Large Electrical Distributor Improves Analysis of Transformer Management
The need: Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation (MTEMC) needs wanted to determine how they could improve their decision making process around installing and replacing transformers, crucial assets to their electrical distribution.
The background: MTEMC is the U.S.’s 5th largest electrical distribution co-op. MTEMC powers 215,000 members in four counties. The utility manages 11,000 miles of energized line on its ArcGIS platform.
MTEMC is very focused on reliability and historically they have oversized most of their transformer installations based on the expected customer load. And when transformer outages occur, MTEMC would typically upsize the transformer to ensure that sizing was not the cause of the problem.
While this has resulted in a very stable network, it has not always resulted in the most effective use of the assets in the field. Transformers are expensive assets and when a transformer is rated significantly higher than the load it supplies there is an opportunity cost associated with that mismatch in capacity vs. consumption.
To address this issue, MTEMC engineers were looking for a better way to visualize and analyze transformer consumption data against transformer capacity. The raw consumption data was available via their customer information system (CIS) and the engineers had the required calculations to compare the peak consumption data against a transformer’s rated KVA.
The goal was to find a way to bring this data together to drive more effective decision making. And what better place to do this than GIS?
MTEMC joined forces with SSP Innovations on a project to improve this process. The project was broken across three interrelated goals:
First, MTEMC wanted to automatically load the customer consumption data into GIS on a monthly basis. The raw data would then be aggregated to determine peak usage at the transformer level for both winter and summer seasons as well as month over month peak usage for larger transformers. The aggregation is also used to apply the engineering calculations to convert the peak usage into a meaningful value that can be compared against a transformer’s rated KVA to expose a utilization statistic. The end result is that consumption data could be easily and accurately aggregated for each transformer asset.
Second, a transformer loading report was desired to allow engineers to query the aggregated data for either overloaded or under-loaded transformers based on the utilization. The report would allow engineers to input a utilization threshold as a percentage value to find all transformers above or below the mark along with detail on the season or month to be analyzed.
The final goal was to visualize the aggregated data points in GIS via a color-coded thematic map.
In addition, MTEMC wanted to make the transformer data available to the troubleshooters and other field personnel responsible for making decisions around transformer replacements. To accomplish this, the feature data was exposed to the field via an enterprise implementation of ArcGIS Online. The objective was to have troubleshooters be able to use Collector for ArcGIS to locate themselves on the map and to view the most recent load profile for any transformer showing the utilization along with other related information for the peak value. This targeted usage of ArcGIS Online is a great example of utilizing the Esri platform to enable new areas of the business to utilize GIS to empower decision making.
The result of these efforts has enabled MTEMC to drive better decisions around transformer installations and replacements very quickly. It’s a great example of using GIS to bridge the gap between two disparate data sources using spatial and network to develop data relationships that otherwise would not have existed.
“Working with SSP is one of the best decisions MTEMC GIS has made," said MTEMC GIS Coordinator An-Louise De Klerk. "Their exceptional solution design and excellent services are not only refreshing, but truly have transformed GIS at MTEMC.”
SSP was excited to work with MTEMC on this project because of the strong nature of utilizing the significant strengths of their existing ArcFM™ GIS investment alongside the new Esri platform technologies to make this data available to new GIS users on any device anywhere in their service territory. The initial reporting solution went live in November 2014 with the ArcGIS Online capability following it along with MTEMC's 10.2.1 upgrade in early 2015.