Utility poles are a vital component of electrical power distribution networks in the United States and also carry lines for other services such as landline phones, internet, and cable. Even in a relatively small area, there can be thousands of such poles, and the utility companies and service providers that maintain them face some unique challenges. Harsh weather conditions, fallen trees, and roadside accidents are just a few of the many hazards that could impact the operation of utility poles and the equipment they support. One of the most effective ways to identify and track utility poles is to install a durable utility pole tag that will remain on the asset for its intended lifetime.
The standard utility pole tag will contain an assigned serial number but may also include additional information such as a barcode or company logo. Barcodes have become an especially useful component of modern digitized asset management systems, giving technicians in the field quick access to company data with a simple scan.
In this post, we’ll discuss four important reasons why it’s critical to choose the right utility pole tags. Without a little planning upfront, it can be easy to overlook important features that may improve the efficiency of your operation. You may also risk damage and the need for costly replacements when using tags that are not fully compatible with harsh outdoor conditions.
1. Asset Identification
Utility companies must manage a vast network of poles, wires, and equipment. The only way to reliably track all of these assets is with a comprehensive asset management system. Before purchasing new utility pole tags, it’s important to consider the design of the asset management program and the compatibility of each component.
Utility pole tags can have several potential features, including reflective coatings, barcodes, and color-coding. Each substrate material will support different characteristics, so it’s essential to match your asset management requirements with a specific tag. Also, since these tags are often installed as a long-term marking, choosing a proper design from the start can help your organization avoid costly replacements over time. Establishing proper asset categories and zones will also make it much easier to choose the right style of utility pole tag.
2. Maintenance and Upkeep
Utility workers are constantly inspecting components along the power grid and following up on maintenance and repair requests. Utility pole tags help these employees confirm the identity of each asset and avoid performing work on the wrong components. Some companies also integrate barcodes into their utility pole tags, providing an easy way to scan and access important data in the field. Choosing an optimal utility pole tag design can streamline your maintenance workflows, reduce service time, and improve your ability to maintain vital equipment.
The strength and specifications of each tag substrate material can vary widely. Choosing an optimal material is one of the most important decisions to make when purchasing utility pole tags. Utility poles encounter different weather conditions based on the regions in which they are installed, but all remain outdoors indefinitely. They may experience harsh weather conditions including hot summers with prolonged exposure to UV rays and high temperatures and harsh winters with exposure to sleet and snow. Temperatures may change often and cause utility poles to undergo constant cycles of freezing and thawing. The pole may also be subject to impact damage from roadside debris and wildlife.
Since it can be difficult to predict all hazards, many companies choose a durable material that can withstand a multitude of conditions. One example is Metalphoto® aluminum, a unique material that seals silver halide graphics beneath an anodic layer of aluminum. This material has an expected outdoor lifetime of over 20 years, which makes it an excellent substrate choice for durable utility pole tags.
4. Cost Management
One final reason for choosing optimal utility pole tags is the ability to successfully manage costs while operating a geographically dispersed asset network. Downtime and delays can be especially costly, and there is an expectation among customers to maintain a maximum level of uptime. When your utility poles are properly tracked, your team can assign tasks efficiently and keep up with ongoing maintenance management to reduce outages for unexpected repairs. Including a larger amount of useful information on a single utility pole tag also helps reduce the need for multiple markings and gives you a single label to manage for each asset.
Utility poles are found on most streets and supply important utilities to homes and businesses throughout the country. Companies that manage these assets can choose utility pole tags that make it easier to maintain their network. Utility pole tags can also be customized with barcodes and information that are fully compatible with an existing asset management system.