Reliance Infrastructure Powers Distribution Monitoring Through GIS
GIS provides a single-window view of the entire electricity distribution network in Mumbai and Delhi.
According to a recent ASSOCHAM study, India can overcome its power shortage problem if only 50 percent of its transmission and distribution losses are reduced by stoppage of theft and up-gradation of distribution systems. As per a CII–KPMG report released recently (November 2008), India is already facing shortage of 20,000 megawatts of power, which is further accentuated by the issue of power theft.
The high-powered taskforce appointed by the central government a few years back headed by Nandan Nilekani to recommend the role of IT in the power sector had explicitly defined the role of IT in commercial distribution processes and in improving the quality of supply in selected high revenue areas.
In a bid to avoid various issues like power theft, poor distribution, complexity in network planning etc, Reliance Infrastructure has implemented a comprehensive Geographic Information System (GIS) suite from ESRI. The solutions in this suite provide a single-window view of the entire electric distribution network spread across 1,400 sq kms in Mumbai and Delhi. To improve efficiency while serving its four million customers, the utility chose to implement Miner & Miner's ArcFM solution, based on ESRI's ArcGIS software, for their Mumbai and Delhi Electric Distribution System. Today, more than 1,500 Reliance users access utility network data through ArcIMS technology, thus, leveraging anywhere, anytime connectivity.
Scattered Assets Prompted Need For Integrated GIS Solution
"Reliance Infrastructure operates in the space of electricity generation, transmission and distribution with assets, worksites, customers and offices spread across various locations. This dispersed nature of operations gives rise to several complexities," said Prashun Dutta, senior executive VP (IT and Quality), Reliance Infrastructure.
The physical location and associated complexities always influence how work is carried out. For example, even a small event of extending the cable to accommodate a new connection demands an end-to-end view as to which is the nearest junction and from where a connection can be extended, whether adequate capacity exists, what is the length of the cable, what are the physical obstructions in pulling the cable, how do we extend the cable to its destination, etc. A moment's reflection will reveal that these physical conditions will influence the choice of workmen including their numbers, the material requirement, the tools required etc.
GIS Provides Comprehensive View of Scattered Assets
GIS is helping Reliance Infrastructure to map its complete electricity network by aiding synchronisation of different technologies to work as one system. It combines computer hardware, software, and data to create a tool for capturing, managing, analysing, and displaying all forms of geographic information including low voltage system and customer delivery points.
GIS captures information in various layers and represents it in the form of a map. These layers correspond to the distribution network, land base detailing including roads, landmarks, buildings, rivers, railway crossings etc. Going further, it also maintains information on the equipment viz. underground cables, conductors, transformers, towers etc. "Most of the electrical network components/ equipment have/ has a geographical location and the full benefit of any network improvement can be realised only if the work is carried out keeping the geographical context in mind," said Dutta.
Post the GIS implementation, planning and execution of fieldwork is done from a central location. Reliance Infrastructure processes that have been augmented by use of the GIS include locating faults in the network, network planning including extension of the network, operations and control of the network deriving from an integration of the SCADA and GIS, and streetlight planning and maintenance.
The deployment was carried out in phases that involved capturing the legacy data and conversion of old Single Line Diagrams (SLDs). This exercise involved mapping the business processes to IT/ GIS processes that helped the core team in developing the tools to meet user requirements. Quite a few of the activities mandatory for the GIS roll out were decentralised so as to reduce dependency on the core team. Other steps taken prior top the GIS roll out involved the creation of a common website for all users and integration of GIS with SAP, SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition system), CYME (power engineering software) and various other technologies.
Reliance Infrastructure leveraged the experience of Reliance Communications for the deployment as the latter has already implemented GIS.
Challenge Of Storing Archived Data
One of the challenges was to make place for the historical data and not to mention the new data that was constantly being added due to the dynamic changes on the field. To be able to do this, an initial survey was carried out for the entire distribution network. Though the primary satellite images were already with the company, the survey was conducted to gather accurate details of the land base that constantly kept changing. Post the survey, the problem arose of storing the voluminous data and maintaining consistency of the same. Apart from these field problems, Reliance Infrastructure is a 75-year-old company, so naturally there was major internal resistance to the drastic technological change that the GIS brought forth.
Scores of Benefits
The GIS implementation has made it easy even for a new network engineer at the company to understand the network on a division/ district basis, thus reducing the dependency on the fuseman or lineman. Moreover, GIS maps the network on a feeder-wise basis (feeder is a circuit that carries a large block of power from the service equipment to a sub-feeder panel at which the block power is broken into smaller circuits). As a result, just by clicking the consumer location in the GIS map, the network engineer is able to find its complete feeding path including its feeder identity, feeding substation, specific switch in that substation and cables/ conductor connected to that consumer. This functionality is helping Reliance Infrastructure to easily trace affected consumers in cases of planned and unplanned outages and load shedding.
The GIS also pinpoints underground cable faults that occur due to the damage to the cable by external authorities while carrying out road excavation work. GIS helps the crew working on the field to locate the fault in the defective feeder section (cable) within a shorter time. In most cases, cable faults are not visible as the cables are placed underground.
GIS Energy Loss Mapping solution has helped Reliance Infrastructure to identify suspicious/ loss areas. This problem could arise due to the overlapping of different feeder distribution networks. This energy accounting information along with the service point (Customer Delivery Point) meter tampering data on top of the GIS map has facilitated the detection of probable area/ service points of pilferage.
The energy audit report presented in GIS displays the network loss in percentage and units on GIS background. The application provides a proper mechanism to draw a boundary of the network for which the loss is calculated. Thus, loss calculated at a particular point in the network can be aggregated to the particular area or cluster (viz. industrial, commercial or residential) and can prompt the Energy Audit department to take specific actions like identification of unauthorised connections/ removal of pilferage etc.
Sales/ Business heads within Reliance Infrastructure are leveraging the GIS to get a geographical analysis of revenue realisation for better understanding of loss and profit areas. The GIS 'monthly revenue change' analysis gives area-wise change in sales revenue as compared to previous month sales. This helps them to focus on particular areas for improving collection efficiency and minimising pilferage.
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