Weatherford, a western suburb of Fort Worth, Texas, U.S., is a family centric community with a tradition of planning for the future. To deliver clean, reliable power to this community requires near-flawless substation performance. Accordingly, substations must be rigorously and routinely inspected. However, as is the case with many small utilities, the cost of one of the major dedicated substation maintenance tools was out of reach for Weatherford Electric. The challenge to do more with less while concurrently increasing quality and productivity poses a difficult conundrum. To arrive at an economical solution, the business and engineering staff of Weatherford Electric partnered with MinMax Technologies, a Dallas, Texas, solution provider, to develop SMART (Substation Maintenance Asset Reliability Tracking).

The Weatherford team's development criteria included the need to log each substation inspection activity for regulatory oversight. The program had to be wirelessly linked to hand-held devices for activity prompting, task definitions and data recording. Visual inspections were required for power transformers, voltage regulators, power circuit breakers, fuses, surge arrestors, buses and shield wire, capacitors, reactors, disconnects and switches, control and metering equipment, structures, grounding system, cable, foundations, substation area and substation fence. As each asset is inspected, previous inspection results of that item are displayed for trending insight.

SMART is an easily configurable program product written on Microsoft's Web application platform SharePoint. SMART is a cloud-based solution using Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G mobility. The user “builds” substations from a central library of assets. Pre-defined inspection items documented in the USDA Design for Rural Substations are loaded in the program's database. The end-user management can remove categories or inspection items provided that such omissions do not jeopardize North American Electric Reliability Corporation or Federal Energy Regulatory Commission guidelines. The inspection process can be conducted in any sequence, and a checklist can be viewed to alert the user of items not yet inspected. The end-user management can use their own terminology for the inspection items to reduce confusion.

The tool had to provide the front-end to a database that could be searched and analyzed easily. Substation inspection records are distinctly coded so that performance comparisons and forensic analysis can be easily achieved. Comments about each inspection item can be entered to create a tickler reminder for follow-up maintenance.

Security levels allow management to control the user's allowable actions, editing or other unilateral activity. The inspection technician's final action is to read and agree to his manager's work notes, and to press the submit button to close the inspection.

NERC PRC-005-02 inspection criteria are included and properly categorized to fulfill audit requirements. SMART strictly follows the USDA Bulletin 1724E-300 Design Guide.

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