Crimping connections used to be a back-breaking, time-intensive process for linemen working for Pennyrile Rural Electric Cooperative in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The field crews relied on a mechanical “pop” tool, which required the linemen to squeeze two long handles together to make one crimp. This placed a lot of stress on their shoulders and arms.
To help improve both ergonomics and productivity, the utility recently invested in the SL-ND from Huskie Tools. The 6-ton compression tool is available with three different pull pin jaws, a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery and an AC or DC charger.
Pennyrile, which has been using 12- and 15-ton crimping tools for the last seven years, contacted Huskie about a battery-powered 6-ton crimping tool earlier this year, because field crews often needed a smaller crimper to make connections on a service they ran to a house and primary line and from one pole to the next.
Saving Time and Labor
The tool is about twice as fast as a traditional mechanical crimper. A job that might take one minute now takes about 30 seconds, and the time savings can add up quickly.
The day the utility got the tool, one of the crews was working on a three-phase service that had burned up at a school. The linemen had to make an additional run of quadraplex to the building for capacity. As a result, the linemen had to re-crimp all the connections. Overall, the crew made 120 crimps with just one battery.
Extending the Battery Life
A few years ago, Pennyrile considered purchasing an inline tool from Huskie, but at the time, the company only offered the product with nickel-cadmium (NiCad) batteries. Rather than purchasing at that time, Pennyrile waited until Huskie came out with its latest version with the Li-ion battery.
Unlike the NiCad batteries, which can be costly and unpredictable in performance, the Li-ion batteries have been long lasting and reliable. Since they first received the tool, the linemen are using it out in the field every day, and often, they're able to work an entire day on one battery.
When the battery's charge gets low, they simply plug it into a 120 AC charger in their trucks or a 12-V outlet, and then it's ready to go for the next day's work.
Another reason Pennyrile opted to purchase the tools for its field crews is to improve ergonomics. The new inline tool is not only quicker and easier to use, but the linemen also don't have to squeeze it or compress it with their arms and hands.
To use it, the linemen place the wires inside of tabs on the connector, slide the tool onto the connector and press a button. They then press a second button to release the jaws and crimp it again.
During the day-to-day operations, the linemen perform a lot of side-to-side crimps, and they have traditionally used a manual tool to perform this function. With the new tool, however, they're able to press a button and make one crimp after another. This is especially useful in underground padmount transformers, where linemen can maneuver the head of the tool in the padmount and make the crimp without the handle getting in the way.
The company initially purchased five tools for its field crews; three of the tools were sent to the district offices and two were given to the corporate offices. If the tool works well for the field crews, the utility plans on purchasing 20 more tools so it can equip each bucket truck with the new battery-powered crimper.
Freddie Powell (firstname.lastname@example.org), vice president of operations, has been with Pennyrile Rural Electric Coop for 30 years.
Frank Cohoon (email@example.com), a foreman, has been with Pennyrile Rural Electric Coop for 31 years.