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Advanced Survey Technologies Deliver Clear View of Geologic Hazards

quantum

Electric utilities commonly use trained foresters, traversing thousands of miles, to manually identify vegetation or other geographic hazards posing risks to transmission infrastructure. For one utility in the Western United States, the challenging terrain and accuracy limitations of laser range finders used to visually identify at-risk trees resulted in 1,424 trees assessed as requiring maintenance, potentially costing $200,000.

 

Months later, surveying the same assets using high-resolution LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) on fixed wing aircraft, the utility determined only 35 trees needed management, including 17 trees not originally identified in the forester’s survey. Ultimately the use of new technology saved the utility more than $150,000 in maintenance fees.

 

LiDAR and other improvements in geological hazard mapping are proven to reduce maintenance costs, minimize outage risks, improve safety of field workers and deliver greater shareholder value.

Read the full article in our digital magazine

Utility Proactively Tests Underground Cable

testing1

Distribution companies are continually looking for ways to improve system reliability, all while conserving capital investments and operational costs. With an aging infrastructure, one of the main issues that utilities face is a way to assess the actual condition of their capital assets.

With respect to underground cables, utilities can achieve enhanced reliability by developing a smarter asset management strategy. Historically, utilities used a reactive-based maintenance approach: when a cable fails, have it replaced. However, with increasing proportions of cables approaching end of life, this method is not sustainable because it consumes a significant portion of the operation and maintenance budget.  Simply put, for most utilities, not enough capital dollars are available to replace all of the aged cables. For this reason, utilities must employ an effective strategy to adopt condition-based maintenance to balance this issue.

Many utilities have switched to condition-based maintenance programs to more efficiently spend their capital budgets. Generally, utilities diagnose the health of a cable based on its age, and they expect cables to last 25 to 30 years. The age of a cable, however, is not always an indication of the cable’s quality.

Read the full article in our digital magazine

CIP Compliance Yields Security Complacency

Lead Image1

As the big push behind NERC CIP v5/v6 comes to some form of “conclusion”, most U.S. utility executives are breathing a huge sigh of relief. Their efforts to make their high and medium impact facilities compliant are finally completing.  However for some insiders, there is a concern that a state of compliance complacency is now manifesting in the U.S.

  • The expectation is that billions of dollars in compliance spending should have realized “enough” improvements in security … “for now”
  • Some larger utilities refute the need to spend any additional money on compliance motivated security improvements.

As a result, the industry is moving slowly to meet the requirements for low impact facilities, systems and assets, consequently it may also be delaying other critical security initiatives.  This will likely have undesired consequences.

Read the full article in our digital magazine

Mission: Critical – The pros and cons of diesel rotary versus static systems

Operator in control room

Mission critical facilities are broadly defined as containing any operation that, if interrupted, will cause a negative impact on business activities, ranging from losing revenue to jeopardizing legal conformity to (in extreme cases) loss of life. Data centers, call centers, hospitals, manufacturing processes and military installations are the more common types of buildings that could be considered mission critical.

 

The role of an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) in these applications is clear; there must be a temporary power bridge to support the load between the loss of utility and the transfer to diesel generator.  The computerized equipment such as server, storage and network devices that run these processes are sensitive to fluctuations in power quality. As a solution, these fluctuations are mitigated with the use of a UPS system.  These UPS systems can be divided into two broad categories based on their method of energy storage:

Read the full article in our digital magazine

Mobile Technology – Allowing utilities to look into the future without abandoning legacy systems

xplore

Utilities are the epitome of field service and of workforce mobilization. They know better than many other industries the burden of paper-based processes and the burgeoning growth opportunities that are possible with a wider adoption of advanced technology systems. Though not perceived as fast innovators, utilities have in fact been long-time accelerators of mobile computer innovation. Believe it or not, the industry has actually been using mobile PC technologies for at least two decades, long before the first iPad came to market in 2010. Electric utilities played arguably the most influential role in the early design and development of the rugged tablet PC form factor that almost every global industry has become reliant on today.  In fact, Sierra Pacific Power Company was confident in the power of mobile computers over 10 years before they gained mass market popularity. The electric utility (now part of NV Energy) was among the first companies worldwide to invest in the truly mobile, field-service ready computers in the late 1990s.

Read the full article in our digital magazine

Vegetation Management

Advanced Survey Technologies Deliver Clear View of Geologic Hazards

quantum

Electric utilities commonly use trained foresters, traversing thousands of miles, to manually identify vegetation or other geographic hazards posing risks to transmission infrastructure. For one utility in the Western United States, the challenging terrain and accuracy limitations of laser range finders used to visually identify at-risk trees resulted in 1,424 trees assessed as requiring maintenance, potentially costing $200,000.

 

Months later, surveying the same assets using high-resolution LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) on fixed wing aircraft, the utility determined only 35 trees needed management, including 17 trees not originally identified in the forester’s survey. Ultimately the use of new technology saved the utility more than $150,000 in maintenance fees.

 

LiDAR and other improvements in geological hazard mapping are proven to reduce maintenance costs, minimize outage risks, improve safety of field workers and deliver greater shareholder value. Read more

Transformer Testing & Maintenance

Utility Proactively Tests Underground Cable

testing1

Distribution companies are continually looking for ways to improve system reliability, all while conserving capital investments and operational costs. With an aging infrastructure, one of the main issues that utilities face is a way to assess the actual condition of their capital assets.

With respect to underground cables, utilities can achieve enhanced reliability by developing a smarter asset management strategy. Historically, utilities used a reactive-based maintenance approach: when a cable fails, have it replaced. However, with increasing proportions of cables approaching end of life, this method is not sustainable because it consumes a significant portion of the operation and maintenance budget.  Simply put, for most utilities, not enough capital dollars are available to replace all of the aged cables. For this reason, utilities must employ an effective strategy to adopt condition-based maintenance to balance this issue.

Many utilities have switched to condition-based maintenance programs to more efficiently spend their capital budgets. Generally, utilities diagnose the health of a cable based on its age, and they expect cables to last 25 to 30 years. The age of a cable, however, is not always an indication of the cable’s quality. Read more

Mobile Computing

Mobile Technology – Allowing utilities to look into the future without abandoning legacy systems

xplore

Utilities are the epitome of field service and of workforce mobilization. They know better than many other industries the burden of paper-based processes and the burgeoning growth opportunities that are possible with a wider adoption of advanced technology systems. Though not perceived as fast innovators, utilities have in fact been long-time accelerators of mobile computer innovation. Believe it or not, the industry has actually been using mobile PC technologies for at least two decades, long before the first iPad came to market in 2010. Electric utilities played arguably the most influential role in the early design and development of the rugged tablet PC form factor that almost every global industry has become reliant on today.  In fact, Sierra Pacific Power Company was confident in the power of mobile computers over 10 years before they gained mass market popularity. The electric utility (now part of NV Energy) was among the first companies worldwide to invest in the truly mobile, field-service ready computers in the late 1990s. Read more

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