Pole Loading Software Review: Sam Williams
Updated: Apr 4
Portrait of Katapult Engineering employee, Sam Williams
Meet Sam. I try not to pick favorites around the office, but I have to admit that he’s one of them. Sam is a math whiz, and secretly a ping pong ninja. When he is not doing pole loading or coding for us here at Katapult, he likes to kick around the soccer ball, and play card and board games. So, now that we reviewed some pole loading software platforms [see: Pole Loading Platforms O-Calc Pro, SPIDACalc and PoleForeman Go Head to Head: A Katapult Review] I wanted to get to the heart of it. I know we reviewed them, rated them and have been testing their limits, but which one do you like to actually use? So, I sat down with Sam and asked him a couple questions.
Isaac: Hey Sam, Thanks for letting me ask you some questions about your experience with some of the pole loading software we use here in the office. First off, what pole loading platforms are your experienced with?
Sam: SpidaCalc and PoleForeman.
Isaac: Which one have you spent the most time with?
Sam: PoleForeman, with all of the utility work we’ve done. Although I haven’t used it in a little while. We mainly use SPIDA for the bulk of our work.
Isaac: How much time do you think you have spent learning to become proficient in PoleForeman?
Sam: Pole Foreman was easier to learn; it’s a much simpler program. Dropdowns are fairly intuitive. I think I learned the basics in a half an hour or an hour. It was a Friday afternoon and they were trying to close a bunch of jobs and they [Katapult] just taught a bunch of people how to use it. SpidaCalc also didn’t take a lot of time either, but I needed to go back to Judah many times to ask specific questions. It’s a little less intuitive because there are so many tabs and different options you have.
Isaac: According to the review we published, we gave Spida a 4/10 for Simplicity, can you explain why you think it would get that low of a score?
Sam: The first time you open it up it’s very confusing, out of all the stuff I may use, I might only use about 30-40% of it, so like I’m sure for someone who have used it longer, there are features that I have never had to touch, but it probably makes their work much better.
Isaac: And you think that’s why we gave PoleForeman 8/10 in the simplicity column?
Sam:Yeah pretty much. If there was a feature in PoleForeman, I have used it. And it’s not like I’ve used it once, it’s something you use on a regular basis.
Isaac: It seems like SPIDA Calc and PoleForeman are built for different kinds of jobs. But which one would use for which kinds of jobs and why? If there is one you would use all the time which one would it be?
Sam: Yeah I think I would probably use SPIDA, just because of our export capabilities out of Katapult Pro, even though it’s a bit weird sometimes, and there is still a lot of mapping between items that you want to add to get a better model. Being able to export into PoleForeman, getting your poles in is pretty nice, I can even like put in the new cable directly in our software, I wouldn’t have to add it like I do in SPIDA, but as long as we have a client file it’s fine.
Another reason why I prefer to use SPIDA, they have a really nice 3D model. It’s just, it’s a really nice visual way to see how the pole is failing. Like in PoleForeman it’s just a couple graphs that you are looking at, you kind of have to interpret what you are looking at. That was one part of Pole Foreman that wasn’t intuitive that we actually contacted them about. We thought there wasn’t a way to see how the pole was failing. Essentially like if it needs guying when the poles aren’t in a straight line, we didn’t think there would be a way to tell, but there was a way to do it, it was a thing where if you like chose this option and then chose this other option, then you could but it was weird. That part was very confusing.
Isaac: Are you aware that PoleForeman was built for building new pole lines and SPIDA was built for existing?
Sam:I have heard that, it does make sense. Knowing that, it makes sense why PoleForeman is the way it is. Why it’s simple. It wasn’t built to do more than one pole at one time. That’s another advantage SPIDA has over PoleForeman is that you can have multiple poles in one file. Our exports into the pole loading software really make it much easier to do.
Isaac: Then to have to build it from scratch?
Isaac: Which one is easier to import into right now?
Sam: Right now, probably PoleForeman, but I think that’s kind of on our part, because we could probably setup better. Exporting into SPIDA is currently not as easy, but it could be, as long as we have a client file to map everything to.
Isaac: You are saying it’s easier to export to Pole Foreman right now than it is to SPIDA? Sam: Currently yes, because Pole Foreman doesn’t need a client file, there aren’t as many options. Whereas SPIDA if you don’t have a client file you need to manually map everything to make it work.
Isaac: I see, so as long as we have a model that tells us what each cable spec is in SPIDA and we don’t have to manually tell SPIDA, then it is super easy?
Sam: Correct, a nice thing though about Pole Foreman is that you can create a new framing unit, like with open secondary you have 3 cables, I don’t think there was a framing unit for that, so we just created one and then we could export right into it.
Isaac: You can’t do that with SPIDA?
Sam: Yeah, although that functionality wasn’t–you can tell that it wasn’t made to be mass used. More for someone with a computer science background.
Isaac: Yeah that makes sense.
Isaac: Overall you thought the scoring was fair on our review?
Sam: Yep! I haven’t used O-Calc yet but I think the other two were scored accurately.
Isaac: Cool, well thanks for sitting down with me quick, this has been fun.
Sam: Yeah, No problem this was fun.
I think it’s important to note here that Sam isn’t an engineer. Although he is a hard worker, a good coder, and very bright. His degree was in Mathematics. What I am trying to say is that when it comes down to it, the math behind Pole Loading isn’t rocket science, it’s all about balance. Weight, tensions, mass, force, these are all things we grow up learning. Pole Loading in our industry comes down to having the correct data to plug into the equation. My dad was a math teacher, and he always told us that the calculator is only as good as the numbers you put into it. We all know this but sometimes we can get lost and focus on different things that may draw us in to a shiner flashier calculator. The point is, you can have the best calculator out there, but if you don’t have good data to put into it, you will never get the right answer. This is what the Katapult methodology is all about. Good solid data from the start, collected efficiently and processed for producing these pole loading models.
Thanks for reading! Look for more interviews and more information about our new product Katapult Pro and ways you can start getting better data now.