Transmission Tower Quality Assurance During a Global Pandemic
While no element of our lives may feel “normal” at this point, we are all tasked to navigate the murky waters of maintaining public health while providing the necessary services that keep our world spinning on a daily basis.
COVID-19 has disrupted global economies, supply chains and the basic fabric of our everyday lives; nevertheless, the generation and delivery of electric power remains one of the most essential business activities that cannot afford to be shut down. After all, we have to keep the lights on!
Despite all the uncertainty, utilities must continue to replace aging infrastructure and expand power delivery capacity through new construction projects. The poles and towers supplying those new transmission infrastructure projects will continue to be the backbone of our nation’s grid as we push forward and create a “new normal.”
Quality issues with newly fabricated steel poles and towers continue to plague the industry and utility transmission tower owners cannot lose sight of this fact. To do so would put your future O&M budgets and financial performance at risk.
Quality assurance programs and in-plant vendor surveillance initiatives must remain a top priority or you will undoubtedly face consequences down the road.
Challenges and Solutions to Quality Assurance During COVID-19
While infrastructure operations are essential, this doesn’t mean that infrastructure workers will be immune to the transmission of COVID-19. It is crucial for the health and safety of all involved that new considerations and caution are taken when assuring quality for power infrastructure.
Many critical aspects of in-plant quality assurance programs and steel pole vendor audits involve interacting with plant personnel in the office or on the shop floor, whether it is reviewing documentation or observing critical manufacturing processes. It is also necessary to perform hands on steel pole inspection and ndt inspection, which makes remote QA ineffective and impractical.
It is vital to remember to observe CDC guidelines for maintaining safe distances and wearing appropriate PPE to keep all parties involved safe. The efficacy of quality assurance activities is in no way affected by following these guidelines.
If auditing or performing third-party quality assurance at facilities in other countries, be aware of government quarantine requirements.
In some areas, travel may be prohibited, while others may require a 14-day quarantine in response. These factors must be considered when planning for projects. Ultimately, look for service providers with local assets that would not be affected by a quarantine.
On the whole, it may not be safe to travel (especially internationally) for quite some time. Even when government restrictions are lifted, individual companies may still opt to prohibit non-local service providers.
Again, look for service providers with local assets that are not impacted by restrictions.
At this point in time, many vendors are beginning to allow third-party partners back into their facilities again.
It is crucial– both for safety and for maintaining a working relationship– that understanding and following guidelines is made a top priority.
Be sure to communicate early about various needs specific to third-party access to plants and facilities to make sure that your technicians are sufficiently prepared. If plant access is still restricted, focus your efforts on outdoor laydown yards and galvanizers where access restrictions are less stringent and social distancing is easier to accomplish. There are also new technologies that make virtual access to these facilities possible. While the overall reach of this option may still be limited, it is still much better than abandoning your QA program and can still add significant value.
Contact Exo Today
In uncertain times, it is paramount to have a plan– and to have it quickly. If we ever intend to get back to managing transmission structures and steel pole fabrication in normal and efficient ways, we must be proactive in how we handle quality assurance.
At Exo, we don’t wait for problems to arise before we take action. Stop problems before they occur by calling today to talk with the Exo experts.