DIS-TRAN Steel Blog

7 Obvious Reasons to Use Wood Distribution and Transmission Structures

Posted by Brooke Barone on Aug 27, 2014 11:17:47 AM

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 4:01:00 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 9:32:00 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: vendors, utilities, USA Today, hurricane season, storm preparation, crossarms, electrcial service

Wood Structures: Still in the Game or Ancient History?

Posted by Brooke Barone on Jan 18, 2013 2:04:00 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, transmission, utilities, wood crossarm, wood distribution crossarms, wood transmission structures, wishbone structures, H-Frame structures, wood crossarms, wood structures

DIS-TRAN's Top Utility Posts of 2012

Posted by Brooke Barone on Jan 4, 2013 9:50:00 AM

As the new calendar year begins, it’s a good time to look back at all the accomplishments, as well as all the areas of improvement, to ensure that the next 365 days are just as good, if not better, than the previous.

One accomplishment from 2012 would have to be the continuous success of the DIS-TRAN Blog.

For me, the best part about writing each blog is that, as I’m sharing valuable information with others, I’m also learning too. And I couldn’t have done it without the participation and help from all of the employees here who have taught me so much.

So with that said, here’s a recap of some of the 2012 blog articles that seemed to make the biggest impact among our readers.

Top Posts by Page Views:

1. 10 Things You Ought to Know about TimberSIL Distribution Crossarms- Coming in at number one for 2012, this article generated the most interest and moved the conversation about this new “green” product.

2. The Secret to Building Morale by Maintaining Your Plant- This post shows a few simple steps that could change the entire perception of your fabricating facility!.

3. A Cheat Sheet for Electrical Substations- An inside look at how electricity is generated from substations into your home, and the main structures found inside a substation and their functions.

Top Human Interest Posts:

1. Road to Recovery After Hurricane Sandy- Super Storm Sandy left thousands of homes flooded and millions in the dark. Although DIS-TRAN wasn’t physically there, we worked around the clock to assist utilities to get power restored as quickly as possible. Our hearts go out to everyone who encountered Sandy’s devastation.

2. DIS-TRAN Goes Pink- This was an awesome experience and I’m really glad I got to do it with some great people!

3. DIS-TRAN’s Quick Response for Storm Restoration- Real time efforts made by DIS-TRAN and the dedicated employees who make this happen.

Top Informational Posts:

1. Design Practice for Flange Plates versus Slip Joint Connections- Great advice with a little help from our engineering department.

2. How to Use Lean Manufacturing to Increase Production- Lean Manufacturing might be an easy concept to understand, but implementing it takes hard work, persistence and teamwork.

3. Back to Basics in Transmission Structures- For anyone just starting off in this industry, substations and transmissions can get confusing. This article walks through transmission structures and their different configurations at an easy-to-learn pace.

Since September, just within a matter of a few months, our blog has taken off and I’d like to thank all of our subscribers and followers for reading and sharing our posts. If there’s anything you’d like us to write about, share or answer, please leave a comment below and we will do our best to help!

Happy New Year!

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Tags: storm restoration, distribution corssarms, transmission structures, flange plates, transmission, substations, DIS-TRAN, utilities, TimberSIL, utility, electrical substations, joint connections

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