Article by Brian Feron | Originally published in Dialogue  Magazine, Issue 39; September 2017 (A Publication of the Ontario  Electrical League)

With ladders not an option for many commercial sites due to safety  concerns, equipment such as cherry pickers or scaffolds are often used.  With this equipment comes higher costs, such as needing additional  people to operate the equipment safely as well as the need for safety  harnesses, which all add to the overall project cost.

Scaffolding is difficult to justify, as it needs to be set up around  each individual pole, making it a slow, laborious and very expensive  option. The operator then needs to work outside any railings and often  at difficult angles to the location of the light. Cherry pickers and  elevating work platforms (EWP) also have similar limitations, as well as  the issue of getting the boom up high enough to complete the work.

Stairwells, platforms, high wind areas, high clash situations or  where other obstructions are hard to avoid (fences, parked cars, etc.)  mean it’s impossible to even consider the use of heavy equipment, which  results in ignoring the problem instead of fixing it.

What is the solution?


Many large global companies, such as those in mining or oil and gas,  have made the conversion to lowering poles using a swivel joint, to  achieve cost savings as well as improve safety on site. A swivel joint  allows these companies the ability to access equipment, without having  to shut down large parts of the operation, divert resources to conduct  this work or take longer than necessary to complete.

Swivel joints offer solutions to many pole-mounted access equipment,  such as in carparks, sports fields, on jetties, in driveways, and much  more. Mounting systems are also available for all the popular makes and  models of lighting, security, sensors, alarms and other equipment.

A case study: Carpark lighting in a Resort

Until recently, a large resort in a popular coastal city, wanted to  upgrade carpark lighting due to the age of existing lamps and to improve  guest and staff safety at night.

The manager calculated the cost to be around $1,000 per lamp, plus  the cost of the new luminaire. A contractor introduced the resort  manager to the idea of converting the existing fixed poles to lowering  poles for lamp maintenance. The system was demonstrated on the first  pole, and the owner was amazed that one person not only converted the  pole, but then changed the lighting to new brighter, cost saving LEDs.

The remaining poles were then changed over, and lighting upgraded in a  staged rollout across the resort. The resort manager also changed his  flagpoles to lowering poles to secure the flags which were being  regularly stolen.

Helping cash flow

The advantage of upgrading or installing poles in a staged approach  is easy to justify to the end-customer, as they can avoid shutting down,  stopping business or even working off-hours to avoid negative impacts  on business (at higher penalty rates).

Is it an expensive option?

Electrical contractors have the option of full pole solutions for new  sites, or just components needed to build-your-own lowering pole. Even  more cost effective, is the ability to convert a pole to a lowering  pole, without any impact on the existing wiring integrity.

How difficult is it to install?

Like anything, there is a learning process, and the first few  conversions or installations may take longer. Once familiar with the  process, it can take as little as 30 minutes for the conversion and the  upgrade of equipment. This means that instead of upgrading 3–4 poles a  day, they could do 12–16.

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