Smartgrid or Triage – Where are the quick wins?


By Paul Richardson – Director of Engineering

It is hard to avoid the word ‘Smartgrid’ when reading articles about power networks. There is certainly no shortage of equipment which can benefit asset owners and system operators. It does appear however, that sometimes we risk missing the obvious quick wins for improving reliability and increasing utilisation in our pursuit of the latest smart initiative.

There are no end of clever ‘bits of kit’ that can make improvements to our networks; yet, when I turn up at the Emergency Room, I want the Doctor to check my blood pressure rather than offer me advice on moisturiser. Across the developed world, networks are operating beyond their original design life. What we need is a system of Triage that assesses the network on a global scale and can identify, categorise and prioritise the risks to network health.

When we have networks where every second pole is leaning at 20 degrees, we need to focus on these quick wins and major risks to reliability; finding a rapid and cost effective way of bringing these items back into code compliance. What is needed is a holistic method to consider and prioritise asset data on a network level, flagging areas of concern and enabling reporting to assist decision making.

Such a system would allow for effective planning of maintenance activities. For example, increasing tension in a span is an effective way of resolving a clearance concern, but if this is done while there is a defective crossarm the improvements to reliability may be compromised. Better that all maintenance, clearance and vegetation issues can be grouped for a particular feeder, so all non-conformances associated with that feeder can be considered.

So what does our ‘Triage’ system look like? Well that is the million dollar question. Certainly 3D asset management systems provide a method of visualising asset data and bringing together the results. As well as displaying live asset data within the 3D environment they ensure easy access to the important information. As an example, some non-conformances may require asset replacement, some may require repair and some may require monitoring; or simply flagging as ‘known defect – no action required’.


2-dimensons or 3-dimensions? However the data is displayed, better decision making will need to consider the network holistically

To work, our metaphorical Triage system must allow the assessment of asset health at a truly network level, with required fixes prioritised and grouped to ensure maximum advantage is taken of outage windows to resolve reliability concerns and/or maximise utilisation.

Find out more about our 3D asset management systems.