Editor’s Letter - April 2019

Apr 1st, 2019
Angela D. Godwin

Welcome to the April 2019 edition of Utility Products. Did you know that a cubic yard of soil weighs as much as a car? With that kind of weight, a trench collapse can kill in minutes. In the feature article on page 4, Chad Lindsley explores the critical task of choosing a protective system for trench and excavation work, and offers five questions to ask yourself when making a decision.

As Paul Lauria notes on page 6, there is a shift underway in the world of transportation and fleet management and a number of challenges are converging into a “perfect storm” for fleet managers. He explains each and offers insights for weathering the road ahead.

Bay Shore has introduced two new drill rigs to the market, one features 50,000-ft-lb rotary torque and can be mounted on an excavator as small as 16 tons; the other has rotary torque of 26,000 ft-lbs and can be mounted to zero-swing excavators as small as 13 tons. On page 8, Debby Keegan outlines the rest of the rigs’ many impressive features.

There are lots of high-tech security options designed to protect U.S. power plants from physical attack, but a new research study suggests that good, old-fashioned fences and concrete might be more effective. Read more in Michael Pearson’s article on page 10.

Iso-phase bus (IPB) systems are the critical first link in the power transmission chain. Despite the exit of the major original manufacturers (GE and Westinghouse) from the IPB market, some of the original designs live on. As a successor of the Westinghouse heritage, Crown Electric has continued to improve on the original design with refinements to IPB insulators, insulator mountings and the continuous housing assembly. Turn to page 12 to learn more.

When designing an extensive grounding system, locating the area of lowest soil resistivity is necessary to achieve the most economical grounding installation. On page 14, John Olobri walks us through the process for calculating soil resistivity using the Wenner method.

Working around electricity is a dangerous business. PPE is important, but there are situations where it simply isn’t enough. As Greg Davis suggests in the article on page 17, oftentimes distance is safety — and there are remote actuation and racking systems that can deliver added protection and peace of mind to technicians who perform testing, actuation, and extraction/racking operations.

While navigating fall protection requirements can often seem complicated, utility leaders can help prevent serious accidents and OSHA fines by understanding and communicating a few basic points to employees: when to use fall protection; understanding fixed ladders and fall protection; and additional ladder safety accessories. Chad Lingerfelt discusses each in his article on page 20.

With an ever-increasing percentage of medium-voltage vacuum circuit breakers in service nearing or already exceeding their design life, asset owners are facing difficult decisions about how to extend the usable life of their equipment. As Finley Ledbetter and David Walterscheid explain on page 23, simply using a breaker’s age or number of operations to quantify mechanism health and schedule maintenance isn’t enough.

Power breaks down into active, reactive, and apparent components. How we measure them and address them in an electrical system has notable bearing on cost savings, efficiency, and safety. Jeff Jowett explains on page 26 and outlines how a power quality analysis is an indispensable asset for maximizing the efficiency of an electrical system, cutting costs, reducing failures, and eliminating potential hazards.

New sources of energy generation, consumer demand for faster and more affordable services, cybersecurity, and big data — these factors are all transforming the electric utility industry. As such, gathering data to harvest insights and deliver more accurate forecasts could potentially optimize the way utilities operate. But data quality and governance must be considered. Read more in Sunil Kotagiri’s article on page 29.

And, last but not least, be sure to take a peek at the new products and tools we’ve compiled for you this month on page 32.

-Angela Godwin

More in Test & Measurement