New surveying equipment with global satellite technology allows a single Corn Belt Power Cooperative employee to complete what previously required a three or four-person crew to accomplish.
The Leica CS20 with global satellite sensors retrieves data from an average of 12 to 15 satellites to determine longitude, latitude and altitude of points on any terrain being surveyed. Cost of the equipment totaled approximately $20,000.
Dan Shiflett, right-of-way/land superintendent, explains, “Before, we would have one person walk with a range pole while another person would shoot the laser and pick up where the point is. Now, one person with the new equipment on a pole can push a button and record the longitude, latitude and altitude of where they are.”
Josie Ubben, drafting/design technician, imports the data from the new equipment into software where she can design new transmission lines and substation layouts or modify older lines and existing substations. Once she finishes the design, she can import that data into the survey equipment so crews can stake out structure or substation locations.
The new equipment can easily coordinate with an old survey, making the transition from the old methods to the new seamless.
Corn Belt Power purchased the new equipment from A&D Technical, Omaha, Neb. Trainers from the company conducted a two-day session for Shiflett, Ubben, Corie Erickson, assistant right-of-way/land supervisor, and personnel from the Field Engineering Department. The trainers plan to return when Corn Belt Power personnel use the new equipment in the field.
Shiflett said Corn Belt Power decided to purchase the new equipment in part because other entities the cooperative interacts with, such as the Department of Transportation and railroads, want longitude and latitude coordinates and the equipment Corn Belt Power previously used did not provide that information. Also, the older equipment no longer had replacement parts available.
“Before, we were limited by how far you could see to stake line. Now, there is no limit. We don’t have to worry about hills or valleys,” Shiflett explains.
Although the new global satellite technology has been available for several years, the newer models are more portable with smaller batteries than previous versions. Also, satellites are improved and are more compatible with the current technology than they were previously. Future development in global satellite technology will likely help deal with trees that can interfere with accessing satellite information in the summer and fall.