Editor’s Letter - May 2019

Welcome to the May 2019 edition of Utility Products. This is a very special issue; it’s the one where we get to introduce you to a new voice: The Salty Lineman. In his recurring column, he will share his perspectives on the trade that has shaped him for over a decade. In his debut column on page 10, The Salty Lineman reflects on how he got started and how those first days of linework were hard. Really hard. “I lived in a constant state of soreness those first weeks, and I walked around like a whooped pup,” he recalls. But over the years, with the help of the men who taught him the trade, he found his calling. “I set out looking for insurance and enough income to raise a family,” he says, “but linework has given me so much more.”

For excavation specialist Rock Structures, digging out basements and installing utilities once required a crew member in the hole to check elevations and reach grade. Today, with the use of a grade control system that enables the excavator to work semi-automatically, the operator can create smooth, flat or sloped surfaces according to the digital design. Read the full story by Jon McKendry on page 4.

Unforeseen power outages and interrupted services affect millions of individuals every year in the utilities industry. To reduce restoration time and respond to customer demands, utility companies are hungry for technology to anticipate outages and improve customer service. In Jo Satili’s article on page 7, learn how rugged mobile technology is helping to support the evolving needs of the utilities industry while keeping the power on today, tomorrow and in the future.

The economy is booming, and that’s a good thing. But that, and an outdated approach to truck attainment and replacement, is contributing to a backlog of orders for Class-8 heavy-duty trucks. Demand is outpacing supply and that is causing delays for fleets that need to upgrade or expand. On page 13, author Brian Holland suggests a different approach: using data and analytics to identify the point at which it costs more to operate a truck than it does to replace it. In many cases, it supports a shorter-term lease model that can reduce the asset management life cycle and help companies plan better.

Despite having a large number of heavy-equipment operators it its fleet, the city of Toledo did not have a formal training program; heavy-equipment operation wasn’t considered a skilled trade. That changed when the commissioner spearheaded the effort to implement one, using a simulator to train new — and seasoned — operators. David Clark explains on page 15.

Anchoring crews spend their days installing 4-foot anchors to secure the cables supporting utility poles. Compared to lineworkers, these crew members are seemingly low-risk but one safety-conscious telecom company noticed they had a tendency of incurring injuries at an alarming rate. The culprit? An anchor-driving tool that was hard to handle. Check out the solution in Jenessa McAllister’s article on page 18.

There are many options for electrical equipment and supplies, and making the right choices can be difficult when balancing requirements for safety, electrical performance and cost. That’s why it’s critical to ensure that your connector equipment has been rigorously conformance-tested to comply with industry standards. Not only that, explains John Lefavour on page 22, field installers need to perform the installation of the connector in the same manner in which the product was conformance tested.

Slips, trips, and falls are the most frequent causes of workplace accidents, according to OSHA. You depend on your safety footwear to provide stability as well as to protect you from the impacts of heavy objects. But how do you know you’re selecting the right kind of footwear for your workplace? Karoly Ban Matei offers a few tips on page 24.

And finally, for a whole bunch of new products and tools, check out our compilation of the latest and greatest starting on page 26.

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