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First Experiences with Migrating to Esri’s Utility Network

Foreword by Skye Perry

I invited Jesper and Signe to share their story with our readers after having presented alongside them on the Utility Network at the Esri User Conference this past summer. Their story and goals for the future of the network are very similar to SSP's goals and those of our customers. I am sure you will see the similar themes as you learn about their work. We are all committed to bringing the Utility Network to fruition within the industry to allow customers to more closely align with Esri as the foundation for our future utility software needs.

Introduction

Ørsted (formerly DONG Energy) is a Danish utility with several business units: Wind Power, Bioenergy & Thermal Power and Distribution & Customer Solutions (DCS). DCS is distributing electricity to around 1 million end customers in the greater Copenhagen area. Planning and maintenance of the electrical grid is supported by Esri ArcGIS.

In late 2015 Ørsted decided to push forward the adaptation of the new promising Utility Network Management software from Esri. Together with Esri partner Similix, Ørsted formulated a plan that was targeted for Ørsted to be an early adaptor of the technology, and to ensure that Esri had knowledge about the key requirements to support a European grid model.

Step One: Developing a Project to Adopt Utility Network

Ørsted’s GIS is the master data system for its assets underpinning SAP, ADMS, OMS and several mobile and web solutions. This means that any GIS change project will also include a major change management project throughout the business. The initial part of the project included six work streams:

  1. Data Models
  2. Business Process Support
  3. User Experience
  4. Programming Interface
  5. Integrations
  6. Migration

Figure 1. Ørsted’s project work streams to integrate Esri’s Utility Network

The six work streams, which are described in detail in figure 1, were developed into a plan for the project execution, expected to start in early 2018, alongside a high-level project and milestone plan shown in figure 2.

Figure 2 Project and milestone plan to migrate Ørsted into Esri’s Utility Network

An important part of the plan was to work closely together with Esri, both to learn about the technology, and to ensure that key requirements are supported within the software. To do this, Ørsted and Similix have worked with the Utility Network alpha software since September 2016, followed by the Utility Network beta program this summer (2017).

What are the Key Requirements for Ørsted to Implement the Esri Utility Network?

To guide the project and dialogue with Esri, Ørsted developed a set of high level statements about the current situation and the target future state. These were the first discussed at a workshop with Esri in January 2016, comprising:

  1. Electric Model: The GIS model must include more effective support for modelling the electric configuration and behaviour of assets, such as breakers and transformers 
  2. Asset Model: The GIS model must include more effective support for modelling asset structures and the relationship between conducting and non-conducting equipment
  3. Schematics: The GIS model must include better support for handling schematic representation 
  4. Historic information: The GIS model must include greater support for historic information. We need to model both how the grid was in the past, and how it may look in the future. 
  5. Change Management: The GIS model must include better support for making changes to the model and deploy these safely to production

Developing a Utility Network Model for Ørsted

The existing GIS data model at Ørsted was shaped in the late 1990s. It has been modified many times to support new requirements as new business processes have evolved and been introduced over time. 

To ensure the new data model is built on strong foundations, Ørsted started a community of utilities with the purpose of developing a specific Utility Network model supporting European distribution grids. The community’s inaugural meeting was in December 2016. The plan is to release the first version of the model end of 2017. In time to be used with the first release of the Utility Network.

Figure 3. The European utilities community created to support a common Utility Network Data model

The model’s objective is to create the basis for grid maintenance and operation for the next 10-15 years. Achieving this requires a flexible model that will support future asset maintenance methods, condition monitoring, and integration with operational systems such as SCADA and ADMS.

More utilities are welcome to join the community. The aim of the group is to discuss and form at data model for European utilities, give input to Esri on the requirements from the electric distribution domain, and to learn from each other as the implementation projects progress. During the workshops this year, the group of utilities has exchanged a wide variety of experience of supporting grid planning, operation and maintenance.

How Ørsted is Migrating Data into the Esri Utility Network

An essential element of developing the data model is the ability to run an iterative process of migrating data, evaluating results, and refining the model, as shown in figure 4. Ørsted is using the Similix Utility Network (UN) Migration Suite for this purpose.

Figure 4. The iterative process of data migration using Similix Utility Network Migration Suite

Ørsted has mapped the existing data model to a pre-version of the European Utility Network model, loaded data that represents different network configurations to the beta release of the Utility Network, and build a network. 

The iterative process and getting early hands on experience with the Utility Network software has been a strong foundation for giving input to Esri on anything from versioning mechanism to APIs. It has been a great pleasure to experience the responsiveness from the development team at Esri. 

Figure 5. The user interface of the Similix Utility Network Mapping Tool 
Figure 6. Some examples of migrated data. Red lines are the “old” network, blue is the Utility Network.

Next steps at Ørsted … 

Should we aim for phased go-live?

The critical importance of GIS-data at Ørsted has been increasing as a greater number of business processes are supported directly on the GIS platform, or by GIS data integrated with ERP and ADMS. Thus, the strategy for going live with Esri’s Utility Network must be carefully considered.

A viable solution is to adopt a step-by-step go-live strategy. This can be achieved by adopting a solution that updates the Utility Network database using the changes made to the data in the current Geometric Network database. In this way, the grid will be represented both in the geometric network and the utility network, and can start supporting business processes one-by-one from the Utility Network, highlighted in figure 6.

Figure 7. Integration between 10.2.1 technology and the Utility Network

A major advantage of this approach is, that a phased go-live with an earlier than planned first release is possible, and it will also give the opportunity to learn much more about ArcGIS Pro, API/SDK’s and the Utility Model before moving highly critical processes to the Utility Network, and phasing out 10.2.1 and ArcFM™.

Investigating Data Quality

One of the coming steps is to analyze the migrated data for possible data quality problems, so the effort for correcting data to fit the Utility Network can be estimated.  

From former migration and integration projects we have learned, that data with sufficient quality for one data model or application might need enrichment to be fit for purpose for the future.

Working with Diagrams

Today Ørsted is manually maintaining a full schematic view of the grid, meaning that everything is documented twice. The result is a fit for purpose view, but the process is time consuming. 

With the Utility Network comes the new functionality “Diagrams”, which is an auto-generated schematic view. We are looking forward to work with the coming releases of the software to investigate if can skip the redundant data maintenance process in the future.

How Big is this Project? 

Moving from 10.2.1 to Utility Network is a major change. Regardless if you are running plain 10.2.1 or have applications like ArcFM™ on top, this is not an upgrade – it’s a full migration project. You cannot do a 1:1 migration project. A classic example is, that the new Utility Network data model limits the number of feature classes to 5, while Ørsted have 70+ in 10.2.1. You need to spend time understanding the new model and on which objects you should store the information needed, and you need a tool box to help you map and migrate.

The good news is, that the new data model is focused on supporting optimized performance. Ørsted have successfully migrated both meshed and radial networks covering both medium and low Voltage grid.

Also from a developer point of view, the project is a major change. The need for ArcObjects skills will be very limited in the future – but the request for developers with the conceptual understanding of how to develop ArcGIS utility apps or functionality will grow, because the Utility Network on top of the ArcGIS Pro is opening a lot of new opportunities to create business value.

Why be an Early Adopter?

From a management perspective, it’s about de-risking the project and improving the business case.

By joining the Alpha and Beta programs, we can give feedback to Esri at a time, when it is still realistic to include a solution in one of the first productive release of the software. An investment in impacting the standard solution comes many folds back in saved cost on custom development and maintenance, incl. savings on future upgrades. When discussing our use cases in the Utility Network community, we evaluate the relevance of our feedback by asking ourselves, if the feedback on the software represents the optimal business processes.

Our vision for GIS is a platform, that can scale with future needs for documenting assets, grid configurations and support analytic needs, that we cannot even foresee. The platform should enable customers and partners to cost-effective build productivity tools, applications and integrations on top, that creates value for the utilities. Utilities should be able to pick and combine solutions on top of Utility Network based on a best of breed strategy. We are impressed to see how far Esri have gone down that road with the Utility Network.

By adapting the software early, we will get the savings from phasing out old applications on top of 10.2.1 earlier, while at the same time releasing the benefits of improved business support earlier.

Sign Up for the Esri-Ørsted-Similix Webinar: "Making the Business Case for the Utility Network"

Esri and Ørsted are hosting a free webinar tomorrow, Wednesday, October 11. Register here

About Ørsted (formerly DONG Energy)

We've transformed from being an energy company based on coal and the production of oil and gas to being a company with a focus on green energy.  Our green transformation means that we're now a different energy company than we used to be. 

We've become too green for our name. As a result, on 6 November DONG Energy becomes Ørsted.

The inspiration for our new name comes from the Danish scientist Hans Christian Ørsted. He discovered electromagnetism 200 years ago, a discovery that's essential to the way we produce power today. His curiosity, dedication and interest in nature are characteristics and values that we share and that are crucial for creating a world that runs entirely on green energy.

Read more at orsted.com

All images contained within this blog post were provided by Ørsted (formerly DONG Energy).

Author Information

  • Jesper Vinther Christensen

    Jesper Vinther Christensen is founder and Owner of SIMILIX, Esri & OSIsoft partner.

    Jesper is currently working as partner/advisor on the Utility Network implementations on the DONG Energy as well as other customers and as architect on several projects.

    Jesper holds a Ph.D. in GeoScience & Computing Science and has 20 years of experience with IT-projects, especially with System Integration, Enterprise Architecture and Geographic Information Systems.

    Contact: jesper@similix.dk

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  • Signe Bramming Andersen

    Signe Bramming Andersen is Senior Manager, Head of Asset & Energy Management, Group IT, DONG Energy.

    Responsible for implementing IT-platforms for supporting  DONG Energy’s  Smart Energy Programmes including Utility Network, ADMS, Wind Farm Management, Power Hub (VPP)

    Signe has worked with DONG Energy since 1999 and holds a Master in Economics & Business Administration.

    Contact: sigba@dongenergy.dk

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