Since 1980, PSE&G (Newark, New Jersey, U.S.) has used an in-house-developed software application to help manage its safety-tagging program. Previously, PSE&G created tens of thousands of tags manually each year. Twenty-two years and more than one million safety tags later, the utility finally decided to decommission the old legacy system in early 2002.

PSE&G's electric transmission department had demanding requirements for an automated Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) system. Tagging request work orders had to span geographic, departmental and interstate boundaries. Many jobs would involve intricate switching orders centrally orchestrated from the operations planning group. Safety tagging rules would require strict access rights.

PSE&G evaluated several available safety-tagging systems over a six-month period before chosing a commercial system from Stonebridge Software Inc. (Denville, New Jersey) called WinSTETS. Key requirements in selecting the system included ease of use, built-in safety features, adherence to existing business process rules, flexibility in configuring the system look and feel, and easy migration of existing data.

From the initial proposal evaluation, it took less than four months to final production. All aspects of the safety-tagging process were user configurable and any customization was delivered in a few days. PSE&G completed deployment to more than 50 users at several reporting locations in less than three weeks. Training requirements were minimal, and customer support resolved all problems within 24 hours.

The tagging process for transmission, distribution and generator interconnections is especially complex due to multiple geographic locations on the same request including specific safety rules needing approval. Operator worksheets and tags that previously took up to an hour to prepare, now are routinely created in minutes with the new system. In less than two months after implementing the new system, the three individuals who comprise the operations planning group created and processed more than 1000 tagging request work orders.

WinSTETS is a critical tool for the PSE&G's outage-management process. It maximizes maintenance efforts, reduces outage exposure and ensures reliability. In the first year of operation, PSE&G will save more than US$100,000 with the new LOTO system.
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