Most threats to the safety of our rights-of-way come from natural causes such as plants, trees and animals. Seasonal storms also disrupt power and communication lines. Contributing editor Paul Hull's feature article, "Keeping the Way Open," presents why maintaining our rights-of-way helps ensure safe service for everyone. Animals innocently create a threat to safe communications and power operation, but there are devices that repel them. Plants, on the other hand, grow and spread-some along the ground and others up power poles. Hull discusses a variety of products to treat and control plants-chemicals, physical removal of stems and branches, cutting down or trimming large trees, and turning branches and trees into mulch. Whatever method is used, it is important that only those who are qualified perform the job. And, as Hull points out, the worst thing a utility can do is put off right-of-way maintenance until next year, which will only make the problem worse and more costly to address.
Another article, "In a Tight Spot," presents how one Michigan tree trimmer uses compact equipment to clear confined spaces along rights-of-way. While open areas allow the use of large-scale mechanical trimmers, there are distribution lines in metropolitan areas and other tight spaces that require the use of smaller equipment. One company, Kappen Tree Service, services 4,000 to 5,000 miles per year for multiple electric utilities along transmission, subtransmission and distribution lines. The company's discovery of the Kwik-Trim compact tree trimmer, made by Loftness, makes it easier and faster to work in metropolitan areas. The compact tree trimmers use a mini-excavator chassis, but, rather than using a hydraulic arm and bucket, they are equipped with a saw blade on a nonconductive, hydraulically telescoping boom. In the course of a season, hours, days and even weeks are saved.
Ryan Driscoll's feature article, "Benefits Global Positioning System Tracking Offers Fleet Managers, Field Technicians," outlines how global positioning system (GPS) fleet tracking technology helps management become more efficient and control fleet-related expenses. The GPS Insight Fleet Tracking Solution helps utility fleets significantly reduce fuel costs and consistently see a quick and substantial return on investment (ROI). Field technicians also benefit from GPS tracking with remote panic switch options in case of emergencies, avoiding getting lost in the field and helping recover stolen vehicles. GPS technology can also vindicate employees from false accusations.
In "Fleet Tracking for Efficiency, Safety, Profitability" by Ashley Jones, the need for GPS fleet tracking to remain competitive is addressed. Regardless of the number of vehicles you have, this technology helps maximize revenue and increase operational efficiencies. Outlined in the article is how NexTraq GPS fleet tracking benefits drivers, fleets and asset safety. Drivers' chances of getting lost are eliminated, and, should an emergency occur, drivers have a direct communication line for help. In addition, one electrical company using fleet tracking saw a 35 percent increase in fleet productivity after implementing a GPS fleet tracking platform. If your fleet isn't as productive as it could be, products are available to optimize your fleet operations.