Advantages of Fibreglass Reinforced Composite Utility Poles
This project is currently on hold until a market is developed using the 3 different 15 mt sized tapered mandrils here. Currently the winder is used for a range of other straight mandrils from 100mm to 2mt.
- Lightweight - Poles are made from lighter weight fibreglass reinforced composites (FRC) making it much easier to transport them to remote and inaccessible areas. In many inaccessible locations, FRC is the only practical choice.
- Corrosion and insect resistant - Fibreglass poles are totally immune to the ground line deterioration that haunts wood, consequently regular ground line inspection and maintenance is no longer necessary. The FRC poles do not rot, rust, corrode, split or decay. The pole will maintain its initial strength throughout its long life.
- Aesthetically pleasing - FRC poles can be manufactured in the colour of the association’s choice, making a much more attractive installation than wood.
- Environmentally friendly - FRC poles are manufactured from stable materials. There are no toxic preservatives to leach out into the soil or water around the pole. Since they are classified as inert, disposal of a fibreglass pole is easier than a wood pole which is now classified as hazardous waste in some areas.
- Non Conductive - The FRC poles are classified inert and the structure is non-conductive and do not support combustion. Flash-over test results are available upon request.
- Fire Resistant - The FRC poles are manufactured from fire retardant materials. Tests are currently being performed to ENA test standards and results will be made available upon request.
- UV Protection - The FRC poles are manufactured using a 3 part system:
- The polyester resin system is pigmented with advanced UV inhibitors.
- A protective polyester veil provides a resin rich surface over the structural laminations.
- The outer surface of the pole is painted with a urethane paint coating which will last for decades.
- Life Expectancy - Based on US and European manufactures data and studies suggest the FRC poles have a life expectancy of 70 – 80 years. Combined with all the advantages, lower maintenance costs, lower transportation and handling the life-long installation cost becomes extremely competitive.
- Characteristics - Testing of the poles indicate consistent and predictable results thus allowing designers more confidence that the pole they select will provide the performance that is expected. The poles suffer negligible fatigue and degradation. Fittings and bolts remain tight. The poles are not affected by water, rot or high ambient temperatures. Any damage to the pole surface is visible and easily repaired.
- Transport and Storage - The FRC poles can be transported and stored in the same manner as timber poles. Because the poles are much lighter in weight they are considered safer to handle and are much more cost effective. Consideration must be given to protecting the surface of the pole using nylon straps instead of chains and dogs.
Problem Solving Application
One of the areas that make excellent use of the composite pole properties is for back-lot installations with restricted access. Because a few linesmen can hand carry the product into the area without the use of heavy equipment this can drastically reduce both the cost and the time needed for the replacement.
The non-conductive electrical properties of the composite structure make it a safer more viable alternative than thin-walled steel in this application.
Another area that we continue to see dramatic growth is in the area of severe climates. In climates where they have heavy wind loading the composite structure is especially suited to perform well because of its inherent properties. The ability of the structure to take shock loads to 80% of its ultimate without any damage or loss of strength allows the design engineer an extra level of security in specifying composite poles and cross-arms. We have seen in a number of areas that normal construction has not survived many of these storms and the composite structures remain undamaged. The ability of the pole to give with the load also reduces added stress and strain on other components of the line when severe weather is encountered.
Composite transmission and distribution poles have been successfully installed in very rugged terrain. These are applications where the line needed to be replaced and access to the location was limited to helicopters. Because the product is lightweight, almost 1/3 the weight of wood and easily handled, the installed cost was lower and safer than installing conventional wood poles.
These poles will also extend the life of the line and reduce the need to return to the location in the foreseeable future.
Materials Involved In The Manufacturing Process
The basis of the composite structure with the utility poles is the use of roving.
This is a glass product made up of many small fibres of glass to make a continuous roving of a specific yield. All glass for poles is received from proven suppliers and each shipment is certified to meet E-Glass specifications for our applications. This is the principal product for the filament wound product.
The utility poles use an outer layer of propriety veil coating to shield the fibreglass from blooming in the future. This is known as a polyester veil. In the filament winding process the veil is applied after all of the structural glass has been applied to the mandrel. This allows the veil to cure with the glass and produce a thick protective layer on the utility pole. This material is extremely important for any product that is in an outdoor environment.
The product uses a polyester-based resin system. Within this family of polyester resins there are thousands of variations. Each of our resins is formulated to meet a specific task.
Fibreglass structures are used in many outdoor applications in many industries with great success over the past 50 years. These range from Aerospace, Utility, Sporting Goods, Marine, Bridge Construction, Decking, and Grating. The growth of composites within the utility industry is an indication that we will continue to see more and more applications within this industry. The advantages of lighter weights, strength retention and longevity will further enhance their use in the utility industry