eThekwini Electricity, the licensed electricity distributor of the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, undertook an initiative to capture and model all its electrical network assets to develop and implement an integrated infrastructure asset management business plan for the municipality. The electricity distributor engaged Zutari to assist with the data collection and modelling exercise.
Electrical network asset data is of a technical nature, and often requires qualified field personnel to correctly identify the asset and record the required information. Using such personnel increases the cost of the field exercise and is prone to causing errors due to capture fatigue or incorrect interpretation, and there is no simple remote means of validating data.
The project team had to find innovative solutions to a number of issues such as:
- Planning and executing a very comprehensive field exercise covering an area of more than 2,300 km2 that ensured high quality of data
- Developing a connected network model with more than 900 000 equipment items recorded from the field
- Defining the asset structures for the purpose of an equipment and asset register
- Propagating information through all relevant systems with a view on future system integration
The project team adopted an approach for office modelling that relied on domain specialists, a well-structured data capture process, and state-of-the-art information systems in support of a largely unqualified data capture and modelling team. The engineers and supervisors initially trained new data capturers, after which they assisted with ad hoc queries and the interpretation of data where the data capturers did not have the experience.
The project team adopted an approach for office modelling that relied on domain specialists, a well-structured data capture process, and state-of-the-art information systems in support of a largely unqualified data capture and modelling team.
Most municipalities in South Africa maintain a geographic information systems (GIS) model that simply represents equipment location, but does not include actual connectivity, which is of utmost importance for network operations, as well as for smart grid planning and implementation projects.
The project’s data modelling was carried out in a geographical network information system (GNIS) supporting real connected network modelling. This greatly enhanced modelling quality and added value to the deliverable as a result of functionalities realised from connectivity. The model implemented allowed full connectivity from the customer to any upstream device through network topology.
The successful project allowed eThekwini Electricity to realise the value from the extra effort involved in enabling proper asset management. They are determined to reap the benefits of investing in data capturing, implementing processes, systems and continuous training to ensure excellence in their asset management.
*The Aurecon Africa business has been officially renamed Zutari as at 21 July 2020. Zutari acquired Aurecon Middle East on 20 November 2020.