ADMS in practice: The real results of a promising technology

Schneider Electric outlines how advanced distribution management lives up to its promises.
Published: Fri 21 Oct 2016

Many of today’s utilities face similar challenges. Take Enel, Italy’s distribution system operator with 33 million electrical customers. Their challenges include not only meeting growing energy demand with their aging electric networks, but also the responsibility for reducing carbon emissions, dealing with more frequent severe weather patterns and the outages they cause, and integrating intermittent and distributed sources of renewable energy.

Proponents of Advanced Distribution Management Systems (ADMS) are touting the many benefits they claim ADMS delivers. But can these new systems really address many of the issues faced by the electric power industry? Let’s look at how ADMS can and does function in the real world, with references to how Enel leverages some aspects of this technology.

ADMS at a glance

ADMS is an efficient and optimal solution for electrical utilities, providing network monitoring, management and control, operation, analysis, optimization, maintenance and long term planning. It is a unique, highly secure system, based on a reliable, forward-thinking, service-oriented architecture, utilizing unique symbols, a user interface, and database for all the various electrical tasks that a utility might perform.

The contribution of ADMS to minimizing carbon footprint

While reducing energy losses using an exceptional ADMS Optimization module, not only does a utility rely less on carbon sources of energy generation, but decreases power demand during peak hours, and consequently, minimizes the extremely high costs of operation of peak production units, such as a gas- or diesel-fired  generators.


ADMS provides direct and indirect tools to optimize existing network resources and operation and to indirectly decrease energy production and CO2 emission. Enel runs the ADMS Optimal Network Reconfiguration function to minimize losses, suggest a list of open/close switching operations to be performed on the switches along MV feeders. Further, loss reductions lead to a huge reduction of fuel, and consequently of CO2 emissions. Such an approach leads Enel to streamlined energy production and decreased CO2 emissions, with a steady gain of about 4% year round. This equates to a substantial reduction in fuel and CO2 emissions, with an estimated savings of about 144 GWh of energy per year, and a corresponding 75,000t CO2 per year.

Reducing the impact of outages and boosting reliability with ADMS

Traditional, manual outage management is time consuming, costly, not reliable, risky, and last but not least, not compliant with the latest smart grid requirements, where a continuous and high-quality energy supply is a must.


ADMS provides an Outage Management module which addresses planned and unplanned outages in an optimal way and offers additional solutions for restoring the energy supply. It helps by first finding the outage location, isolating it, and restoring power to non-isolated sections of the network while field crews work on the isolated sections. It helps minimize the impact of a storm by more quickly identifying damaged locations, reconfiguring the network in a manner that minimizes affected customers, and providing the optimized dispatching of crews.

What ADMS does for planning, operation and maintenance

Seeing is believing. Situational awareness and timely planning of future actions in the grid are essential factors for network planning, forecasting and maintenance.


Regarding operations and planning, ADMS provides strong insight into the network as a whole, and identifies bottlenecks. It gives utilities comprehensive, real-time situational awareness and visualization of their grid.

At Enel specifically, ADMS gives them more accurate data and a system that can predict the impact of power outages, generation and voltage variation. This lets them achieve significant energy and cost savings through the optimization of their existing network resources and operations.

Further, operators can use ADMS to test before performing operations, to check what would happen as a result of a particular action. This operations planning feature is extremely useful for preparing upcoming maintenance plans.

ADMS incorporates near-term forecasting of the network’s future state in 15 minutes and up to 24 hours. It predicts what will likely occur in the network so that operators can better accommodate coming events and provide more reliable network management. That includes the analysis of how renewable sources like wind and solar will influence the state of the network in the near future, taking into account weather and atmospheric condition forecasts.

For the sake of network planning, simulation sessions in ADMS can analyze existing renewable sources alongside those that utilities might have in mind for future network development. That gives planners a picture of how their networks would look and operate, and how they can develop efficiency improvements. This helps utilities reduce their capital investments by getting the most out of their existing network assets and lowering the need for additional generation, as well as help meet energy savings goals targeted by legislation and regulatory bodies.

Like Enel, utilities around the world introduce ADMS in order to solve technical issues, deliver real-time monitoring and control with accurate data, analyze and optimize network operations and resources for significant cost savings, predict the impact of power outages, generation, and voltage variation, minimize losses, maximize efficiency, and reduce environmental impacts.