Reliability of electrical power is something we usually take for granted but at EDM International it’s the name of the game, as the Fort Collins company delivers the services and products to help electric utilities keep the lights on.

Spun out of research at Colorado State University in 2000 by four professors, EDM now works with utilities all across America and internationally.

Neil Hurst, EDM’s engineering manager says while EDM also does work for energy, construction and communication companies, it’s electric utilities that get the lion’s share of their attention.

“It’s electric utilities, it really is — the delivery of power,” says Hurst. “The bread and butter of EDM is to help utilities maintain their overhead power lines.”

Hurst says EDM takes a customized approach to the needs of its clients. “We look for the needs of the customer and we try to meet those needs as best we can. We listen to them, collect their feedback and come up with something that meets that need.”

Helping EDM along the way for the last four years has been Avid Product Development. Avid has helped EDM with the design and production of the products the company offers.

“Because we’re a smaller firm, product development is one part of a much bigger picture,” says Hurst. “Avid fills a very important niche for the design and production of smaller products.

“They have fast turnaround rates on their designs and they’re very responsive.”

Innovation and reliability

Hurst says an ongoing collaborative relationship with Avid helps EDM achieve its benchmarks of “innovation and reliability.”

“Reliability is the service we provide in helping utilities inspect their systems, provide reports and help them meet their demands.

“Innovation is listening to their needs and creating solutions to meet those needs.”

EDM has about 50 employees, with its headquarters in Fort Collins, Colo. and offices in California and Montana. The company has been employee-owned since its inception.

“It’s been that way since the beginning,” says Hurst, noting that the company has been profitable virtually every year.
“It’s worked out well. We have our own board of directors and more or less manage ourselves.

“If employees are invested in it, they put the extra effort into it and it makes a difference.”

Hurst says EDM focuses on helping utilities manage their assets to stay ahead of problems and avoid power outages as much as possible.

“In this case, the assets are their overhead structures – poles, wires, etc.,” he says. “We can predict the end-of-life for those structures, which allows utilities to proactively budget to replace those things.

“We help them work through the math,” Hurst adds. “With proper maintenance, they will last a long time.”

Hurst says having a partner with Avid’s Product Development experience has been a great advantage for EDM. “The 3D printing has become a wonderful low-cost option for smaller companies like ours,” he says. “It’s a great one-stop shop for all of that. They make it a nice, seamless, turnkey effort for small volume design and production.”

Hurst says Avid can handle EDM’s 3D initial production and also injection molding design when EDM is ready to ramp up production.

Close relationship

Doug Collins, Avid Product Development owner, says his company has worked very closely with EDM.

“Avid has helped develop (EDM’s) ConductaClean, which is currently on the market, and AP30jr, which is just finishing development and about to be introduced to the market.

“Avid has provided product design, prototyping and low-volume manufacturing for both products.”

ConductaClean is a tool that helps utility transmission and distribution workers clean aluminum overhead conductors.
AP30jr is a new phase identification tool for line inspection crews.

EDM’s Hurst says Avid has played a significant part in getting the company’s products designed and made.

“The wonderful thing about them is we don’t just make a decision and they do it. There’s a lot of positive input from them.”

Hurst says his relationship with Collins and Avid is likely to last a long time.