Traditionally, Power Line Technicians have maintained transmission lines by travelling on the ground from tower to tower, climbing to the top to perform their work, then climbing back down to drive to the next tower. While this method works, ATCO saw room for improvement and adapted an existing helicopter-based maintenance method.
After several months of testing and training, the Line Maintenance department of ATCO’s Electric Transmission Division implemented the new A-Step maintenance method.
The A-Step method involves a small set of stairs mounted to a helicopter. Power Line Technicians move from tower to tower via helicopter, using the A-Step to quickly and safely transfer themselves and their tools from a hovering helicopter to the top of each tower.
The new method provides a number of advantages:
Improved safety for technicians – reduces the time technicians are exposed to falls by 50 per cent, and technicians are connected to fall arrest gear at all times;
· Reduced environmental footprint – less travel on power line rights-of -way;
· More efficient – maintenance tasks are completed much more quickly and efficiently; and
· Cost-savings – eliminates the need to pay for temporary right-of-way access, crossing agreements for pipelines and other utility infrastructure.
The A-Step is a significant step forward for power line maintenance and just one example of how ATCO’s Electricity Global Business Unit will use innovative new construction and maintenance techniques to improve safety, increase performance, reduce environmental impacts and lower costs.