Editor's Letter

Welcome to the November/December 2018 edition of Utility Products. Topics this month include: online equipment monitoring; protecting poles from wildfire damage; diagnosing causes of premature transformer failure; and much more.

Welcome to the November/December 2018 edition of Utility Products. Electric utilities are under enormous pressure — from customers, regulators and political leaders — to produce power more efficiently and do it more reliably and safely. As Alexander Ebbert notes in the feature article on page 4, online equipment monitoring enables smart utilities to make smart choices to extend the life of infrastructure investment by analyzing and detecting deteriorations before failures can occur.

As temperatures rise and drought conditions worsen across the United States, wildfire incidents are on the rise. To reduce risk of fire damage to poles — and the subsequent outages caused by pole failures — electric utilities and other pole owners employ various right-of-way strategies, such as trimming and clearing vegetation, and “grubbing” poles. In the feature article on page 8, David Skinner discusses three other pole-protecting techniques: coatings, wraps and barriers. He describes each and offers useful tips for evaluating a fire-retardant strategy that will work for your application.

When it comes to big ticket items, power transformers near the top of the list. So, when they fail prematurely, it is a painful experience with damages that can far exceed the cost of a replacement unit. Utilities can benefit from the efforts of failure-analysis experts who investigate transformers that die an early death. One such transformer CSI, Jeff Jones, shares his expertise with author David Rizzo on page 12. He discusses the most likely causes of premature transformer failure. Spoiler alert: they are avoidable.

It’s important for technicians to have the tools they need on their trucks, but a cluttered service truck is a heavy service truck. Increased truck weight has all sorts of consequences, including more wear and tear on the engine and chassis, potential fines, and safety risks. On page 16, Matt Sherrick highlights how an all-in-one power system can take the place of several pieces of heavy equipment, like an air compressor and generator, to lighten the load and free up payload space.

Today, more light- and medium-duty commercial vehicles in utility vehicle fleets are transitioning to alternative fuels to reduce emissions and save money. One of those fuels is propane autogas. As Michael Taylor tells us on page 20, propane autogas can cost half as much as gasoline and diesel, and the clean-burning engine systems don’t require the fluids and filters that traditional engine systems do.

BrandFX has announced its new vehicle service bodies, which feature all-composite construction. The result is a high-­performance service body that is up to 60 percent lighter than a similar metal body. It’s not only lightweight but also strong: testing showed it can withstand a head-on crash at speeds in excess of 30 mph. Find out more about UltimateFX service bodies on page 22.

Apps have the potential to make the lives of field technicians much easier, but only if that app is fast, reliable, and functional — even in areas of limited or no service. On page 23, Mary Brittain-White outlines four ways to create true offline capability for mobile apps and explains why these tools, like any other a field tech uses, are worth the investment.

In recent years, industrial operations have become increasingly connected and today, distributed and transient devices are working together across the field — generating new efficiencies but also creating new risks and security vulnerabilities. As Duncan Greatwood suggests on page 24, connectivity in and of itself is the first of many security obstacles. He outlines the concerns as well as innovative solutions for ensuring the security of smart networks.

Don’t forget to check out the latest and greatest utility products to hit the market in our New Products Showcase, starting on page 26.

We hope you enjoy this edition of Utility Products. Thanks for reading!

– Angela Godwin, Chief Editor

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