Asset Program Management

Why Forensic Failure Investigation Is Essential for a Successful Asset Management Program

October 11, 2021

At a Glance:

  • Despite our best efforts to educate asset owners on transmission line maintenance, steel poles, towers, and their components fail because they haven’t been properly built, installed, or maintained.
  • When failures occur, forensic investigation by Exo will give comprehensive, actionable data on what went wrong and how to fix existing assets so that may also be compromised.
  • Exo offers turnkey solutions so that you can remediate and repair steel assets, and maintain them over time, which ultimately saves the asset owner money and helps their reputation as a reliable power company.

Maintaining reliable power is in the best interest of everyone across the country. Our homes, businesses, and all of society can’t survive without it. A partnership with Exo allows utility owners to keep their assets running optimally, ensuring structures reach their full lifecycle, are safe for the public, and offer better overall grid resiliency.

However, despite our best efforts as utility professionals to protect and maintain our structural transmission, substation, and distribution assets, failures still happen.

In these unfortunate situations, it is critical that the asset owner understand why the failure occurred so that they can identify the cause and prevent future occurrences on similar assets. Without making proper remediations, catastrophic asset failure will occur, costing the asset owner exorbitant amounts of money, possible liability issues, and damaging overall grid resiliency.

Over the years, we have seen that asset owners must have a robust asset management program in place for their steel assets to reach their full intended lifecycle. A forensic failure investigation should be part of any asset maintenance plan to understand why a structure fails and how to prevent further issues.

Unplanned outages are extremely costly, they present a safety issue, and they are damaging to your brand.

With a forensic failure investigation with Exo, we will:

  • Address design flaws that may be present in other assets: Typically, if one steel pole has excessive corrosion, coating failure, or weld defects, other poles in the line will too.
  • Address manufacturing issues that may have caused the failure: This holds the manufacturer accountable for fixing issues so that all costs aren’t the asset owner’s responsibility.
  • Recover potential damages under warranty: It’s imperative to have these issues fixed before the end of your warranty. An end of warranty investigation with Exo will provide recommended next steps so that the manufacturer is responsible for repairing flaws.

What Issues Will a Forensic Failure Investigation Uncover?

There are often elements of steel assets that are unseen to the naked eye that can cause extreme failure. For example, corrosion below groundline is a large culprit of failed assets. Without implementing a thorough forensic investigation after incidents occur, you will not be able to fully understand the root cause of the problem, making further risk mitigation a challenge.

Corrosion isn’t the only issue your utility could face. Weld defects are another problem we see on steel transmission poles and can affect an asset’s ability to reach its full lifecycle. Most weld defects are caused by manufacturing oversights. Some of the most common weld defects we uncover during inspections include:

  • Post-Galvanizing Toe Cracks
  • Lack of Weld Penetration
  • Lack of Fusion

Exo can also test concrete foundations. We will take core samples and perform laboratory testing to determine the chemical and physical properties of the material, and analyze that data to understand how these factors may have contributed to a failure.  With this information, an optimized remediation strategy can be developed and executed.

No matter what the cause of failure, with a forensic failure investigation as part of your asset management strategy, you will be provided with actionable data that pinpoints exactly where the structure is compromised so that you can remediate other similar issues on the rest of the transmission line.

Why Exo Is Your Ideal Forensic Failure Investigation Partner

Exo has specific experience in steel poles, lattice towers, and their components. By working with a knowledgeable partner like Exo, you will have specific insight into your transmission line. Our turnkey solutions will set you up for success so that you have the exact information you need to make the exact repairs you need before catastrophic failure, allowing your assets to reach their full intended lifecycle.

Critical Elements of Failure Investigation:

  1. Prepare an investigation kit in advance. This could include various methods of nondestructive testing.
  2. Visit the site as soon as it is practical to preserve the failure condition. Often, asset owners may think they need total replacement, costing them tons of money. However, Exo is often able to design, fabricate, and install turnkey solutions for a steel asset so that it doesn’t need total replacement and can keep the power running, maintaining grid resiliency.
  3. We will photograph everything: With the use of drones (UAS), we are able to see the ins and outs of your assets, which allows us to understand and recommend proper next steps.
  4. We will document peripheral conditions: We will take into account the damage due to service territory, age, and type of asset to assess how and why the issues have occurred to mitigate future risk.
  5. We always enter a scene with an open mind. Sometimes external factors and initial evidence may point to one cause, but deeper investigation yields another conclusion entirely.

Ready to Make a Forensic Failure Investigation Plan With Exo?

Only Exo has a comprehensive understanding of the exact needs of your transmission line. For turnkey solutions for your steel assets, contact Exo today!

Get Started with Exo

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Our team would love to talk to you, so we can learn about your lighting company’s goals and primary areas of concern. Contact us today, and we’ll help you take the first step in creating a comprehensive lighting asset management program. Give us a call at 281-259-7000.
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