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Smart Compatible Units in Emergent Work

With the advent of the smart grid solution there would be an increasing need of smart planning and designing especially the routine repetitive work. Increase in the real time data coming from the Smart equipments in the upcoming Smart Grid World will ensure correct diagnosis of the issues and appropriate actions being taken. This will ensure faster response to the outages and reduction of manual effort as well as errors.

Utilities having up to date Outage management Systems can read the data coming from the smart equipments to effectively manage the Outage orders also can use the data to do a predictive analysis by helping the network operators to do a preventive or predictive management of operations. This idea can be extended in case of actual failures.

Basics of Compatible Unit

As is evident from the name compatible unit is a logical grouping of Basic elements which shares certain desired characteristics. The Compatible unit is a concept which is available in many COTS packages available in the market e.g. SAP ERP 6.0 Enhancement 2. ,Maximo.

Compatible Unit Management is best used for industries that design their work using standard units of work which are repeatable in nature. In the utility industry, the standard unit is referred to as a compatible unit (CU).

The compatible unit approach provides the following advantages:

  • Shorter design cycles
  • Efficient Scheduling
  • Efficient Accounting
  • Better Material Ordering Process
Smart Compatible Units

There are many ways of implementing compatible unit solution for a utility company and traditionally utilities have gone ahead with ways which suits their business. For e.g. Configuring CU at the material level i.e. each CU is a material and vice versa. One other option could be collection of materials associated to an operation and they in turn associate with task lists and at very top is CU. (described in Fig2)

The smart compatible unit will take the concept further and will have multiple task lists for a CU. Each would be unique and can have different operation, work center, labor hours and even material. Each task list would be mapped to a Problem code/Category code. Problem Code or the category is a parameter or a group of parameters which would uniquely define the type of failure and the type of remedy which is needed. For e.g. A problem code can determine whether a construction type crew needs to be send or engineering type of Crew needs to be sent. Along with achieving the crew assignment materials can be derived for the benefit of the crew. A typical high level Work flow is defined below.

Work Flow

As described in Figure 1 there are many problem recording devices which on event of failure can determine the problem code and send the information to WMS. Once the problem code is determined WMS will need to search with the asset indicator to identify whether there are pending orders on the Asset identified.

Once it is established that this is a new incident than WMS looks up asset module to determine the CU which make up the Asset at fault. Further it looks up whether there are any MDU and DU associated with it. This is needed to determine whether there are other related changes needed due to the fault Below is an example of typical Utility asset hierarchy. Based on the mapping of the Problem code and the task list the predetermined set of materials and crew type can be put on reservation. Labour Hours understandably could be inflated and decreased based on the field condition.

Design Unit

Design Unit is a Collection of a Compatible Units which make a complete electrical entity. One of the examples could be a Pole cross-arm, Insulator combination.

Major Design Unit

Major Design Unit is a collection of Design units and Compatible unit for a repeatable kind of work. Utilities can determine most used kind of designs which they do year after year with minor or no changes. Keeping this kind of design reduces the effort of planning and reduces human errors.

Once the related CUs are identified the task related to the CUs can auto populated in the incident. WMS life cycle will take is its own life cycle of material ordering and crew assignment.

Points to Ponder

  • The entire solution is based on the fact that there are relevant Problem codes which are recorded and maintained in the system based on the prior outages.
  • The idea is to reduce human intervention as much as possible and take advantage of the repeatability.
  • This does not provide alternative to Preventive and predictive maintenance.
  • The advantages are mostly in crew assignment material ordering processes for the emergency work. These historically are not tracked.
  • The above provides the ease for asset tracking and accounting operatives ensuring same ground rule as in case of capital work orders.
  • The advantages of the solution need to be quantified against the effort of building up a database of the problem codes and creation of smart compatible units.

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