Fabricators are fully charged as orders keep climbing

Dec 01, 2008 | 08:12 AM |

Just look at the aging power infrastructure and mounting pressure to find alternative "eco-friendly" energy sources and it's not hard to see why utility tower demand is so strong that fabricators are struggling to keep pace.

Demand has been going through the roof for transmission towers in both the United States and Canada, according to Todd Shipway, director of sales and marketing at Locweld Inc., Candiac, Quebec, and that surge is expected to continue for at least the next 10 to 15 years.

Overall demand is so strong that it has already almost exceeded what tower fabricators can produce, Jeremy Moore, director of sales and marketing at FWT Inc., Fort Worth, Texas, said. "We are now just at the crest of a big boom."

Lead times have already extended out to 16 to 20 weeks vs. a more normal eight to 12 weeks, said David Ramsey, national sales manager for Rohn Products, Peoria, Ill., and all estimations are that it will only tighten further.

This is being facilitated by an increasing change of mindset on the part of utility regulators, Shipway said. "In the past it was difficult to get quick approvals; one project took over 16 years to be approved. Today, that can't happen. We can't wait that long, so there have been a number of efforts to accelerate the process in a reasonable way. It doesn't mean giving the utilities carte blanche, but there has been a lot more collaboration," he said.....

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