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The Importance of Pole Loading

Performing pole loading analysis used to be much rarer than it is today. So what changed between now and then? The main difference is that utility distribution poles had to contend with fewer residents, it used to be only power distribution for your home, and telecommunication wires to provide telephone services. Cable television complicated matters slightly as they became more common, but it was still relatively uncommon to need to perform a pole analysis beyond the early science of setting a new pole line.

However, in recent years this has drastically changed. The number of items attached to a pole has increased significantly, from numerous fiber optic cables to smart grid power hardware. With so many cables, cabinets, risers and equipment attached to the pole, utility poles have become a lot more complicated, leading to many more cases where standard building specifications struggle to account for everything.

The most straightforward reason pole loading analysis is becoming increasingly important is the increasing number of situations that legally require it. Both the National Electric Safety Code (NESC) and California’s General Order 95 (G.O. 95) require analysis of a number of safety factors for any utility pole that will have both distribution and communication lines attached. While not a national standard, G.O. 95 is already a legal requirement in California, and the NESC has been adopted either fully or in part in the majority of the continental United States. Additionally, depending on the local weather conditions, some utility poles that do not have communication wires attached also require pole loading analysis for wind or ice load.

As mentioned in our last article, increased safety is the main reason these requirements have been increasingly adopted, however, having performed pole loading analysis has a number of additional benefits.

Beyond the increase in safety, performing pole loading can help ensure reliability and minimize outages. By performing pole loading analysis rather than relying on simply building to specification, it becomes possible to identify all at-risk edge cases that are most likely to fail before planned replacement. This allows relatively simple reinforcement to be performed ahead of time. Instead of scrambling to respond to an outage utility companies can bring more predictability and focus to their continued maintenance efforts.

In our history of working as OSP engineers offering pole loading services, we’ve realized the importance of keeping the costs down. The Katapult method is designed to maximize benefits and minimize the costs. By using photogrammetry techniques, we’ve created an easily scalable collection process that doesn’t require engineers to perform the data collection themselves, but provides accurate data. Additionally, our software is capable of full exports to the leading pole loading analysis software.

To find out how Katapult Pro can make pole loading easier within your workflow, check out, or email Isaac at!

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