Operational Gains

TPDDL’s IT initiatives to improve reliability and customer service

Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (TPDDL), a joint venture of Tata Power Company and the Delhi government, is licensed to distribute power in north and northwest Delhi. With a total registered customer base of 1.53 million spread across an area of 510 square km, TPDDL caters to an annual energy demand of 8,610 MUs and a peak load of 1,791 MUs. The company has implemented a series of IT initiatives with the objective of achieving complete system integration for enhanced reliability and consumer service delivery.

Smart Utilities presents an overview of TPDDL’s IT initiatives…

GSAS

One of the measures being undertaken by TPDDL is automation of its substations through the grid substation automation system (GSAS). It helps in centralised control and monitoring of grid stations, reduction in the chances of manual errors, thereby eliminating the risk of equipment damage, and facilitating faster restoration of supply. It also leads to an improvement in the discom’s reliability indices and provides a safer working environment.

GSAS entails equipping the substation with intelligent electronic devices, and control and automation capabilities in order to allow remote users to control the functioning of the substation. It significantly reduces the manpower required for managing the substation.

GSAS deployment involves the replacement of old equipment and control devices with supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA)-compatible equipment. This enables centralised control and monitoring of substations, which lowers installation and maintenance costs, reduces the chances of manual errors and improves equipment reliability. Utilities can achieve savings through the redeployment of manpower in strategic functions, controlled load shedding, reduction in electricity overdrawal from the grid, and reduction in the time taken for fault detection and correction.

DMS

The distribution management system (DMS) helps TPDDL in centralised monitoring of its network. It is essentially an IT system that is capable of collecting, organising, displaying and analysing real-time or near-real-time information pertaining to the functioning of the distribution network. DMS accesses real-time data and provides the information on a single console at the control centre in an integrated manner. It helps in improving the reliability and quality of service by reducing outages, minimising outage time, and maintaining appropriate frequency and voltage levels. DMS can lead to several benefits in the form of reduced load shedding and easier identification and correction of faults.

DAS

The distribution automation system (DAS) comprises several technologies and applications that serve different objectives such as improved operational efficiency, peak load management and system restoration. It is important for a utility to identify the objective and deploy the technology that provides the best return on investment in ways that can be measured by the utility.

SCADA systems are typically used for remote monitoring and control of circuit breakers and equipment in distribution substations. The detailed monitoring information from substations can be used in conjunction with outage management systems (OMS) to identify possible fault locations on the distribution system, which can significantly improve fault response and repair times.

The deployment of SCADA for monitoring and controlling the switches on the distribution circuits is an area of significant investment in the industry. It allows for remote control of switches in the distribution circuits, and can help limit outages if the switches can operate automatically to reconfigure circuits. It can result in substantial benefits in terms of reliability improvement for the utility.

GIS

TPDDL’s entire network at all voltage levels has been mapped through a geographic information system (GIS) for enabling faster fault location and speedy redressal. The OMS is being upgraded to be automated on the GIS platform. GIS plays a crucial role in the development of a geo-referenced consumer and network database for distribution utilities. Effective operation of the distribution system requires good quality maps for asset management. GIS provides an optimal platform for capturing location-based asset information. It helps in unlocking value for all stakeholders by enhancing productivity for the workforce, faster and better services for customers, and revenue addition for shareholders.

OMS

OMS allows utilities to manage unscheduled and scheduled outages, and ensures reliable operation of the grid. Further, OMS minimises the impact of outages through its “self-healing” capabilities. It typically integrates SCADA/DMS, crew monitoring, asset monitoring and allied systems. OMS tracks information on outages from customer calls, advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), SCADA, etc. It helps the utility in initial fault notification, prediction, crew assignment, fault isolation and return-to-normal switching.

CRM

A customer relationship management (CRM) solution is an important link between the customer and the company. CRM essentially refers to practices, strategies and technologies that companies use to manage and analyse customer interactions and data throughout the customer’s life cycle, with the goal of improving business relationships with customers, assisting in customer retention and driving sales growth. In the context of the power sector, it becomes even more significant, given that distribution is the weakest link in the Indian power supply chain.

Integration between systems

Seamless integration between various IT systems plays a key role in the success of technology in streamlining business operations. For instance, OMS can help a utility reduce the cycle time of the complaint management process through integration with CRM. To achieve this, information on outages is displayed on the CRM database to give an accurate response to customers’ queries and the information is sent via SMS to customers who are affected by the power shutdown. Similarly, the integration of GIS with other systems like SAP, CRM, SCADA, DMS and OMS helps in managing the complete distribution network through faster and better decision-making.

TPDDL data centres

TPDDL has data centres which ensure that the servers are consolidated and the storage is integrated and scalable. The presence of data centres prevents data duplication and facilitates an automatic backup process. The data centres are equipped with automated fire detection and firefighting equipment, and have modular and rack-mountable UPS redundancy. Besides, there is a redundant power grid source for UPS input. The servers are monitored 24×7 and CCTVs used for monitoring physical activity and access control.

Issues and the way forward

Going forward, TPDDL is planning to implement AMI, data/business analytics, enterprise service bus, field force automation (FFA) and integrated communication technology. AMI is an important component of any smart grid initiative. It facilitates automated, two-way communication between a smart utility meter and a utility. It provides distribution utilities with real-time data on power consumption and allows customers to make informed choices about energy usage based on the price at the time of use. Business analytics is increasingly emerging as a potential tool to reduce losses. Utilities are now working to become more proactive in decision-making, adjusting their strategies based on reasonable predictive views by deploying business analytics methods, which allows them to tackle problems more efficiently. FFA is another smart technique being increasingly deployed by utilities to improve their operational performance and enhance customer satisfaction. FFA involves the use of technology, typically hand-held personal digital assistants, wireless devices, tablets or mobile phones, to capture field sales or service information in real time.

Security is a key concern for utilities when implementing IT systems. In order to strengthen the security of IT systems, TPDDL has taken steps to segregate IT and operational technology (OT) through separate firewalls to secure critical OT applications (SCADA and OMS). Also, data encryption is carried out to protect the hard disks on laptops in order to secure enterprise data. Further, measures have been taken to strengthen the communication network by establishing an additional microwave link (300 MBPS) between various data centres.

TPPDL has also made efforts to enhance the learning of team members to develop secure software solutions. For this, sessions are held within the team to develop secure web-enabled software systems. Also, the existing in-house web-enabled software systems are being modified to make them more secure. n

Based on a presentation by Lalit Wasan, Head, Energy Audit, TPDDL, at a recent Power Line conference

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