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Make Ready Engineering

Make Ready Definition

Make ready is the process by which poles are prepared for new attachments. Before attaching a telecommunications cable to a utility pole, work may need to be done to ensure safety and reliability. By keeping our poles up to standards, make ready serves to protect linemen, communication workers, and our communities—while also reducing the likelihood of avoidable power outages.

Make ready considers both vertical clearances from and between attachments and the physical forces acting on the pole. The latter is referred to as pole loading analysis, and it's how we make sure one big storm doesn't take out power for an entire region.

The Importance of Make Ready Engineering

Make ready protects the lives of linemen and communication workers, while also preventing power outages and property damage. By engineering new attachments to electrical and construction standards, the broadband deployment process can occur without jeopardizing safety or the reliability of the grid.

Four Questions to Answer about Make Ready

Calling make ready is tricky. It takes a delicate blend of creativity, experience, and technical expertise. Every project is unique, and messy situations abound. Make ready primarily deals with the following four questions and their answers:

1) Is the pole up to modern standards?

Construction standards evolve over time. Because it's impractical and unnecessary to hunt down and remedy every existing situation affected by these changes, certain situations are grandfathered into compliance because they were built correctly for their time and place. 

This is not the case when new work is performed on a pole. 

The first question to ask is whether or not your attachment request may require an upgrade to the pole in its existing state. Sometimes upgrading a pole to modern standards comes with only a minor cost—like raising an existing telephone cable to a new clearance requirement before attaching your fiber safely. In other situations, this may require replacing the entire pole and its associated material and labor costs. Over the course of a project, even a handful of pole replacements could incur many thousands of dollars in construction costs.

This is such a complicated question because it is difficult to solve who should pay for this work. It requires a great process for identifying the timeline of previous construction events, as well as a clear protocol for splitting up new construction costs appropriately. As a new attacher, you should assume the majority of all make ready costs will fall to you.

2) Is there enough space on the pole for your new attachment?

The next question is what most people think about when they think about make ready. Can we squeeze a new attachment onto this pole while staying 40" or more away from potentially energized components on the pole (neutrals, secondaries, drip loops, risers, etc)? The cost of creating space can vary from quite small to quite large depending on how many attachments need to move, whose attachments need to move, and whether or not the pole is big enough to accommodate a new attachment—even after things are moved around. 

Two other considerations fall under this category: guying and midspan clearances. The first requires figuring out if there is enough space (vertically and in the x/y plane) to guy your new attachment properly, and the second requires considering the existing space between attachments throughout the span and over critical crossings.

3) Will the new attachment cause the pole to fail?

This is where pole loading analysis comes into play. Even if there is enough space on the pole, guying may be needed to ensure the pole will not bend or break the next time a storm rolls through. In some situations, this requires replacement with a taller and/or thicker (stronger) pole.

4) How much will it cost (and how much time will it take) to turn any No's into Yes's?

Understanding make ready costs and timelines becomes critical to the planning phase of any broadband project. In some situations, make ready is unavoidable because less conventional options—such as underground deployment or fixed wireless—are unavailable or cost-prohibitive. In some areas, one-touch make ready (OTMR) is an option to reduce Simple make ready costs and streamline the process.

By estimating make ready costs and timelines (don't forget to consider DOT and RR permits!), communication providers can determine the best route and methods for broadband deployment to meet their ROI goals.

If you need help evaluating make ready costs, planning the best route, or equipping your team to keep up with unprecedented engineering volumes—don't hesitate to reach out! We're always happy to help you bring reliable utilities to your community.

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