Joint Use Engineering Mistakes Caused by Inaccurate Data

Posted by Ashley Little on February 3, 2014

engineering_mistakes_inaccurate_dataIn any field, up-to-date, accurate data is essential for making decisions and accomplishing goals. If you begin a project based on false assumptions, the results can be disastrous. Nowhere is this more apparent than in utility pole management. Here are some engineering mistakes caused by inaccurate data of joint use poles that can lead to embarrassing (and costly) situations.

Phantom Data

All of your utility poles need to be catalogued and stored in a main database for easy access. When a pole goes up, GPS coordinates are logged and all important asset information and updates about the utility pole are added to the entry over time. What attachments are on the pole and to whom those attachments belong, etc.

For example: say you have an opportunity to rent space on a particular set of poles. You negotiated the contract with the prospective attacher, and they are all set to install their equipment. Then the day arrives, and suddenly you receive word: where are the poles? The installers are at the specified location, but there are no poles to be found. What happened?

After a lot of digging through disorganized piles of paperwork, you find the answer. The road was widened a couple of years ago, the poles were removed, and instead of erecting new ones, the lines were buried. For whatever reason, your asset records were not updated, and your database still shows utility poles at that location. As a result, you have a job that was designed based on poles that no longer exist and an unhappy attacher.

Out of Date Asset Records

It would clearly be a real problem for your company to offer attachment space on poles that no longer exist. Here is another example. Again, your company is contacted by a cable company who wants to rent space on a particular set of poles that you own. Your asset record database shows that they are at a certain location, but, having learned your lesson from the phantom poles, you send a tech to scout out the poles. As they should be, the poles are exactly in the spots your records show, and you negotiate a new contract.

The day comes to install the new equipment. A team goes out and begins the work. Everything is going as planned until you get a call from the power company across town.

"What are you doing to our poles? One of our engineers just drove by and saw equipment being installed and told us that you approved it."

It turns out, yes, you have made a deal to rent pole space on what turns out to someone else’s poles. How did this happen? Perhaps they were erected after a storm by the other company and the records were not updated. Whatever the root problem is, it is clear why accurate data is key for business.

Mistakes like these are why keeping accurate data for your utility poles is so important. With careful planning and up-to-date asset data records, you can avoid situations that could cost not only revenue, but reputation.

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