Accessing fault and non-SCADA data for substation maintenance
SUBNET Solutions Inc | Wednesday, June 06, 2012
SUBNET recently released a case study titled "Southern Company: Making Fault Data and Non-SCADA Data Accessible for Predictive Analysis in Data Historians," which details how the leading energy company in the Southeast United States adopted a solution to archive non-SCADA data as well as fault file information found in a data historian.
Atlanta-based Southern Company has a service area of 4.4 million customers, with a generating capacity of more than 43,000 megawatts. The company has expanded its business to include electric utilities in four states and uses a growing network of fiber optics and wireless communications. With such a large enterprise, it is crucial for Southern Company to properly analyze power system disruptions, as clearly identifying a root cause of an event allows the company to take the most effective corrective action. This in turn leads to greater grid reliability, safety, profitability and customer satisfaction.
To provide increased protection to a power network, utilities are outfitting their systems with smart relays, which typically contain SCADA data, non-SCADA data and fault files that keep detailed accounts of power disturbances. Utilities can then use this data to understand the primary cause of the disruption. While this can lead to greater operational efficiency, the effort to collect this valuable data can be costly and time-consuming, ultimately affecting utilities' ability to quickly resolve problems on the grid.
What's more, this massive amount of information must be retrieved from intelligent electronic devices from several different relay vendors and product models. To confront the many issues with collecting data, Southern Company enlisted the help of a solution that could centrally archive all non-SCADA data by directly interfacing with the data historian, and could collect fault files through secure automation that would aggregate the data in one location.
Once centrally located, Southern Company's authenticated users hoped to view and analyze the files. By employing the new solution, Southern Company can now perform predictive maintenance, event analysis, load contingency studies, power quality assessments and more.
Beginning in 2003, Southern Company began a years-long project to convert four-wire telecom circuits to digital frame-relay circuits. The new circuits would allow the company to benefit from network connectivity solutions for its substations, which enabled SCADA communications and what the company deemed "engineering access," or the ability to remotely connect to any of its 750 substations and their IEDs to collect data, identify problems and provide updates.
To address the many challenges associated with the substation communication overhaul, Southern Company looked for a solution that could operate alongside its existing substation gateway solution, which ran SUBNET SubSTATION Server. After detailed analysis, the company chose to combine InStep software with SUBNET EnterpriseSERVER.NET software, a combination Southern deemed the Field Data Historian (FDH).
In 2008, the company implemented FDH at 15 substations to collect time series data, while it also was used to transfer event files from SEL relays and digital fault recorders from substation to a file collection server. The data was then sorted and made available for viewing by personnel, while other data was transferred to the data historian.
The pilot program found that within 10 minutes of a system disruption, event files from SEL relays and digital fault recorders had been sent from the substation to the file collection server.
Prior to the installment, substation maintenance was performed by workers who had to travel to various sites and manually access data. By using the new system, Southern Company can remotely collect data in a matter of minutes that can ultimately be used to improve operations across the board.
Substation Automation & Remote Access