frame structures, wood structures

What Wikipedia Can’t Tell You About Storm Response

Posted by Brooke Barone on Jun 19, 2013 5:01:00 PM

Within the past two decades, studies have shown that utilities have significantly improved their storm response performance while cutting the duration of storm outages and increasing the rate in which power is being restored.  

As with most things, storm response has improved through experience.  For example, past storms can be very useful in improving a utility’s logistics.  In the case of crossarms, truckloads are often divided among different service locations.  It is important to have a good idea of the usage at each location to properly divide truckloads.  With properly divided trucks, all crews can be kept supplied with the proper amount of crossarms, rather than having a portion of the repair crews supplied with more than they need, while other crews wait on a truck that may not arrive until the next day.

While utilities are constantly improving techniques and processes for quick recovery, many are quick to criticize the restoration efforts.  Customers should remember that every situation is different, and it’s difficult to follow one set of rules. It is, however, crucial for utilities to have constant communication with their customers and communities, because let’s face it- we are addicted to electricity…and social media.

Customers without electricity should also remember that utility companies have a set priority to restoring electricity:

1. Emergency services:  hospitals, fire stations, police, and first aid

2. Circuits serving the largest area of customers

3. Individual homes and businesses

According to a study conducted in 2003 by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), four things stand out about the progress of utility storm response:

  • The rate at which utilities are able to restore power to customers following a major storm event has improved.
  • The average number of days required to complete restoration efforts has decreased.
  • While the number of restoration workers deployed has decreased, the number of customers restored per worker has increased.
  • Recent storms do not appear to have been any more or less severe, based on equipment damage. 
In a more recent study by EEI, completed in January 2013, they suggested two main solutions to combating and mitigating storm damage and outages: system hardening and resiliency measures.

System Hardening, as defined by EEI, is physical changes to the utility’s infrastructure to make it less susceptible to storm damage, with the hardening improving durability and stability of transmission and distribution infrastructure, allowing the system to withstand the impacts of severe weather events with minimal damage. 

Resiliency, defined by EEI, refers to the ability of utilities to recover quickly from damage to any of its facilities’ components or to any of the external systems, not necessarily preventing damage, but enabling electric facilities to continue operating despite damage.

Wood Transmission Assembly

EEI Hardening Measures:

  • Undergrounding- eliminate poles and bury distribution lines underground to shield them from severe weather events.
  • Higher Design and Construction Standards- elevate substations and other vulnerable facilities that are susceptible to flooding, and hardening measures for pole designs to withstand high winds and mitigate widespread outages.
  • Smart Grid- although this technology is still being developed, it would allow the system to detect outages and remotely reroute electricity to undamaged circuits and feeders.
  • Microgrid- still in study phase, but this idea is that it functions as an isolatable distribution network, usually connected to one or more distributed generation sources that connect s and disconnects from the main grid in times of widespread outages.
  • Advanced Technology- various mapping technologies such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and Automated Mapping Facilities Management (AM/FM).

EEI Resiliency Measures:

  • Shared or Contract Labor Force- secure enough crew members in preparation for major weather events in advance.
  • Standby Equipment- such as strategic alliances or material consignment, equipped trucks, GPS devices and also secure enough fuel for service trucks.
  • Restoration Materials- adequate backup restoration supplies such as poles, wires, transformers and other components that are easily obtained through contracts with suppliers.
  • Enhanced Communication, Planning & Coordination- make sure to have pre-staging areas and staging areas set up in advance, also have a single point of contact who communicates updates and information to customers, communities and crew members.
  • Advanced Technologies- Outage Management Systems are used to detect and report reliability issues, also infrared scanning for surface and airborne damage assessment. 
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Tags: wood transmission assemblies, substations, utilities, crossarms, storm response, Eddison Electric Institute, smart grid

Quick Tips for How Utilities Can Prepare for Hurricane Season

Posted by Brooke Barone on Apr 19, 2013 10:32:00 AM

It’s almost getting to be that time of year again-when warm, moist air from the ocean’s surface rises, forming an area of lower pressure that begins swirling due to converging with equatorial winds.  On a small scale you develop a thunderstorm, on a large scale you may form hurricanes.

According to a USA Today article, weather forecasts have predicated this hurricane season to be “above-average,” with 18 tropical storms- nine of those being hurricanes. As nerve wrecking as this sounds, for utilities, it only takes that one bad storm to cause chaos.

While it’s important for residents to have a storm preparation list, it’s paramount for utilities to have a game plan in place ahead of time for all possible scenarios. 

As a thunderstorm builds into a hurricane, it goes through three stages:

1.) Tropical Depression- wind speed less than 38 miles per hour

2.) Tropical Storm- wind speeds at 39-73 miles per hour

3.) Hurricane- wind speeds greater than 74 miles per hour

Right now you could say it’s the “calm before the storm.” The pleasant spring weather is here, the sun is shining and flowers are blossoming. But this is the time when utilities should ready themselves for what potentially lies ahead. Having a Before the Storm, During the Storm and After the Storm Plan could make a significant difference in the outcome.

DIS-TRAN Wood Products

One of the struggles utilities face during storm preparation and response is securing the correct amount of materials needed without overbuying while in panic mode. By establishing relationships with key vendors who can help the situation, assures they will have plenty of material in inventory to serve them in an emergency situation, allowing the Utility to procure only items required as they determine their needs.

Utilities face even more pressure from their customers and politicians to get electrical service back on line in the quickest amount of time. By having a Critical Needs List including items such as poles, crossarms, hardware, insulators, conductor, squeeze-ons, splices and transformers, helps to ensure a smooth and timely recovery.

It’s a good idea for utilities to also implement a trigger mechanism based on the path and strength of the storm so they’ll know when to act, which can eliminate potential costly delays for recovery. Utilities can also be better prepared by standardizing their products as much as possible, and by approving alternate ahead of time so that they don’t lose valuable time once they are engaged.

Ensuring safety is the number one priority.  It’s important that all personnel remain out of harm’s way during the worst moments, and that all safety procedures are followed during the reconstruction process.

Next, utilities need to ensure that strong lines of communication are established between local emergency services and authorities, utility users and their vendors. One critical tactic that utilities should implement is to have a storm response team with members designated to handle each of the key responsibilities. The qualified person should have experience, product knowledge and have established relationships with key contacts or component vendors long before the potential event. 

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Tags: utilities, crossarms, hurricane season, vendors, USA Today, storm preparation, electrcial service

Wood Structures: Still in the Game or Ancient History?

Posted by Brooke Barone on Jan 18, 2013 3:04:00 PM

While many say “Out with the old and in with the new,” this might be true for hairstyles, tube socks or shag carpet, but with over 130 million wood utility structures across America that are still in service today, this is simply not the case.

Wood utility structures have an undeniable reputation for being reliable, versatile and cost-effective.Wood distribution and transmission structures remain highly preferred in the utility industry due to their ease of construction, climbability and design flexibility.

Wood Transmission Structures

Reliability Wood transmission structures have higher Basic Insulating Levels (BIL), which can help reduce lightning flashovers, cutting down on power outages.

Cost-effective With economical initial costs and low overall life cycle costs, wood can directly reduce the impact of operating expenses.

Safety Since wood transmission structures have been around for decades, utilities and lineman are very familiar with proper use and handling of the products.

Why use wood transmission structures?

  1. Lower cost
  2. Long and proven service life
  3. Adaptable to many different applications
  4. Easy to handle and store the structures
  5. Natural flexibility providing  high performance under load
  6. Can be easily modified in the field
  7. Can be supplied quickly in times of crisis

trans pic green

The general standards that wood transmission structures must meet include ANSI, RUS, NESC, WCLIB and AWPA. And just like steel, concrete and other materials, there are countless configurations for wood transmission structures. 

Just to name a few, there are:

  • Single Pole with Traditional Crossarms
  • Wishbone Structures
  • Two Pole H-Frame Structures
  • Multi-Pole H-Frame Structures

trans 2 green

When considering which manufacturer to choose, you might want to consider their history in the supply of products in the utility market, the location and number of facilities, in-house design capacity, access to raw materials and available inventory for standard items, especially when time is critical. All of these factors could make or break your recovery response when natural disasters strike.

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Tags: utility industry, wood distribution crossarms, wood crossarms, utilities, transmission, wood crossarm, wood transmission structures, wishbone structures, H-Frame structures, wood structures

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