Weld defects are only one of the numerous issues 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: This common weld defect causes numerous failures on steel poles and davit arms. This weld defect occurs immediately following the hot-dip galvanizing process in the manufacturing factory. They’re called “toe cracks” because they occur in the “toe” of the pole shaft to the flange plate (base plate) weld. Post-galvanizing toe cracks are causing more catastrophic failures over time.
- Lack of Weld Penetration: Incomplete penetration is a weld defect that occurs when the weld bead does not start at the root of the weld groove.
- Lack of Fusion: Lack of fusion is a weld defect that refers to the poor adhesion of the weld bead to the base metal.
A quality assurance plan with Exo, exposes these oversights during in-plant inspection [LINK]. Additionally, when a structure experiences cyclic loading cycles, that fatigue can also lead to damaged welds which we diagnose and remediate in the field. Regardless of their cause, if deficient welds are not correctly identified or repaired, they could lead to structural failure of the steel pole, costing the asset owner money and liability issues.
Weld inspection has two components:
1. During fabrication in the facility – Repairs are the responsibility of the vendor and are less expensive to fix at this stage of the process. The cost of poor quality always increeases dramatically once defective product leaves the plant.
2. In field weld inspection – Catching manufacturing defects or other damage after the structures have been installed and put in service. Unfortunately, not all quality issues are caught prior to the product leaving the manufacturing plant. For this reason, it’s imperative to conduct inspections in the field before the warranty expires to ensure that no sturctural defects are present and mitigate the risk of potential failure. Fabrication defects and the risks they pose can affect your reputation.
Weld inspection relies on nondestructive testing (NDT) [LINK] to identify and remediate weld damage that puts your steel poles at risk. We implement the following NDT methods:
- Ultrasonic Testing (ut)
- Magnetic Particle Testing (mt)
- Dye Penetrant Testing (pt)
- Visual Inspection (vt)
- UAV/Drone Inspection
Finding and remediating welding issues effectively is essential to maintaining structural integrity and overall grid resiliency. By fixing these issues, you allow each asset to reach its full lifecycle. This allows owners to ensure there is no service disruption which makes them less liable for catastrophic issues and a more reliable service provider. Partnering with Exo ensures complex weld inspections and repairs are completed according to industry standards and best practices. We offer actionable data so that next steps are clearly outlined to make welds stronger, helping structures deliver maximum performance.