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Posted: March 13, 2013

Team looks into standardizing transmission line inspection

 Employees discusses requirements for consolidated transmission line inspection tools at a Sept. 5 T-line Project Team meeting.
 Employees discusses the requirements for consolidated transmission line inspection tools at a Sept. 5 T-line Project Team meeting in Fort Collins, Colo.

By Jen Neville

A cross-functional, Westernwide T-line Project Team, where t-line is an abbreviation for “transmission line,” is looking at ways to consolidate and standardize how maintenance crews inspect and document transmission line condition across its territory.

Western’s Maintenance managers chartered the team in summer 2012 to examine how regions inspect and report the condition of more than 17,000 miles of transmission line and related assets. “Our system spans most of the western half of the United States,” explained Bill Bailey, the team’s project manager out of the Corporate Services Office. “We are working to develop a common inspection approach so we can better evaluate the health of our system and more efficiently prioritize our maintenance and replacement work.”

To check the pulse of the system, the T-line Project Team needs to make sure it is collecting data consistently for all the lines, structures and assets. “We want to agree upon the definitions for explaining equipment condition, so that when we say a structure is in ‘good condition,’ that term means the same thing regardless of what region you’re in,” explained Bismarck Maintenance Specialist Supervisor Jerry Paulson.

In the end, the team’s goal is to make recommendations that address:

  • A path to align Western’s T-line inspection practices to a single common standard
  • How to accurately and uniformly characterize the current condition of Western’s T-line assets
  • Solutions that integrate data between the T-line software and our current tools, such as Maximo and

Analyzing the gap

The team held several meetings starting June 2012 to outline how to meet these goals and separated the project into two phases.

In the first phase, the team will conduct a gap analysis illustrating the steps needed to move from the current state of Western’s T-line inspection tools and practices to a future state that will align and improve the T-line inspection process, reduce support cost, improve reporting and improve the clarity and understanding of the health of Western’s transmission infrastructure. “Initially we are doing the gap analysis so we know where we are and where we want to be. Then we can come up with the proposals for how to get there,” said Desert Southwest GIS Technician Humberto Aceves, who works under the Tor contract.

The second phase will implement the recommendations from Phase 1. Bailey explained, “We really have a critical decision point after Phase 1 before we can determine how we move forward with Phase 2.”