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SSS upgrades a landmark tower in St. Louis (2017)

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The Ameren communication tower in Downtown St. Louis has been a vital asset for the region’s electric and gas utility provider for many years. Built in the 1960’s and standing 348-feet tall, this 50-year-old communication tower represents multiple generations of utility communication technologies and equipment that have been deployed over the years.

Ameren recently selected Second Sight Systems to perform an inspection and mapping of the tower for purposes of preparing it for a next-generation network deployment. In order to better manage the data requirements associated with their AMI network spread across the states of Illinois and Missouri, Ameren is implementing a state-of-the art cellular LTE network for improved backhaul performance. To support this project, Ameren contracted with Second Sight Systems and our team of ComTrain-certified technicians to oversee everything from inspection, repairs, and ultimately the installation of new equipment.

Prior to loading up the tower with next-generation LTE technology, SSS performed a comprehensive inspection for documenting legacy equipment to be decommissioned along with repairing major structural and electrical grounding issues.

SSS embarked on the project in October of 2016, deploying our extensive expertise and industry-leading tower technicians. Through every phase of the project, we maintain a focus on safety and key repairs to ensure the highest level of service.

Check out our new SSS Tower Services video, courtesy of a high-definition drone filming our job at the Ameren tower.

The ultimate tower challenge

The Ameren tower presents the ultimate challenge. The tower supports high voltage, live transmission lines so there’s active voltage along with dangerous radio frequency signals. For complex projects similar to this, Ameren has come to rely on Second Sight Systems as a provider of ComTrain-certified tower technicians with Power Safe high-voltage training who also hold security clearance for utility restricted access points. This unique mix of experience and certification positions Second Sight Systems as a premier partner for complex communication tower projects.

In addition to inspecting the Ameren communication tower, the scope of work includes:

•Identify and decommission all legacy equipment
•Perform structural improvements to the body of the tower
•Bring it into compliance with the Motorola R56 specifications for electrical grounding and safety requirements

SSS must take inventory of everything, with the Ameren engineers and Second Sight Systems tower climbers staying in constant communication. We have to be very careful with the coax lines that are attached to antennas to confirm the correct coax is traced over hundreds of feet of line and safely removed while making sure not to disrupt service on active lines.

Phase 1: Inspecting the tower

Our initial step was to inspect and map the tower, including performing an electrical grounding and safety survey. With unwavering focus on safety, we deployed our ComTrain-certified technicians with Power Safe high-voltage training along with a FAA-certified drone operator. The use of a drone provides high definition video and still images of the tower which allows Ameren and Second Sight Systems improved reference points when discussing various sections of the tower.

SSS using certified drone to capture video and images of the Ameren transmission tower

SSS using certified drone to capture video and images of the Ameren transmission tower.

Based on the inspection, we then submitted recommendations to decommission parts of the tower, and implement structural repairs including repairing antennas and installing a new safety ladder. Our focus now is on getting the tower cleaned up to implement the major upgrades.

Towers are landmarks

SSS is more than prepared to meet the increasing demand for tower upgrades. Towers not only support communications, they are vital structural landmarks for many cities. Working with a third-party such as SSS provides tower operators the certified experts and experience to bring their valuable tower assets up to standard. With SSS, you will not only get the excellent tower services you need but you can guarantee the work will be completed on time and with the highest safety standards in the industry.

SSS is a one-stop partner for tower inspection, cabling and equipment removal, including heavy rigging capabilities for microwave dishes and antennas. Learn more about our Tower Services now.