In our last article, we talked a bit about why route determination and optimization is a tough role to fill without highly experienced staff. Because it takes years to learn the nuances of the industry, teams working on these projects often struggle to stay agile. A specialist's strength isn't always his/her flexibility, especially when they've spent 5+ years becoming an expert on a niche workflow. As I discussed previously, our solution to this problem is to keep our expertise in the office, while inexperienced field technicians and back-office OSP designers get a chance to sink their teeth into new workflows and challenges. In this setup, new staff members get a chance to move at their own pace with the support of OSP and Distribution engineers available to answer their questions. While this structure is critical for both employee development and organizational flexibility, it's not enough to ensure project scalability and profitability. There are a few other key strategies that will be necessary, such as great training, a healthy work culture, and leveraging technology. Our answer to this last piece is our software platform. Below, I will outline how route determination is performed in Katapult Pro.
1. Import the intended locations using Katapult Pro map layer
Use the map layers menu to import a KMZ, a KML, or a zip containing shapefile data. You can also import locations using a spreadsheet. You can import different layers and control whether clicking on them brings up their source data in Katapult Pro.
2. Design multiple potential routes using OSP design tools
Once you can pull up the intended path in your map layers, use the aerial design tools to place poles for different potential routes that would get your plant from point A to point B. In the example below, there are parallel pole lines that allow for a few alternative paths. During this step, you can leave notes for your field crews to check for guying/anchor options or other helpful information.
3. Collect data for all routes in the field.
Next, your field crew can deploy to the locations that you designed, capturing existing conditions and taking high-quality photos of each pole. Later, these photos will be measured to determine necessary make ready. After the field crews return to the office, they'll upload their photos for office processors to begin the next step.
4. Process the data and determine the necessary make ready for each potential path
Once the photos have been uploaded, remote staff will calibrate and categorize each photo so that OSP designers can start annotating existing conditions and proposing the cheapest make ready solution to accommodate the proposed attachments. Katapult Pro's Make Ready tool automatically flags make ready violations, allowing inexperienced staff to call basic make ready and learn how to solve more complicated situations with the support of more experienced staff.
5. Create a heat map of make ready costs to determine final route
Depending on which make ready moves were proposed, each pole's map style will update, creating a heat map of potential make ready costs for each potential path. In the image below, green nodes represent poles with no make ready, yellow nodes represent poles with communications make ready, and red nodes represent poles with complex electrical make ready. Not all complex make ready is avoidable, but a heat map like this will help inform the final decision.
Thanks for reading! Questions or comments about route determination in Katapult Pro, call us or shoot us a message at email@example.com. How can we improve our documentation? Let us know in the comments below!