CASE STUDY

Steel Structure Cyclical Assessment Program

Cyclical assessment yields improved safety, reliability, and excellent return on investment

The Situation

Operating and maintaining transmission systems requires regular intervals of vigilant observation to maintain the safety and reliability of all structures. A commonly overlooked concern with steel structures is detecting any below-grade corrosion activity and the rate at which it is occurs. When active corrosion is present and rapidly occurring, it can put large transmission systems at risk and significantly reduce reliability. 

A utility in east Tennessee initiated a pilot assessment project to determine the below-grade condition of their transmission system, which included more than 40,000 steel structures. This pilot assessment included the excavation of 240 towers, which revealed evidence of below-grade corrosion far more severe than anticipated. It was determined that one-third of the towers displayed heavy corrosion and would require restoration. The utility decided that a cyclical, comprehensive inspection program would provide the greatest long-term protection and extend the service life of the assets. The cyclical inspection program included a full excavation of each tower’s foundation and the application of protective coatings.

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