For many utilities and their engineering contractors, the substation design process has remained virtually unchanged since Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD) replaced manual 2D drawing methods. This CAD-centric approach has over time proven to be manually intensive and prone to error. In recent years new intelligent substation design technology has been introduced to modernize substation design and enable a significant increase in engineering efficiency. This white paper presents the results of an extensive industry survey that explores and ultimately confirms the benefits of intelligent substation design.

What is Intelligent Substation Design?

Intelligent substation design is a model-centric approach that unites physical and electrical design disciplines while providing productivity tools specifically for electric substation design. There are many standard drawings involved in substation design including single-line, physical layout, schematics, panel layout, and wiring diagrams. Traditional CAD-centric design is focused on creating the set of standard design drawings through independent drafting efforts. This wastes significant time and introduces errors as engineers must manually translate drawings, establish consistency, and manage changes across multiple drawings.

In contrast, intelligent substation design focuses on the assembly of an intelligent substation model that is an integrated representation of all design disciplines. The model is built through the creation of 3D substation layouts, which support the development of 2D drawings that are linked and cross referenced. As the model is completed it automatically seeds related drawings eliminating the need to manually replicate common design elements across physical and electrical disciplines. All drawings are associative to the intelligent model allowing changes in one drawing to be automatically propagated across disciplines and related drawings.

The intelligent substation model also enables tools that improve design productivity. Unlike the graphics-only drawings created with traditional CAD-centric design, intelligent substation model drawings are comprised of objects that possess properties of the equipment they represent, the wiring connections they support, and the engineering principles that govern design. Wires are treated as wires rather than as graphical lines; they break and heal automatically as symbols are placed or removed. Hook points connect related objects, so they automatically snap together. Every object is linked to a parts database, enabling the automatic and accurate generation of the bill of material and other documents. Built-in error checking report conditions including short circuits, duplicate wire numbers, and missing part numbers.

Collectively, these advantages enable a significant step forward in substation design efficiency....(Read more..)