Do You Close Out Properly?

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Close out packages are one step in the process. One that really matters to get paid. If you have ever done a close out package then you know how long they can take. You need to verify everything at the site and you need to take a photo of everything on the tower. This is where you can document everything. Personally, you should have everything documented prior to hanging it on the tower and you should know all of the serial numbers before it was hung and where they are. But this isn’t a perfect world and there have been so many mistakes in the past that they need to verify everything with close out packages. They may not even be done by the installers. Maybe a close out crew or a Tiger Team that goes in after the fact. Documentation matters for so many reasons.

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One thing I hear about is how many crews need to make a second trip out to the tower site to complete the closeout package. This is a common thing but wouldn’t it be nice to do it right the first time? As you all know I am a fan of Field Dailies for close out packages. The reason is that they have streamlined the close out process by using dog-tags_clearbackgrondyour iPhone, or Droid, to send the site pictures direct from the site to a document. This is a software package that uses the cloud to process the pictures and put them into the closeout document. That way the climber doesn’t have to worry about going back to the room at night and either emailing them to someone or putting them into the document themselves. It also saves the office people from looking over each picture and hoping that they are named correctly for the document. Remember if something is wrong it causes problems down the road.

I am not sure if you know but carriers really use the close out documents more than you know. They are going to rely on that document to verify their work orders when turning up the site. If there are problems they are going to reference the document to verify grounding. When they pay the crews they will review the serial numbers in the pictures and documentation to make sure that all the OEM equipment is where I should be. This is the key to all the contractors getting paid.

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If there are upgrades they will refer to the documentation to verify the serial numbers so they can cross reference what hardware version the RRH is. They may also like to review the plumbing on the tower. What this is the cabling needs to be correct. Now, with MIMO and multiband RRHs, the connections to the antennas are critical. There could be 1 to 8 RF cables from the RRH to each antenna. It might not be noticeable immediately but id the cables are messed up, then coverage is messed up and then someone has to go out and troubleshoot and fix it!

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So again, when using Field Dailies you can provide the streamline process from the tower to the closeout document. The climber can name the photo and upload it, if they have coverage, immediately to the directory in the cloud. Then from there the app will put it into the document for you. All the office people have to do is inspect, clean up, and verify the pictures are clear and accurate. It saves so much time. Anything that saves time in the process is good. Workers already spent a full day at the site, why should they sit around and spend all night labeling and posting pictures. Then if there is a problem with the internet connection or their laptop, that adds a longer delay. Just do it all in one process.

Now, the future may hold new ideas. I hear a lot about drones doing more and more. I think if logistics and installation can properly ID the serial numbers before the equipment goes up then the drones may be used for a light close out package along with post installation inspections. I really think that they can streamline the process and cut costs. If you could send one person out to take the pictures then it helps. They should save time because they won’t be climbing, just prepping the drone to fly up and inspect. I hope that Field Dailies will come up with a drone package so they can help make that a clean and efficient process as well.

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When closing out make sure that you Know the SOW before you start. Before going up in the air make sure that you understand what you are inspecting, what pictures need to be taken, and what information needs to be gathered. The scope needs to be known before you start. You may need to look at not only the antennas and RRHs, but where they are, the tape measure drop, the cable connection verification, and all grounding. It is tedious, but it need to be done to verify the installation. The close out is a type of inspection of the installation. When inspecting make sure it’s done right as well as taking pictures to verify.  Not only the parts high up, but the cabling and grounding coming down and the equipment in the cabinet or shelter.

What do you think? Let me know and tell me how you complete your close out packages. Will this be an asset for small cells and CRAN? Will it help out with DAS? I hear many of you are already doing it.

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