Steel masts manufacturer Structa Technology has unveiled its new utility steel pole as part of its 200/240 range and has supplied these poles to State-owned power utility Eskom and various mining companies.
The patented oval steel utility pole was designed and developed over two years as an alternative to the traditional wooden and concrete utility poles available in South Africa.
They were produced for 11 kV to 66 kV distribution circuits and for distributing electrical and telecommunications services in rural and township areas.
The steel poles were designed to alleviate the shortage of the 11 m wooden poles and help solve the problem of cable theft, as the cables run inside the steel pole.
Eskom has tested and accepted the poles and these are listed on the service provider’s system. Structa has, to date, supplied about 6 000 poles to Eskom. The poles have also been tested by the Guangdong power utility in China and approved for use there.
Structa MD Hercules Rossouw says there were challenges in designing and testing the pole and getting Eskom and the global market to accept the product.
However, the response from companies has been positive and Structa now plans to also export the poles.
“We have already supplied poles to mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Namibia and these were used as lighting poles,” he says.
The 200/240 range is designed for universal application and allows for different configurations of phase carrier and for stay cable attachments.
Companies in the mining industry have approached Structa to specifically design 12 m and 13 m utility poles, with a thickness of 6 mm and a tipload of 8.5 kN.
Structa has supplied Sasol Mining’s Thubelisha mine, near Secunda, in Mpumalanga, with three hundred 13 m poles, which were used for the distribution of power and fibre optics for telecommunication lines.
The advantages of the steel poles’ range, compared with wooden poles, include an earthing advantage, owing to the steel material; no shortage of raw materials; being lighter and allowing for easier handling; no on-site preparation is required; and very little maintenance is needed during the product’s life cycle.
Another advantage is that the poles are fire- and rotproof. They are also difficult to cut down, which assists in preventing cable theft.
“Structa is happy about the positive feedback we have received, taking into consideration the wood shortage currently experienced, as well as the cable theft issue,” says Rossouw.
The universal transformer pole with internal cable ducts and cable locks is another product from Structa Technology that is aimed at ensuring cable security.
Other products designed and manufactured by the distributor include its Electrotower electrical distribution Mono Poles for single and double circuits for between 11 kV and 220 kV distribution lines and the H-type termination, strain and suspension structures, which are also available as double poles for between 22 kV and 132 kV lines.
Power utilities throughout Africa have successfully used the company’s 259 and 265 electrification poles.
Meanwhile, one of Structa’s future projects includes plans to locally fabricate steel components for the renewable-energy industry, such as wind turbine masts and solar panel support structures.