Waynesboro electric serviceman Alex Parnell has his priorities in order. At home it’s family first; on the job, it’s safety for him and his team so everyone can go home safely each night. Those priorities also fuel Parnell’s passion for innovation and invention.
“Most of the things linemen use are created by linemen. I thought it would be cool to add to that legacy,” he said.
Working with Southern Company’s Everyday Solutions Program, Parnell is on his way to securing his second patent – this time for a high-tech version of an important tool for every lineman – the insulated pole, or hot stick. Parnell and Georgia Power apprentice lineman Brandon Hewett collaborated on the invention.
“We believe the Motorized Hot Stick could be the next big thing,” said Parnell. “It allows a lineman to work a tool at the end of a hot stick with the simple push of a button. It works like a regular stick but has the option to have mechanized tool attachments such as an impact head, wire cutter head, saw head, or rotating drill head for wire brushes.”
Parnell said he started to think about safety inventions for linemen about five years ago following a coworker’s on-the-job accident. The man’s foot was severely injured when the outrigger on a bucket truck came down on it. That incident led to Parnell’s first patent for the Outrigger Foot Protection Device. Though the invention hasn’t made it into commercial production, it did earn Parnell a Southern Company Innovate, Create and Educate Award in 2010.
Currently, Parnell is part of a pilot program which is developing and refining ideas to solve core business problems. Parnell is the only representative from Mississippi Power participating in the project. This year the three teams, made up of employees from across Southern Company and its operating companies, are implementing pilot projects to evaluate the effectiveness of the innovations. Parnell cannot reveal details of his team’s idea just yet, but he promises it has the potential to make power restoration more efficient and faster.
He also believes he may be inspiring the next generation of inventors – his own children.
“I will sit down and draw things, think outside the box, and my kids would start drawing things. It’s opened up my kids’ minds a bit,” he said.