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Bentley Technology Applied in Innovative Projects to Address the Challenges of Aging T&D Infrastructure

MediaInfoline December 6, 2017

Faced with aging transmission and distribution infrastructure and limited O&M budgets, utilities strive to maximize the lifespan of their current equipment by making optimal decisions on infrastructure replacement and maintenance while reducing costs and improving customer service. Here are three examples of how Bentley solutions addressed the unique and daunting challenges of aging T&D infrastructure.

Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL) began to collect substation indicator data in AssetWise for critical assets in 2011. In response to several publicly noticeable manhole events, IPL also began collecting data for the downtown underground network distribution system for indicators for manholes, vaults, network transformers, and network protectors. The goal was to use data to reduce the number of substation failures, improve proactive maintenance practices, and minimize the number of incidents in the downtown network system. Additionally, IPL wanted to improve the overall efficiency of the inspections and create an objective scoring method for asset health, criticality, risk, and follow-up work order priorities.

Business logic was built in to step the inspector through the inspection process to ensure a complete and thorough inspection. A calculated indicator was configured to take the inspection data and calculate an overall health score for that asset. Management and field personnel were kept fully informed via automatic notifications of the health and status of critical assets and maintenance programs through an internal website.

The sophistication of the inspection process (20,000 assets), automation of the data (300,000 indicators), and prioritization and follow-up work processes resulted in proactive maintenance practices that have reduced the number of equipment failures in the downtown network from 49 in 2011 to 15 in 2016. Similarly, substation transformer failures have been reduced to 0.2 percent, and the number of circuit breakers failing to close/open is trending down.

Energex determined via a condition-based risk management analysis that the 57-year-old Zillmere substation in Brisbane, Australia needed refurbishment. Existing in-service equipment had deteriorated requiring excessive maintenance on some of the 33-kilovolt circuit breakers and isolators. Aurecon was engaged to undertake the primary design for equipment that had reached retirement age – including the replacement of 5 x 33 kilovolt outdoor circuit breakers (including the foundations), the replacement of 6 x 33 kilovolt bus disconnectors (including the supporting structures), lightning masts, the replacement of the AC board, and installation of a new marshalling box for cutover of existing circuit breaker control circuits in the switchyard.

Aurecon completed the designs in Bentley Substation so Energex would get the benefit of accurate drawings and bills of materials and to ensure that the design integrated with any existing substation equipment not earmarked for replacement. Aurecon used LiDAR to scan the target area of the substation to develop an as-built 3D rendered representation. This model was brought into Bentley Substation and subsequently into their virtual reality facility in Cape Town, South Africa, enabling Aurecon to do a follow-up virtual site visit, walking through the substation and discussing the site, close to 12,000 kilometers away from Brisbane.

This strategy provided significant insight into how to approach the integration of the new equipment into the substation and ensure new and replacement equipment was designed and fabricated to work with existing equipment. The model was shared with civil services to design the plinths for the substation equipment footings. All the services models were incorporated into one design model and the project was registered in ProjectWise. Weekly meetings were held between South Africa- and Australia-based project engineers and project managers.

Riaan Dippenaar, project engineer, Aurecon Cape Town, said, “Bentley Substation allowed us the opportunity to be proactive, accurate, innovative, and collaborative on a common design base between South Africa and Australia with a feeling of accomplishment.”

In Sofia, Bulgaria, infrastructure is managed for the metropolitan region by the Transport Infrastructure Department. A comprehensive inventory of available public lighting facilities for the Transport Infrastructure Department was necessary after an analysis of current street lighting information proved it to be incomplete and insufficient. The inventory focused on the quantity of street lighting and the current condition of the infrastructure. The government also sought to reduce spending public funds on maintenance, improve infrastructure overall, and lessen the duration of repairs.

Sofia Municipality retained DAVID Holding Company to develop a geographic information system (GIS) to oversee and organize the infrastructure. DAVID Holding used Bentley OpenUtilities to manage the street lighting infrastructure and collected condition data. The project team used OpenUtilities’ pre-configured electric data model as the foundation for the customized street lighting data model, which lowered deployment costs and allowed DAVID Holding to meet the project deadline by cutting a significant amount of design time.

OpenUtilities provides a single source of information for Sofia planners, engineers, and operations professionals to understand the current physical state of the public lighting facilities and make better decisions about maintenance, improving customer service processes while reducing operational costs. The GIS also improved budget planning for the municipality. Upgrading the street lighting where needed, making requisite repairs swiftly, and lowering environmental impact will serve to benefit the nearly 1.3 million residents of the expansive Sofia Municipality.

Petya Todorova, senior expert, DAVID holding, said, “Bentley OpenUtilities gave us the freedom to define a complex data model that best fits our needs. Moreover, OpenUtilities technology enables every participant in the management of the infrastructure to use a single source of information, which significantly improves our work.”


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