Keep Workers Safe with Traffic Incident Management Systems

The average number of car accidents in the U.S. each year is about 6 million. From fender benders to more serious crashes, many of these incidents result in considerable damage to cars,  property, and adjacent vegetation. They also pose a serious threat to the utilities that enable our society to function. Think about how many times you’ve driven by an accident and noticed that a car had damaged a utility pole. Now think about how emergency and traffic personnel must work with the utility company on that repair.

The answer comes in the form of a traffic incident management system, also known as TIMS. The system relates to the process needed to detect, respond to, and clear traffic incidents. The goal is to restore the flow of traffic as quickly as possible. This ensures the safety of motorists and those impacted by the crash and any workers or emergency personnel who play a role in the aftermath. (more…)

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Improving Grid Coverage in Rural Areas

America’s heartland is best characterized by the peaceful and serene landscapes that envelope it. It has hospitality for miles and feed stores that serve as gathering spots for the locals. Unfortunately, there’s another characteristic of America’s heartland that’s not so heartwarming. Aging and ill-equipped electric infrastructure that can lead to spotty coverage. However, good things could be on the horizon for these rural and underserved areas through new or revamped methods. (more…)

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Top Tips for Running a Virtual Tailgate Meeting

There’s been some debate over the transmission of COVID-19 and the likelihood of someone contracting the virus from surface exposure. We also know that close person-to-person contact is the most likely way it spreads. Official documentation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines “close contact” as being within about six feet of another person.

Abiding by these guidelines is certainly possible. For field technicians who work alone or on large infrastructure components allow for that kind of separation.  Unfortunately, not all facets of the job will support social distancing as seamlessly. As a result, utility companies have gotten creative. They’ve turned to technology for essential activities like meetings that require employees to gather together. Here’s a quick how-to on holding productive virtual tailgate meetings.  Along with tips on getting the most out of your employees’ time. (more…)

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Utility Customer Satisfaction Improves With Tech

Company executives have historically viewed data analytics and consumer intelligence giant, J.D. Power, as an all-knowing source when it comes to what customers want. Among other studies, the firm has conducted customer satisfaction surveys for decades. They routinely publish research on which industries (and companies) are making customers the happiest. There are also the times when analysis probes even deeper, searching for the way that customers feel about specific functions or operations. (more…)

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Vet Third-Party Inspections Vendors

In an ideal scenario, the installation of transformers, poles, fire hydrants, and gas utility lines that make up our utility infrastructure would go on without a hitch. Everything would operate as intended forever. While it’s true that equipment can run flawlessly, the odds of that actually happening are rare. Fragile parts that funnel electricity, pressure-packed water, and gas to our homes, businesses, and communities break down over time, and because of that reality, that utility companies should aim to inspect their assets regularly.

For many of these companies, the problem isn’t necessarily the willingness to accept that inspections are critical for longevity. It’s that they’re usually strapped for resources. Short on either time, trained professionals, or both, utility companies will turn to third-party vendors for help. If your company is one that’s struggling to meet the demands of inspection schedules and you’re considering outsourcing the work, here are some questions to ask yourself when vetting your future third-party inspections vendor. (more…)

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Locating Underground Utilities Prior to Digging: Three Reasons Why

Once utility lines moved from overhead to underground, service reliability improved markedly. While moving underground helped to ensure continuity, it also ushered in additional layers of complexity and challenges. No longer do homeowners, landscapers, construction companies and the utility companies themselves have a line of sight on these critical lines, which means one unlucky nudge of a shovel could result in a severed line and interrupted service.

The only way to safely and smartly proceed with a project that involves digging is to locate all underground utilities in the area before breaking any ground. Here are the top reasons underscoring the importance of properly locating utilities before digging. (more…)

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UPA Opens New Customer Service Center to Support Large U.S. Utility

After expanding a current partnership with a large United States-based utility provider, Utility Partners of America (UPA) has opened an additional customer service center near the UPA headquarters in Greenville, South Carolina. The new office has 75 employees who UPA hired and trained in support of the partner’s customer service needs, but company leaders expect that number to grow to more than 120.

The opening of the new customer service center on June, 1 2020 illustrates UPA’s growth and momentum in its quest to be a reliable ally to utility-focused businesses, a mission the company has upheld for more than two decades. With its headquarters at full capacity, the new center was needed as part of the recent expansion. The terms of the agreement between UPA and their partner are for three years.

While the work performed in the new center will be mainly focused on work order management,  UPA employees will be responsible for data management, investigations and customer service. The utility company involved approached UPA hoping to expand their current staffing resources in order to fully service their valued customers. (more…)

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Minimizing Damage When You Spring a Leak

Leaky infrastructure causes a loss of about 6 billion gallons of treated water in the United States each day. If it’s hard for you to fathom what 6 billion gallons of water looks like, here’s some real-world context: That amount of water could fill more than 9,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average water loss in systems is 16%. But the EPA also says that 75% of the loss is recoverable. It’s possible to reclaim a huge chunk of those 6 billion gallons. Good news for both the environment and utility companies’ bottom lines since they would generate more revenue. (more…)

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Utility Poles: Maintenance or Replacement

Moisture from driving rain, whipping winds, and flash floods are capable of doing a number on material left to the elements. It’s quite a feat that the average lifespan of a utility pole is 30 to 40 years. These wooden beams are critical to the way we operate as a society and serve a litany of purposes. Often housing multiple services like power, telephone, and cable on one pole.

According to Power Grid International, there are between 160 and 180 million wood utility poles in service in this country. Carrying a replacement cost of more than a thousand dollars per unit, some quick math tells us that these poles are among the most valuable assets a utility company owns. With so much money and business on the line (no pun intended), utility pole maintenance should be an essential undertaking. And a top priority. Here’s a quick rundown of a few things you should know about maintaining utility poles. (more…)

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Scope of Work Contract: How To Create One

In the construction industry, there isn’t a document more crucial to the satisfactory completion of a project than the blueprint. This technical drawing provides builders with a wall-by-wall guideline of an architect’s plans. When executed properly, it can ensure consistency and quality craftsmanship. However, businesses in just about every industry—from plumbing to utilities to appliance repair and more—should be taking a figurative page out of the construction book with another type of guideline. (more…)

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