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Towers are all over our country, serving many different purposes such as cell towers, telecommunication towers, and others.
Here are some of the commonly asked questions about these giant, towering structures!
What are the different type of towers with foundations?
Towers are tall, massive structures built to support various items including communication equipment, storage tanks, wind turbines and street lights. Towers usually consist of four components:
- The underground foundation (also called the footing or caisson)
- A column
- A building or wall
- An antenna or other equipment.
For deep foundations, the base is formed by driving sheet pilings into the ground to form a mat (footing), which supports the column above it.
The column extends above the footing and transfers its load down through to footings on other side of building which are driven upwards down into deeper layers of soil; each one of these footings may form part of a deep foundation which together support the entire weight of building .
Towers can also be supported by a combination of columns and pilings, where a smaller tower is placed on top of a larger one to transfer the load down.
What is a cell phone tower?
-A cell phone tower is a tall structure, usually a steel lattice tower, used for carrying wireless telecommunications like GSM, CDMA or 3G signals. A cell phone tower does not provide power to the mobile devices connected to it. They are called base transceiver stations (BTS) in 2G and 4G mobile communication.
What is a cell phone tower made of?
- A cellular base station is usually composed of the following equipment:
- Vertical structure to support antennas, masts or towers;
- Equipment shelter (building);
- Power generator (optional); and
- BTS cabinets containing the radio equipment.
The tower structure is often an antenna support mast or a self-supporting tower. The equipment shelter (building) contains rackmount equipment, batteries, power converters, air conditioning and other back office equipment.
Many cell phone towers are disguised as trees or camouflaged dome-shaped structures so that they do not detract from the appearance of the area, while others are wholly or partially underground.
The first structure (i.e., before any equipment is installed) is known as a "ground-mount", which can be an independent tower structure or connected to an existing man-made structure such as a building or water tower .
What are telecommunication towers?
A telecommunication tower is a tall structure, usually a steel lattice tower, used for carrying wireless telecommunications like GSM , CDMA or 3G signals .
Telecommunication towers are typically maintained in two different types:
- Self-supporting (free-standing) constructions which can be an independent antenna support mast on buildings and towers or a related structure of an existing building,
- Support towers with masts by four guys.
What is the difference between a cell phone tower and a telecommunication tower?
Towers that carry antennas for radio and television broadcasting and wireless communications such as GSM, CDMA etc. in 2G and 4G mobile communication , known as telecommunication towers or cellular towers, are usually very tall constructions.
How are the towers maintained?
Because telecommunication towers are typically very high, access to them can be a major problem. In many countries, this requires planning for the provision of maintenance platforms and cradles along with associated hoists. This need may be exacerbated by other factors such as changes in coverage requirements or new technologies that add antennas and equipment to rooftops.
- A cell phone tower does not provide power to the mobile devices connected to it. They are called base transceiver stations (BTS) in 2G and 4G mobile communication.
Telecommunication towers are typically maintained in two different types:
- Support towers with masts by four guys.
- A cell phone tower is a tall structure, usually a steel lattice tower, used for carrying wireless telecommunications like GSM , CDMA or 3G signals .
How are cell and telecommunication towers built?
The cellular telecommunication tower typically consists of multiple sections that are often prefabricated for easy assembly on site:
- The base (foundation) which is a concrete slab poured on grade and dug into the earth to provide adequate bearing capacity.
- A tower section, typically varying in size from or . These sections are fabricated and taken to site where they are welded together (over-the-air) at heights up to .
- A base isolator system such as spring pads, sliding isolators and adjustable hydraulic cylinders.
- An antenna mounting system which may be a bracket or dome with antennas attached to it.
What engineering is involved with the building of telecommunication towers?
The design of telecommunication towers is a complex task that requires detailed engineering.
Typically, the engineer must determine the loads that are imposed on the tower by wind and ice as well as those from any dynamic effects such as vortex shedding . These can be significant forces with speeds up to 90 metres per second (200 mph) and air pressures hitting 15 pounds per square foot (1 kPa) respectively.
The engineering of a telecommunication tower is part of the design and construction process, which follows general procedures such as:
- A site investigation to determine if there are any environmentally sensitive or historical properties at or near the site.
- A review of local zoning requirements concerning height, safety distances from nearby objects, nearby flight paths and ground traffic patterns.
- A review of national/local building codes with respect to wind and ice loads as well as dynamic effects.
- An assessment of the strength and stiffness required for the tower components including foundations and anchorages.
- The selection of a suitable material such as steel or reinforced concrete.
- The design of all major components such as towers and foundation.
- The preparation of the tower erection plan and schedule.
The installation and construction of each component on site under safe conditions and in accordance with agreed timelines.
Tower engineering is a complex engineering task that requires detailed planning before its construction. Engineers consider local zoning requirements, ground traffic patterns, nearby flight paths and other issues.
Engineers also make sure that the tower can handle strong wind forces and weighs enough to withstand potential loads from ice or dynamic effects.
The engineer prepares a construction plan based on material selection , design of major components such as towers and foundation, the installation of each component on site, and follow a safe installation procedure.
The engineer is responsible for planning, designing, and engineering of the tower as well as its construction.
Once the initial design is complete, there are numerous other engineers involved with the process such as civil engineers , electrical engineers , material scientists etc. The more complex aspects of telecommunication towers like vibration and dynamic behavior necessitates the work of mechanical and electrical engineers.
The construction of a telecommunication tower is also a complex task that requires precise logistics and the right equipment. The more complex towers involve several companies, such as foundation subcontractors, crane operators, tower crews etc. to complete on time.
Engineers must abide by relevant codes and standards such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
The main goals of a telecommunication tower are to provide sufficient capacity for weather risks, resist wind loads, minimize vibrations, avoid overloading from ice accumulation, be cost effective and safe.
A professional engineer with expertise in telecommunication towers will ensure that the telecommunication tower is safe and strong enough to perform its function.
The engineer designs a tower which can sustain high wind speeds, resist ice accumulation and minimize vibration. A professional engineer specializing in telecommunication towers carries out construction of a tower with a safe schedule and procedure following local codes and standards.
While design specifications may vary, the basic nature of telecommunication towers is that they are high enough to provide coverage to a certain area. The design may vary depending on the layout of the area, requirement for aesthetics etc., but these factors must be balanced with other aspects such as capacity and wind speeds.
There are many complex challenges in telecommunication tower engineering . These include vibration and dynamic behavior, improved wind profiles and ice accumulation at high altitudes.
How are these tower inspected?
The inspections are carried out in different ways depending on the part of the structure. For example, the tower inspection for telecommunication towers includes inspections similar to one conducted when performing a bridge inspection .
There is an inspection of the foundation and ground condition as well as assessing load capacity based on stress levels or strain.
Similarly, there is an assessment of wind and weather conditions, and the condition of masonry and concrete. The tower is also subject to a number of tests such as corrosion inspections and load tests , particularly for telecommunication towers.
An inspection is carried out on the structure of the tower itself, looking at its response under certain environmental conditions such as wind or ice loads, ensuring it can handle these conditions safely and effectively.
The inspections also ensure that the tower continues to fulfill the design specifications, and addresses any issues in this respect.
There are several stages of inspections:
- Site safety: The site safety inspector ensures that safety procedures and reports are in place and adhered to throughout construction. Once the tower is built, it will be checked for any compliance issues or failures.
- Skyscraper inspection: This will include the physical inspection of the tower on site . The inspector may use a hoist to go up and check certain parts of the structure.
- System inspections: There are several systems involved with telecommunication towers, such as lighting , heating , ventilation etc., and these are all assessed by technical experts .
What is the role of an engineer in constructing telecommunication towers?
The construction of a telecommunication tower requires precise logistics and appropriate equipment to ensure that it meets specifications, fulfills its purpose safely and remains stable.
The more complex towers may involve several companies such as foundation subcontractors, crane operators etc. involved in their building.
The engineer will have a complete overview of these different elements and ensure that they fit together, along with the developer and property owner. His role involves overseeing design specifications, selection of materials , planning of construction stages, scheduling a safe work environment for workers on site etc. He carries out all necessary inspections to ensure that the tower is built as per specifications and that it does not pose a danger or risk to the public.
In addition, an engineer specializing in telecommunication towers will carry out assessments of problems such as ice accumulation on structures .
A larger construction firm may employ specialized engineers for this purpose. In general, engineers have various roles with regard to telecommunication tower engineering .
Some are involved in the design and development of these towers, while others are involved in their construction.
In addition, engineers also play a role in the inspection of telecommunication towers as well as testing for various issues such as wind speeds or corrosion.
Who regulates telecommunication tower engineering?
You must meet certain criteria to be a registered engineer. This varies from state to state, but generally speaking you must be a graduate engineer and have professional registration with an engineering council.
The regulatory bodies for telecommunication tower engineering include national or international organizations that provide information on safety standards and ensure their compliance . This is important to ensure worker safety and health, as well as the safety of the general public using the towers. The standards are updated over time to keep pace with new technologies and the changing demands of the industry.
Large consulting engineering firms provide a complete package on tower engineering, including design , development , assessment and management . They work closely on site with contractors on large projects to ensure they adhere to standards. In addition, they will also carry out wind testing on towers and provide a full report of their results to the developer.
The consulting engineers who specialize in telecommunication tower engineering also often have a hand in construction, even if only on a smaller scale.
They may be involved with the fabrication and assembly of parts, depending on their specialty.
Some companies have been known to take this up several notches by actually getting involved in the erection process, which is carried out by a separate company under close supervision.
What are some challenges faced by tower engineers?
One of the biggest issues facing tower engineers today is the increasing demand for better service and innovative technologies . They must carefully select materials to ensure they can withstand harsh weather conditions, including wind , ice , rain and other harsh weather. They must also be aware of the problems faced by older technologies, some of which were more susceptible to wind damage , ice build up etc.
For telecommunication tower engineering in particular, engineers need to take into account emerging technologies . The planning stage involves careful consideration of how best to utilize land space for optimum performance while keeping in mind current and future demand. In addition, they must consider what kind of equipment will be used on the tower to ensure that these do not interfere with a clear signal between a company's network and their clients .
Engineers also need to keep pace with ongoing research into new materials , which hold the promise of more efficient towers . New designs are always being developed to increase tower strength and stability . To ensure the safety of the public using telecommunication towers, engineers are also required to put in place detailed plans to evacuate people safely in the event of an emergency.