"Utility poles are like snowflakes: no two are alike." – Barry Wise, Alden Project Manager
Go with us for a moment: the infrastructure asset management industry and joint use assets in particular, are rare things. Joint use, with its requests to attach and detach, pole loading requirements and owner & attacher contracts with a strong focus on equipment, processes and the collaborations which underpin the distribution of power and data from here to there, is special. It is an industry and workforce uniquely engaged with mission critical assets and responsibility, but not directly with the actual product delivered.
Further, to reference the quote above, not only is every utility pole different, but every situation in every municipality, electric co-op, investor-owned utility and telecom is as unique as a fingerprint. That is why Alden deals in versatile infrastructure asset management solutions that are designed specifically for the industry to meet your business—and joint use department’s—very specific needs for organization, communication, management and process. It is also why we take it upon ourselves to look at the industry as an observer and try to predict what will be coming next.
From our observations, here is what we think the future of joint use management will bring.
Things are about to get smaller and smarter.
From mobile technologies that make data management more efficient, accurate and untethered from the desktop, to widespread use of automation which will link multiple systems, technology will continue to revolutionize the job of the typical joint use department. The days of the paper contract, the static Excel sheet, and the five different pools of data languishing in five unconnected software systems cannot be sustained. Feel free to cheer.
Joint use will shift engineering’s burden.
As development and construction begin to boom again in the U.S., large groups of utility poles need to be erected and attachers of all types will scramble for space on those facilities. This addes up to a lot of work to be done. From managing a higher volume of new attachment requests to loading analysis to simply making sure poles can support all this new equipment and stay up to code, there will be many engineering-type tasks mounting up. In the wake of this, joint use departments will begin to take on these duties more readily themselves, freeing up engineers to do their primary job: provide power or data to the end user.
The spotlight will turn to joint use as a benchmark of efficiency.
As all these changes happen, joint use will adapt and can become an example of organization, communication and efficiency within power utilities and telecommunications.
From adoption of ever-more-powerful online joint use management systems to connected field assessment tools to a wholesale shift in perspective from reactive to proactive, we believe 2016 is the year to adapt or be left behind.
What's your largest hurdle this year? Share in the comments.