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Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network

This is another post in the series of articles that SSP is publishing with the goal of informing and educating our readers on technical aspects of the new Utility Network from Esri. In this article I will demonstrate how to extend your network to supply electric power to some premises. Along the exercise of adding new services I will bring to your attention three key concepts introduced by the Utility Network: connectivity, attachment, and containment.

Please, Fasten Your Seatbelts ...

If you are new to Esri Utility Network, and need a thorough introduction, please consult the many articles SSP has published in this area. I recommend that you start with Brian Higgin's Cliff'sNotes, as it contains a quick reference to more in-depth articles. Then, dive into each of those topics, and any new ones published since. If you do not have time for "immersion"... just relax and enjoy the show. I assure you that by the end of this reading you will learn a few tricks about Utility Network. Are you ready? Let's go...

Adding New Services to Your Network

The scenario is familiar... Electric Utility NRGy needs to provide service to a few homes recently built in some neighborhood. The new owners, in association, have requested that no power lines are strung over their back yards; so, underground service will be provided. Joe Queen, NRGy engineer, gets assigned this work order. During on-site inspection, he realizes that the primary back-bone for the subdivision has already been constructed; supported by a series of poles erected along the back of the lots. Also, a 3-phase transformer bank is found on top of the last pole, at the end of the primary line. the transformer is already supplying power to a couple of shops at the entrance of the subdivision. Joe takes some notes where he writes down the pole identifier: Asset ID 4571, and heads back to the office to start the design.

At his desk, Mr. Queen starts a new project in ArcGIS Pro. (Of course... NRGy IT team has already granted him an ArcGIS On Line license, and also credentials to a local Portal for ArcGIS which supports access to Utility Network ... But, I am drifting on a tangent...) Mr. Queen opens his working map, and:

  1. Creates a new version to work on.
  2. Finds the work area around the pole using the Select By Attribute tool of the MAP tab.
  3. Adding clause: AssetID = 4571, and clicking Run.
UN EA New Services - Search for Pole 4571 Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network
After the pole is found, Joe (he said we do not need to be so formal...) clicks the "Selected Features: 1" box that appears in the lower right side of the map, and zooms to a working scale of 1:1,600. The map of the neighborhood shows up with the back-bone primary, and the selected pole at the end.
UNEA - NewServices - Found Pole 4571 - Annotated Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network

Connectivity Details of the Utility Network

Zooming to the selected pole to a scale of 1:5, Joe examines the arrangement. It shows the pole in the center of the map, and close-by the end of the primary line. The line terminates at a Connection Point (not visible as it is "underneath" the middle fuse). Following we see three fuses, three transformers, and three surge arresters. These Distribution Devices are "aligned" by phase: from left to right A, B, and C, respectively. (Note that this alignment is NOT required by Utility Network. It is just a convenient way to display the devices.) Also, the whole ensemble appears superimposed on top of a large point box symbol representing the Distribution Device Assembly - Transformer Bank, located in this example at the same point as the middle arrester. Completing the map, two more connection points at the lower side of the arrangement are the end points of two overhead secondary lines supplying 3-phase power to the shops.
UNEA - NewServices - found Pole 4571 - Close up - Annotated Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network
Let us pause for a minute, and realize that there is no geometric coincidence among the network elements. In fact, the elements in Utility Network may be, and usually are drawn intentionally apart from each other. This is a "shocking" difference with respect to the Esri Geometric Network many of us are used to working with for current ArcGIS products. In the new model, network elements are related to each other by Topological Connectivity, implemented by Associations.

Relations by Association in the Utility Network

The three types of associations supported by Utility Network participate in the sample arrangement above:
  1. Devices and lines are related by Connectivity Association. This association allows for electric connectivity throughout the network. In the example, there are connectivity associations established among the connection point at the end of the primary line and the three fuses. Then, between each fuse and the highside of its associated transformer. The low side of the three transformers are associated by connectivity to the two lower connection points, and these to their secondary lines. In this way, 3-pahse power is supplied to both shops. Each arrester is connectively associated to each fuse; even though they are drawn "beyond" the low side of the transformers.
  2. Groups of devices, such as transformers and their protective fuses and arresters, are related to their "bank" assembly by Containment Association. The devices are contained within their assembly.
  3. Finally, devices and assemblies are related to non-electric structures by Attachment Association. Here the connection points are attached to pole 4571, creating a relationship between the OH lines "meeting" at the pole. The Transformer Bank assembly is also attached to the pole. (Think of it as "screwed" to the pole.)

We can analyze the associations described above by means of the Modify Associations tool of the Data tab under the Utility Network ribbon. The following snapshots show examples of the three associations.

Connectivity Association

For instance, the A-phase transformer (the one to the left of the arrangement) is connected via its high side to the left fuse.

UNEA - NewServices - A-phase XFR high-side connection - Annotated Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network

The same A-phase transformer is connected via its low side to the two connection points leading the secondaries.

UNEA - NewServices - A-phase XFR low-side connection - Annotation - Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network

The other connectivity associations can be examined in the same way. (Reminder: the dashed lines showing the connectivity in these snapshots do not exist in the map. The associations establish a logical connectivity, and not a geometric connectivity.)

Containment Association

Using the Containment option of the Modify Associations geoprocessing tool, and clicking on the Transformer Bank as the container, the tool shows us its contents. (A subset of the contained devices is shown below.)

UNEA - NewServices - Containment Association - Annotation - Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network

Attachment Association

And, using the Attachment option we can see that the Transformer Bank, and the three connection points at the end of the lines are all attached to the pole.

Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network

I hope these examples clarify such crucial tenets of the Utility Network Model: Relationships by Associations. Now then... It seems that I got off on another tangent... Let us see what Joe is doing...

Adding a New Service to the Utility Network

Joe is well familiarized with the characteristics of the Utility Network, and understands all the topics discussed above. In fact, he participated in one of the Utility Network Jumpstart sessions offered by SSP. In that session, he learned to edit the network using the tools and templates provided by Esri within the OOTB Utility Network Framework. Furthermore, he also learned about Productivity Tools developed by SSP, which make it easy to work with the Utility Network. The SSP instructor explained how Esri will rely on its Partners, such as SSP, to develop productivity tools that streamline the Utility Network editing and overall management processes.

Back to Joe's work, he is about to draw an underground service to one of the new premises. Because he is also taking this opportunity to show a colleague from NRGy what he learned at the UNJ, he chooses OOTB tools and templates for this job. Another day he will teach his coworkers about productivity tools during a brown bag session. (Stay tuned...)

While taking notes on-site, Joe put together some red-lines to remind him about the details of the job.

UNEA - NewServices - Premise back yard - Annotation - Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network

With those sketches as a reference, he plans to:

  1. Connect with a 3-phase Secondary OH to the low sides of the three transformers.
  2. String the 3-phase Secondary OH a few feet below the Primary OH, attaching to each pole up through the back-bone. Bring neutral with it in a Wey configuration.
  3. Tap the C-phase of the Secondary, and bring live and neutral to the ground via a Raiser.
  4. Have a trench dug along the property line in the direction of the first house.
  5. Lay down a conduit to be buried in the trench.
  6. Thread a single-phase plus neutral Secondary UG through the conduit.
  7. Connect a Service at the end, by the side of the house.

Connecting Secondary OH to the Low Side of the Transformers

At about a scale of 1:3, Joe zooms back on the Transformer Bank. For clarity, he also deselects the Transformer Bank layer from the map Contents; making it invisible. Then, he uses the Create Features tool within the Features group of the Edit tab, and enters the string "connection" in the filter in search of Connection Point - ABC. Hovering over the map, he places the connection point a few "feet" away from the banked devices. An asset ID of 19281 is assigned to this connection point.

UNEA - NewServices - Connection Point - ABC - Annotation - Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network

Note how edits to the Utility Network, when configured for visibility, show within a (purple) dirty area. More on dirty areas in a minute...

Reactivating the Modify Associations tool, Joe chooses Connectivity, and selects one of the transformers (the C-phase in the figure below) as the "from" junction in the association. Toggling the transformer's Terminal to Low, the tool displays the connection points already associated to the low side of the transformer, and allows to select another "to" junction by hovering over the new Connection Point - ABC.

UNEA - NewServices - Connection Point - ABC - Connectivity Association - Annotation - Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network

After clicking the connection point, it appears in the list of connected junctions, with an asterisk (*) following its Asset ID indicating that in order to complete the connection process the Apply button needs to be clicked.

UNEA - NewServices - Connection Point - ABC - Connectivity Association - Apply - Annotated - Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network

When Joe applies the connectivity, the new Connection Point - ABC gets finally connected to the low side terminal of the C-phase transformer, and a new dirty area encompassing both network elements appears in the map.

UNEA - NewServices - Connection Point - ABC - Connectivity Association - Connected - Annotation - Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network

Joe repeats this Connectivity Association with the low side terminals of the other two transformers.

UNEA - NewServices - Connection Point - ABC - Connectivity Association - Connected 3-Phase - Annotated - Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network

Once connected to the three terminals, Joe runs the Validate tool of the Network Topology group under the Data tab of the Utility Network ribbon. When validation is successful, the dirty areas disappear; otherwise, graphic and verbal errors appear on the screen.

The Connection Point - ABC just added is the start point of a 3-phase Secondary OH Line that Joe runs parallel to the primary up the back-bone. Joe is also careful to insert a junction in the secondary line as he passes each pole up the back lots.

UNEA - NewServices - Secondary OH - Annotation - Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network

At these junctions, Joe places connection points (ABC), which will serve to attach the secondary to the pole structures. (See how Joe attaches the secondary line to the poles below.)

UNEA - NewServices - Secondary OH - Connection Points - Annotation - Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network

Attaching Secondary OH Line to Poles

Again with the Modify Association tool, Joe chooses this time the Attachment mode. He selects a pole at a time, and adds as an attachment the new connection point placed nearby in the section above.

UNEA - NewServices - Secondary OH - Connection Points - Attachment - Annotation - Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network

Note: Joe has the habit of validating the network often, and saving his edits.

Tapping the Line and Bringing Power to Underground

Joe places a Distribution Junction Feature, of the Riser Asset Group, and snaps to the secondary overhead line. The riser acts as a C-Tap, and the snapping ensures that its C-phase is connected to the C-phase of the secondary overhead line. The riser brings the C-phase to underground. The riser is also attached to the nearby pole.

UNEA - NewServices - C-phase Riser - Annotation - Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network

Underground Construction

Joe "digs" a trench from the riser all the way to the house following the property line. A trench is a Structure Line Feature of the Asset Group Trench. Within the trench, he buries a Duct; also a Structure Line Feature. And, through the duct, he passes a C-phase secondary underground line, with its neutral. The secondary is associated by attachment to the duct, and connected to a Service Point installed on the side of the house. The map looks as in the figure below.

UNEA - NewServices - Underground Construction - Annotation - Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network

Verifying Associations

Once the layout is completed, Joe verifies that the new service is connected to the network. In its simplest form, Joe uses the Trace Locations tool of the Tools group under the Data tab of the Utility Network ribbon to place a trace Starting Point at the beginning of the primary overhead back-bone. (This point becomes symbolized as the green dot on the upper-center part of the map.) Then, using the Downstream Trace tool, and selecting to include Containers and Structures, its execution captures (and selects) all downstream electric features, as well as their associated containers and structural attachments.

UNEA - NewServices - Trace with Containers and Attachments - Annotation - Esri Utility Network - Adding New Services to Your Network

Conclusion: Adding New Services to Your Network

Clearly, Joe is not done with his subdivision design. He still has quite a bit of work to do so that his design contains services to all the new homes. He will use the current C-phase tap to provide power to the neighbor closest to the first service; reusing the duct, and sharing the trench. He will probably tap from phases A and B to supply power to the next six houses. In those cases he may choose to place an underground cabinet within a vault, through which the underground equipment can be connected and redirected. In this case the cabinet will contain part of the equipment; the cabinet being attached to the vault.

In essence, the fundamental concept laying the foundation of the Utility Network, Associations, is explained in this article. Esri abandons the strict constrains of geometric coincidence that supports the current Geometric Network, and embraces a geometrically free model. With the Utility Network Connectivity through the Domain Network, Containment of devices within Assemblies, and Attachment of equipment to Network Structures is accomplished by means of Topological Connectivity, implemented by Associations.

I hope that you have found this article of interest, and that you have learned a couple of things or two from it. I, like my other SSP colleagues, definitely find the concept of the Utility Network fascinating, and we love to share with you the technical details of the new model. Please, write back with questions, concerns, and any feedback that may help our GIS community get up to speed with Esri's Utility Network.


Author Information

  • Joaquin Madrid

    Joaquin Madrid

    Joaquin Madrid comes to SSP from having worked in the GIS and Smart Grid fields for the last 12 years, and specializes in Electric Utilities systems integration. In this role, Joaquin manages the technical direction for SSP implementation’s team and provide leadership in the adaptation of new technologies for the long-term future growth of SSP Innovations.

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