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PCI: What It Is and Why It Matters

Updated: Mar 5

Good engineering begins with quality data and requires excellent design and construction, but if we stop there we’ve missed an essential step in the process. Good make ready engineering has to end with post-construction inspections, or PCI. 


PCI is the process of collecting data after make ready construction is completed to make sure new attachments were built safely and according to the agreed-upon engineering plan. 


It’s more than just a check in the administrative box– it’s absolutely key for maintaining a safe grid for millions of people. And yet across the country, typical workflows skip this step. 


Delays, discussions, debates, dollars, and disagreements constantly crop up throughout the pole attachments process in the name of safety and reliability, but checking our work doesn’t rank high enough on our list of to-dos. 


But it should. Sometimes referred to as-built documentation, PCI lets designers review as-built photos and measurements against the engineering plan and fix any issues that are found. Not only does it improve the grid, but it strengthens trust between utilities and their attachers who have a record of really good engineering. 


Plus, it improves the relationship between engineering firms and construction contractors. With PCI, engineers can more accurately predict the conditions for construction, and construction crews can provide feedback from their point of view. This kind of communication helps minimize construction headaches from complicated engineering. 


Not to mention, post-construction inspections also give pole owners an up-to-date record of all poles with communication attachments in their most recent state. 


(Unfortunately, unauthorized attachers still find a way to sidestep this plan by never requesting permission in the first place. They’re either discovered while calling make ready for a new attachment or brought into compliance as a part of regular system-wide attachment audits. More on that another day.) 


The FCC outlines PCI as a requirement when performing one-touch make ready to ensure approved one-touch contractors are performing work safely and to spec when moving existing cables for a new attacher. Because utilities perceive they have less control of the attachments process, PCI lets pole owners double-check that construction is up to snuff and won’t cause issues down the road. 


At the end of the day, it deepens trust, vetting construction to protect the grid from future failure. Trust leads to better relationships between owners and attachers and improves the industry for everyone. 


Unfortunately, collecting as-built documentation can be costly, requiring teams to recollect field data. Instead of resurveying all data, Katapult Pro has a way of recycling height photo data and make ready engineering from the original survey to cut costs and calendar days and simplify the redesign process required to clean up any violations. 


This way teams can perform post-construction inspections for a fraction of the cost. As a bonus, it also helps solve double wood issues with clearer communication and visibility for pole transfers when pole replacements are necessary. We go into more detail about our PCI functions here. 


We’re excited to see how our grid can become safer and more robust as PCI becomes standard practice in healthy joint use programs across the country. 


With our new 2024 packages, PCI functionality is included with every Katapult Pro product offering for faster workflows and a safer grid. Interested in learning more? Contact us today!


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