Eco-sustainable poles for aerial Telecommunication cable support.

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The problem. For aerial Telecommunication (TLC) cable lines, in most of the industrialized countries are widely used wood pole, chemically impregnated to prevent rot. The Telecom Company network in Italy consists of more than 10 million installed poles; every year more than 130.000 of these are replaced for maintenance. Similar situation is for the other countries across Europe. The chemicals used were different during the years: in the past Creosote mixture were used (mixture of aromatic chemicals), later, to extend the life of the pole, CCA salts were introduced (mixture of CromiumVI, Copper and Arsenic salts). Both those chemicals, Creosote and CCA, are currently considered toxic injurious at its end-of-life; to reduce the environmental impact in the recent years CSX (Copper based) salts were introduced, less toxic for environment, but less effective for wood protection, the wood pole life will be reduced. As alternative to impregnated wood, glass fiber resin composite materials will be used, with improved performance in wet environment, but more expensive than wood pole and with growing trouble for its end of life management.



The innovative solution. To improve environmental and economical impact maintaining the product functionality, a new pole was developed based on thermoplastic reinforced extruded materials. A new PP glass fiber compound with improved mechanical performance was developed and through an innovative extrusion technology, different prototypes poles were manufactured on a pilot line of a German Company, supplier of the machinery. The new poles were tested in a specialized laboratory and passed all the tests prescribed for this application, according to Telecom Company technical specification; some of these prototypes were installed in a pilot Telecom Company in Italian lines, in operating condition since July 2007, without any trouble. The new product does not show any environmental impact in operating condition and at its end-of-life is fully recyclable.



The industrial development. At this time the project is in the industrial deployment phase. On that respect R&D innovAction is going to find out and industrial company/investor for the deployment It  is necessary an investment including a complete extrusion line, very similar to those for plastic pipe extrusion, equipped with a proper machinery necessary to obtain the final tapered shape of the pole, higher diameter at the bottom and lower at the top, together with an on line process control. Until the number of poles produced will be limited (approx. 15.000-20.000 adopted by Telecom Company in Italy per year), the price will be competitive only against Glass Fiber resin pole; but as soon as the process will be industrialized and customers (the product will be proposed to other Telecom Company in Europe) will become confident in the new product, the production will be implemented and the same line will easily achieve a productivity of more than 50.000 pole per year, with a consistent contribution to reduce fixed production costs and investment depreciation. In this context the plastic pole will become competitive with wood impregnated pole where volume are consistently higher (more than 100.000 per year supplied by Telecom Company in Italy).

Additional benefits. The market consumption of TLC poles is widely used in any territories across Europe and overseas; in order to optimize logistics cost (the volume of the pole is more air than plastic) it will be important locate the manufacturing center nearby the end use. This will require at regime different production line for each country with a significant expansion of the business; so far the industrial model developed will be exported in many of the industrialized countries. Additionally the pole developed for TLC, will be easily extended in many other applications like Energy cable support and lighting.

Eco-sustainable poles for aerial Telecommunication cable support.
Eco-sustainable poles for aerial Telecommunication cable support.