Lots of Prep Work Needed to Ready Towers for Repack

Inside Towers has been reporting there are several things broadcast owners and their engineers should do early in order to prepare for the television channel repack. Now the need for tower prep is urgent as companies are booking their crews for repack-related work as well as other types of jobs.

Vertical Technology Services Chief Operations Officer Paul Fitts says his company is now booking repack work for 2019. He told attendees of the Society of Broadcast Engineers Chapter 37 meeting in Washington, D.C. earlier this week, the industry has identified about 14 companies considered qualified, experienced and equipped to conduct the tall broadcast tower work. His is one of those 14; that small number alone could impact the pace of the work, as well as weather, manpower, fabrication errors, emergency work and injuries, he said. 

Many tower owners don’t have accurate records of what equipment is on their tenant’s structures, including transmission lines and antennas. These towers will need to be mapped so a structural engineer can analyze the loading, according to Fitts. The RF needs to be mapped too so the crew can stay out of the RF fields while working on the structure.

Transmitters will need to be replaced; their buildings need to be mapped as well to ensure there’s enough space for the new transmitters, plus filters and combiners. Many broadcast towers do not have “as built” structure drawings; these towers will need a crew to verify tower member sizes, including legs, diagonals, horizontals, and guy wires. All of the mapping combined could range from $8,000 to $48,000, depending on the complexity of the mapping requested and/or required, estimates VTS.

Items that may need to be taken care of now due to corrosion include replacing guy wires and reinforcing tower anchors. He said already, there’s generally a three to four-month wait for guy wire delivery to a site.

Asked how to spot an unqualified climber, Fitts suggests a station engineer review the tower crew’s pre-planning material. “Before a crew shows up they should have a rigging plan in place,” said Fitts.

“The main thing to watch out for is people trying to cut corners,” he said. “If you’re nervous about a crew on your tower, we’ll look at the rigging plan” meaning VTS will provide a brief review from a rigger’s viewpoint (not an engineer’s review) for its customers that own towers.

July 14, 2017

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