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Optimized Grid Operation and Maintenance with Fully Integrated Grid/Field-force Management Technology

Siavash Jamal

In large utilities- transmission or distribution level, carrying out maintenance, planned or unplanned, is all a matter of coordination:

  • Coordination with grid operation schedules, daily, mid-term, and long-term
  • Coordination of field crew, dispatching them in an efficient and optimized fashion, economically and technically
  • Coordination with maintenance department, inventory, maintenance planning
  • Coordination with online grid operation, permissions, supervisions, etc.
  • Post event coordination and documentations

Realizing such coordination with all departments, and specially the grid online operation, is a task that grows exponentially as the utility grid grows and the field crew grow organically.

Workforce Management 4.0, a scheme based on Industrial revolution 4.0, is here to help. A unified, integrated, online and real time maintenance and field-force management solution can increase the level of efficiency, service, cost-effectiveness and success, and also reduce the risk factors significantly.

A "Unified Grid Maintenance/Operation Solution" shall enable the holistic integration and structuring of all work processes including online operation, asset management, work scheduling, and on-site work by the technicians. In addition, utilizing artificial intelligence can revolutionize the planning processes and also significantly increase the staff satisfaction.

Realizing grid maintenance coordination with all departments, and specially the grid online operation, is a task that grows exponentially as the utility grid grows and the field crew grow organically.

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What is WFM 4.0?

When we talk about Industry 4.0, there are two words heard the most “Digital” and ”Smart”.

WFM 4.0 is all about using digital channels and tools in combination with smart systems, to optimize for increase the efficiency and productivity, and reduce the costs of the utility as an enterprise, by better management of the grid operation and maintenance.

There are three main areas of optimization, when it come s to grid maintenance work and dealing with asset management, filed force management and grid operation:

1-     Work Strategy: Capacity planning

2-     Maintenance Operation: Crew dispatching

3-     Real time Operation: Grid and switching

Work Strategy: Capacity Planning

There are major capacity optimization methods for the capacity planning including work grouping, annual scheduling of switching operations, analysis of bottlenecks, assessment of projects, and purchasing optimization.

Several factors affect the capacity planning:

·      The extent of scheduled work

·      Work volume

·      Crew presences and absences

·      Rules

Capacity planning optimization shall be done based on:

  • Available capacities for different type of work: routine, inspection, major maintenance, etc.
  • Finding missing capacities
  • Utilizing subcontractors and outsourcing
  • Operation over week/month/year
  • Prioritizing various order categories
  • Considering accumulated hours

The main KPI here can be the utilization rate of the crew and total capacities.

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The result can be cost reduction due to error avoidance, long-term planning, transparency, and reduction of switching operations.

Maintenance Operation: Crew dispatching

Automated dispatching of crew can help in standardization of decisions, planning stability for monthly periods, consideration of daily changes, and providing answers at the push of a button.

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The result can be cost reduction due to

•      Simplified work preparation

•      Reduced planning cost

•      Integration of planned outage requests

Real time Operation: Grid and switching management

Seamless integration with grid management and grid control center provides process operation support within the same media and digital channel, comprehensive switching information, and realtime acquisition of switching states at both control center and filed crew mobile system. as well as insuring crew safety, and grid stability.

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The result of such full coordination and integration will be cost reduction due to secure switching operations without time-intensive switching coordination, no idle times on site, less involvement of control center operator, and lower risk of cancellations of third-party companies, as well as insuring crew safety, and grid stability.

Seamless integration with grid management and grid control center provides process operation support within the same media and digital channel

A fully mobilized process

Full integration of mobile applications into the work including all process life cycle from order to reporting increases the efficiency of the process, reduces costs and risks, and increases the level satisfaction for the crew, utility and customers.

For the order processing, all interaction from maintenance work order up to switching, orders from control center and final documentation can be processed central and remotely at he field location by the crew mobile device.

These include:

•      Switching operations without direct involvement of the control center operator, but fully supervised by the system itself.

•      Latest switching states updating

•      Fully digital switching coordination (instead of using phone, paper forms, etc.)

•      Interlock checks in the central control system

•      Realtime acquisition of switching states

•      Switching as a team (remote field crew at different location + control center)

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The mobile application also provides the possibility of integration of maintenance material ordering processes, including

•      Stock shifting

•      Material booking

•      Early withdrawal

Full integration of mobile applications increases the efficiency of the process, reduces costs and risks, and increases the level satisfaction for the crew, utility and customers.

Summary of Unified Grid Maintenance/Operation Solution Benefits

·      Standardized decisions and information distribution based on structured predefined processes

·      Central availability of all information

·      Optimized process support with seamless media

·      Direct information exchange with third party systems

·      Automatic determination of responsibilities

·      Dispatching support with checks and dynamic team assignment

·      Automated analysis and notifications

·      Ensuring compliance of legal and regulatory requirements

·      IT security by ISMS-certified installation

 

Siavash Jamal's picture

Thank Siavash for the Post!

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Discussions

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 9, 2020 5:22 pm GMT

This is a terrifically valuable post, Siavash-- thanks so much for the time and effort that obviously went into it. 

When discussing WFM 4.0 with leaders at utilities, are they already typically aware of these capabilities? Or do you find you have to play teacher and explain the how and why behind them? I guess the reason for asking is really-- is the lack of further integration of this technology due to a need for education/awareness, or are there financial/strategic barriers to overcome? 

Siavash Jamal's picture
Siavash Jamal on Jan 10, 2020 1:57 pm GMT

Thanks Matt. Such integration and automation makes sense, when you are talking to a utulity of right size. And yes, it needs education. Currently utilties have ERP system, which has some sort of integration, but mostly general and not specific to utility needs, and/or we have silos of different applications with poor integration, or even manual file transfer. What this post is suggesting, is integration from maintenence point of view which is rare, and ratherly a new idea, based on integrated, secure digital channels specially with real time grid control center. Generally it is based on IT/OT integration trend, and upgrades field force management to the level of other fast moving grid management and asset management technologies.

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