Substation Automation

Yesteryears substations with electro mechanical relays were designed to just deliver one functionality - provide protective relaying to safeguard the electrical infrastructure. While they excelled in doing that, they often left the operators back in control room guessing on what exactly was happening on the electrical grid and offered little or no insight on impending problems. That scenario stands changed with the modern Intelligent Electronic Devices (IEDs), a collective term used to describe various substation devices that are equipped with remote communication capabilities. With their digital signal processing capability, these IEDs are a storehouse of vast amounts of raw and derived data that can play a vital role in enhancing the reliability of electrical grid. These IED's form the building blocks of the smart grid while they continue to perform their core protective and metering functions.

Modern substations are fast becoming a part of utility's mission critical enterprise network with IED relays, meters and communication servers directly communicating with back office SCADA servers in real time. They offer unprecedented visibility into both 'operational' as well as 'non-operational' data. A well designed substation automation system should function as a seamless part of the mission critical utility network facilitating the evolution of Smart grid.

APA with its vast experience deploying multivendor substation Automation systems provides the following services.

Prepare Technology Roadmap: Several strategies can be adopted depending on the vintage and type of equipment currently in service at substations. While a ground up design may be suitable for new substations it may not best serve an utility that has predominantly older style electro mechanical or even static (no remote communication) type relays in service. Our past experience has shown that delivering a cost effective solution to our client often requires a tailored plan that matches the existing infrastructure, cost burden, operational constraints as well as cost benefit ratios. APA has vast experience in this arena in delivering elegant solutions no matter what state your existing legacy infrastructure is in.

Business Case Evaluations: While some cases are mostly straight forward, we come across many cases where it may be necessary to perform a more detailed analysis to study the cost benefit ratios closely so that wise and informed decisions can be made. A detailed business case study in many cases allows to fine tune or defer the implementation over time easing the cash flows without significantly impacting the benefits that can be derived with limited investments.

Conceptual Design: This critical step allows stake holders with various levels of SCADA awareness to start participating in the design and selection of SCADA platform, understand how it will benefit them in improving their productivity in their job. This process allows the stake holders to understand the subtle nuances of capabilities and helps sets expectations from the new SCADA platform at a pace comfortable to them. This eventually leads to creation of a well-rounded formal "Request For Proposals" with contributions from all stake holders ensuring future proofed system definition to initiate procurement.

Procurement Process: APA typically works hand in hand to guide the process of procurement from RFP creation, review and assist in issuing to vendors. APA's streamlined process ensures that the key client personnel are aware of various steps required to evaluate, shortlist and select the right vendor and product.

Detailed Design and Implementation: APA's core strength is in assisting its client to prepare for implementation while working with their subject matter experts in evolving the detailed design, preparing key component procurement specifications.

Typically APA will provide the following services during implementation phase:

  • Prepare detailed cutover plans for hardware and software systems.
  • Coordinated implementation of substation communications server and its databases.
  • Seamless integration between local substation network (LAN) and  utility wide area communication network (WAN)
  • On site system integration, testing and troubleshooting
  • Formal System Acceptance Testing (SAT)
  • Coordinate training requirements.
  • Assist utility personnel in gaining familiarity with newly installed system.