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Utility Pole Audits

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

We're entering that time of year where utilities start sending RFPs for system-wide audits of their distribution grid. These types of pole audits are crucial to maintaining a robust distribution system and accurate attachment records.

Though Katapult Pro has grown into a comprehensive platform for the third-party pole attachments process, many features and developments are a result of large-volume audit projects in markets across North America.

Across all scopes, the platform utilizes offline cameras to quickly capture detailed photos from the field. Because of the timestamps on each photo, teams can easily associate photos to true geolocations once they are back in the office and uploaded to Katapult Pro. Recently, we implemented Offline Mode so that crews could continue to work smoothly in areas with poor cell reception. Katapult Pro utilizes automated QA/QC tools to quickly categorize and scrape information from photos, and because all the data in the system is updated live and high quality, you can create custom, flexible deliverables available via direct download or SFTP/database integration.

Here are a few of the specific types of audits that are aligned well with our software, and how we use different tools and features to ensure project success:


1. Asset Inventory

High-resolution photos can be quite valuable to distribution engineering teams, especially when making decisions about equipment or the life of a pole. While their records likely indicate the type of equipment and the year it was installed, photos of assets' current state provide defensible evidence of the pole's condition and the health of different pieces of equipment.



Often, photos like this can be taken from a car traveling at low speeds which allows two-person crews (a driver and a photographer) to capture information from a thousand locations or more in a single day. Contact Andrew Bryden (abryden@katapultengineering.com) for more information about asset inventory projects!


2. Third-Party Attachment Audits

Another important type of pole audit revolves around third-party attachments. Smaller utilities often can collect much more rent from third-party attachers due to out-of-date records, so a system-wide attachments audit can be instrumental in updating records and discovering unapproved attachments.

These types of projects either involve identifying all attachments on each pole in the utility's grid or following a specific attacher's plant to document each pole they are attached to. In the former, surveyors can take detailed photos of the attachments to pull names or numbers from communication wraps to correctly identify each attacher on the pole. In the latter, it takes a bit more detective work and following strands to accurately map each attachment.



3. Post-Construction Surveys

With the new FCC ruling and the advent of OTMR, post-construction surveys will become a vital tool for utilities and ensuring that attachments are being built to spec and that make ready construction is being done according to distribution standards.

In Katapult Pro, most post-construction photos can be taken from any device, as calibration points from the original survey allow excellent calibration of the "after" photo. In situations where the pole is replaced, the post-construction photo would be taken using the standard photogrammetric workflow (height stick and calibrated lens).



4. Pole Transfers/Double Wood

Pole stub removal can be a rather tricky process, as it can take a long time for all attachers to transfer their cables to a new pole. Since the transfers are also supposed to happen in a specific order, it can be tough for attachers to know when they should send a bucket truck out and for utilities to know which stubs are ready to be pulled.

In the Katapult Pro platform, pole replacement locations can be surveyed quickly by a one-person crew, and data can be sent to the utility regarding the state of the pole transfer. Remaining attachers can also be notified of transfer locations that are awaiting their cables to be moved.



Thanks for reading! If you have questions about developing workflows for pole audits of any size, shoot us a message at contact@katapultengineering.com!

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