Smart Grid

Integration is key in smart utility operation

I posted earlier about utilities experiencing a convergence of Operations Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) that is bringing together applications and devices in new ways and tying together systems that have primarily operated in isolation.

As one example, new substation gateway technology can collect high volumes of data reliably from both proprietary and standard communications devices in the field. This data can be analyzed and parsed to yield valuable insights that would, otherwise, be challenging to extract. Feeding key real-time data to the outage management system (OMS) allows outage prediction and better restoration and switching than can be achieved when relying on calls through a call center.

Integrating the distribution operations applications themselves into a single platform has shown to significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of network control. When an emergency switching operation is necessary, the operator does not have to separately monitor the distribution SCADA for alarms and network parameters, the DMS for a switching option for restoration, and the OMS to identify the likely source of outage. Integrating these systems into an Advanced DMS (ADMS) creates a unified platform that effectively utilizes the network model for automation and control as well as increases available information.

This convergence of OT and IT is not science fiction; it’s an evolution toward Smart Grid implementation that is happening worldwide, even as you read this post – and it is demonstrating it can improve grid operations performance. Watch for more on the higher-level grid integration needed to realize IT/OT convergence benefits.

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