CU enters into drone technology; 2 engineers are licensed

Uses now include aerials, inspections

Posted 3/20/17

It was a day of show-and-tell at a recent session of the Cleveland Board of Public Utilities.

Bart Borden, vice president of the Electric Division, spent much of his report time discussing new and …

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CU enters into drone technology; 2 engineers are licensed

Uses now include aerials, inspections


It was a day of show-and-tell at a recent session of the Cleveland Board of Public Utilities.

Bart Borden, vice president of the Electric Division, spent much of his report time discussing new and needed equipment, including a high-technology drone. He also had a lengthy discussion on one of the utility’s greatest assets — the garage.

Borden announced that electrical engineer Jeff Luther, and engineering technician Nathan Casteel, have obtained their Federal Aviation Administration drone licenses by passing the FAA’s federal examination.

Luther provided the board with information on the utility’s purchase of the drone, at a cost of just over $1,700, and displayed some video of the craft in flight.

The drone was placed in operation over the Payne Gap Substation power transformer, over the new Mayor Tom Rowland Interchange in Southwest Cleveland (near the APD 40 Bypass and Exit 20 on Interstate 75), as well as aerial views of the utility’s power service center.

Luther said the drone had a range of about four miles, but it has to be in his line of sight for operation and utilization.

The electrical engineer went on to show the board some of the craft’s capabilities when coupled with software applications. He then put the drone through its maneuvers over specific locations in Cleveland Utilities’ service area.

At the conclusion of his presentation, he placed the drone back in its storage container.

Additional reports:

— Borden went on to focus on the recent installation by the utility’s line crew of a trip saver single phase recloser. This equipment was displayed by Borden at the board meeting.

The division manager said personnel have patrolled entire feeder circuits for District D-224, Lang Street L-214, and Valleyhead V-244.

“These circuits have experienced the highest interruption statistics on our system over the past year,” Borden said. “Our crews identified needed tree trimming, wildlife cover, and conductor clearance issues.”

He said any work identified, with the exception of the tree cutting which was referred to the utility’s tree maintenance contractor Asplundh, was immediately performed.

If any of the work required significant changes, it was referred to the engineering department for a work order.

“Engineering issued work orders for the addition of line fuses, these single-phase reclosers, primary and secondary conductor replacement, overhead fault indicators, and pole change cuts,” he said.

Borden said outage statistics relating to this work will be included in March’s report, for the board’s review.

— The division manager highlighted ongoing work and future plans for Cleveland Utilities’ garage. Roof replacement and repair are scheduled in the near future.

Borden said the garage crew maintains and repairs 123 vehicles for the utility. Its personnel is also responsible for every motorized and trailered piece of equipment that serves the Electric, Water, and Wastewater divisions.

“Preventive maintenance and repair are performed on a variety of other equipment, ranging from chainsaws, cars, pickups, as well as bucket, line trucks, cranes and vector trucks,” Borden continued.

He said specialized equipment includes backhoes, directional boring machines, generators, compressors, conductor pullers and tensioners.

The head of the Electric Division added that the diversity of equipment requires a broad level of knowledge and skills from each mechanic, especially in hydraulics. He said each possesses welding skills, computer diagnostic and analysis skills, electrical troubleshooting experience, and a well-rounded mechanical background.

DeWayne Harris is the fleet foreman, and is an 18.5-year employee of the utility. He is responsible for overseeing all maintenance scheduling, repair, parts ordering, assisting with vehicle specification preparation and record keeping for the garage.

James Milen and Jerod Pomeroy have almost 14 years of combined service at Cleveland Utilities, and each carries a Mechanic II classification.

Borden said these three leaders in the garage had 26.5 years’ combined experience in mechanical work — before coming to the utility. They now have a total of 59 years’ experience.

“Their knowledge and skill allow for in-house repair of many issues that have traditionally been performed by outside repair facilities,” said Borden.

He said examples of this include diesel particulate filter system replacement, fuel injector and fuel rail replacements, and hydraulic system repairs.

“Repairs such as these have saved us money by limiting down time of the units and cutting specialized labor costs,” Borden said. “Without their continued care and skill, we would be relying solely on outside facilities and their scheduling, which do not always coincide with our need to utilize equipment.”

The division manager praised the professionalism and expertise of these individuals, traits which are best demonstrated when storms or large water/sewer breaks occur, and all necessary personnel and equipment are on site until services are restored.

“We presently have a fleet of over 200 cars and pickups, large trucks, trailers and various other engine-operated equipment that serves all of our divisions,” Borden added. “I want to personally thank these employees for their hard work, and their dedication for keeping Cleveland Utilities on the road, and operating efficiently and safely.”


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