- Quay Hoffman
MRE For Pole Attachments
Updated: Mar 20
Make ready design and engineering is among the many challenges facing applicants and utilities today. Not only does it require a costly time commitment, but the calls made are often more subjective than we would like to admit. These subjective calls can have even more costly ramifications for the project as a whole, as the applicant can rack up millions of dollars in make ready costs on a large project and add months to a completion date. These high stakes mean that applicants and utilities are frequently in dispute over the calls, trying to reduce pole attachment make ready services costs. To further complicate matters, other third parties such as telephone companies (Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers, or ILECs) often have a vested interest in obstructing the process as much as they can, initiating their own disputes over to the make ready engineering and delaying completion of their utility pole make ready service. Fortunately, there is hope for utilities and attachers hoping to streamline the process.
Applicants needing to perform make ready engineering are often faced with the problem of personnel management. A lot of companies will typically only have a few individuals capable of performing make ready design and engineering, and are forced to send these more highly trained (and more costly) individuals into the field to perform time consuming survey work in order to do make ready design or risk doing make ready design with the incomplete information provided from a pole profile survey form. Using Katapult Pro, applicants are able to keep costs low by sending a less expensive crew into the field, but still give the engineer or make ready designer the full information they need to perform accurate make ready design and engineering. In addition to this, the designer is able to document the rationale used to create the design, and preserve the status of the poles in the application as a common starting point for the utility.
A big problem in the osp make ready process is getting both parties to agree on exactly what the current status of a utility pole is. Utility companies frequently depend on the attacher to provide a survey of the pole, but then may distrust the results of the survey, as the attacher could bend the truth -- giving themselves an extra inch on this pole or an extra 3 inches on the next pole -- to reduce their make ready costs. This distrust makes it difficult for each party to trust the other, even when both sides are behaving honestly, as is usually the case. Providing photos of each pole in an application goes a long way towards closing the communication and trust gap between the two. An annotated, calibrated photo takes this a step further by providing assurances of the status quo, and giving a common starting ground to engage in discussion, as well as a historical record of the pole in the event that legal action is ever pursued pertaining to the osp make ready process. Katapult Pro provides an easy way to create these photos and organize them, by keeping them grouped with their respective poles and midspans on a map and allowing for sharing of an interactive deliverable. Katapult Pro is already being used by utilities and applicants for “virtual rideouts”, allowing multiple parties to resolve their disputes remotely, by having a shared data set that both parties trust. In some markets, utilities are experimenting with the notion of one-touch make ready engineering, allowing a single party to perform all make ready construction in one pass. This concept has the ability to drastically reduce construction time and costs for a new attacher and eliminates the possibility of ILEC obstruction, but it opens up the utilities and ILECs to abuse from the new attacher. In order for all parties to trust each other, once again we need a trustworthy dataset to make our decisions. Having an outside party with no vested interest in the process is an option, but interpreting their survey results of yet another party can still be difficult depending on the format of their deliverable. Using Katapult Pro once again allows all parties to come together and agree on the field conditions, and focus on the important issues of determining what make ready engineering and construction needs to occur.In any scenario, the least costly outcome for all parties involved is the one that resolves quickly, and the key to quick resolution is effective communication. Communicating the nuances required for make ready design and engineering can be impossible using traditional tools. It is in the best interest of utilities and applicants alike to make use of photos and new technologies to cut costs and speed up the osp make ready process. Quay Hoffman is an OSP Designer with over 6 years of experience working with applicants and utilities within the industry working towards a better make ready solution for all parties. For more information about our product that assists in making better make ready decisions visit Katapult Pro.