The short answer is: it depends. Unlike wood poles, there are no industry inspection standards that accurately apply to everyone. Exo recommends that the Utility perform a structural inspection on all steel poles and towers to establish a health baseline. From there, an appropriate inspection and repair cadence can be established.
Engineered steel poles and towers can last for decades with proper manufacturing and installation and regular inspection. While the design life of steel transmission and lighting poles is typically 50 years, some towers in the industry have been in service for over 100 years.
A proactive, full lifecycle approach to asset management is the key to a reliable and long-lasting transmission tower. Regular inspection that focuses on corrosion, welding, coatings, and mechanical damage is the first step to an asset's long life span. Catching defects early and fixing them promptly is another critical element of asset longevity.
Steel transmission poles and lattice towers are engineered to last at least 50 years under normal operating conditions. Too often, manufacturing and fabrication quality defects cut those life spans well short of that goal. Now more than ever, Exo has seen the need for stronger quality assurance programs that target welding, cutting, and forming processes on the shop floor. Ignoring this critical stage in an asset's life will open the door for more manufacturing defects to escape the plant and cause problems in the field.
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