PowerStream – digitalization improves operational efficiency

PowerStream runs OSIsoft’s PI System for electronic tracking of assets and maintenance.
Published: Thu 10 Nov 2016

Asset and maintenance management is proving to be a key area that is being impacted by the digitalization of the energy sector. [Engerati-In Focus Digital Transformation in the Energy Sector] It is not difficult to understand why: the ability to install low cost sensors for remote monitoring and to draw back the data to the utility operations centre for analysis opens the way for (near) real-time detection of equipment and system related problems and opportunities such as enabling of condition based maintenance. Benefits include potentially significant savings on monitoring and maintenance activities, a reduction of unplanned outages along with the resultant improved customer satisfaction.

While the prospect of digitalizing asset management may appear daunting, given the integration of such operational requirements with other company IT systems, they needn’t be – as North America’s second largest municipally owned utility PowerStream has experienced in its deployment.

Achieving operational efficiency

Vince Polsoni, Station Sustainment Manager at PowerStream, explains that the opportunity arose to “gain synergies and consolidate and modernize maintenance practices” following a utility merger. “PowerStream wanted to move away from paper based to electronic asset and maintenance tracking,” he says. “The goal was to enable us to improve reliability by performing the right maintenance at the right time with the right resources.”

To enable this risk-based condition-based maintenance model, PowerStream selected OSIsoft’s PI System as part of the implementation of a new Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). The PI System is an optimized platform for real-time data management and was provided with simple tools and onsite, offsite, web and YouTube training and support.

“The PI System interfaces with the CMMS and was justified as part of CMMS system implementation,” says Polsoni.

The system is interfaced via the PI DNP3 interface to PowerStream’s SCADA system, where first line monitoring takes place. Assets that are now being monitored include most substation equipment, i.e. transformers, circuit breakers, DC systems, capacitor banks, primary disconnect switches, reclosers, remote terminal units, etc. Conditions include transformer load, oil temperatures, protection relay health, feeder status, station building temperature, oil containment systems, sump water levels, etc., and operations, open/close statuses, alarms and counts are captured.

Features of the PI System that PowerStream uses include PI AF (Asset Framework) – which includes PI Notifications and use of PI AF templates, Analysis and Event Frames – PI Coresight, PI ProcessBook, PI interfaces for  DNP3, UFL, HTML,RDBMS and PI Integrator for ESRI ArcGIS.

“Initially we started off not using PI AF but we soon realized that it was key to having a top performing optimal system,” says Polsoni. He adds that the PI System architecture is now being upgraded to enable ‘High Availability’. “Originally when installed in 2012 the system was built for 3,500 tags but we have expanded to 30,000 tags and growing. The original infrastructure was not designed for High Availability.”  

Benefits of digital

Polsoni describes the PI System as the “enabler” of the migration from time-based to true condition-based maintenance.

“Interfacing the PI System to the CMMS allows real-time data and condition data to be used as part of the triggering of maintenance tasks in the CMMS. Algorithms are written in either or both systems that utilize condition data coming from the SCADA system.”

He says the PI System has increased equipment awareness to all operations, field and engineering staff. Dashboard reports have been prepared to share equipment condition to all interested parties. Availability and Risk Indexes has been created that show risk. Outage reports and notifications have also been created to publish information on outages.

“These reports are most beneficial when a large outage occurs due to inclement weather such as an ice storm.”

Looking ahead, Polsoni says that PowerStream is always looking at how it can further leverage the PI System. The latest developments have included installation of the PI Integrator for ESRI ArcGIS, which combines time series data on real time maps, and the use of Event Frames, which allows storage and retrieval of specific events. The intention is to further explore and develop expertise in these areas. The use of the system is also being expanded with the incorporation of some distribution system equipment.

In conclusion for utilities looking to install the PI System, Polsoni advises a systematic approach such as PowerStream followed. "We approached the use of PI System with the idea of trying it out before fully immersing ourselves. We selected the easiest tools first, then expanded as we gained knowledge and traction. My suggestion is to develop the system systematically. Focus on PI AF and build from there.”

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