GIS mobile solution to power distribution data in Malaysia

GIS mobile solution to power distribution data in Malaysia


As part of its drive to improve efficiency and reduce operational costs, Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), the largest electricity utility company in Malaysia, initiated a Corporate Geospatial Information System (CGIS) to serve the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity to an estimated 8.3 million customers. A mobile GIS update device is utilised to ensure CGIS data are always available, accurate and reliable.

TNB’s core businesses are in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. In Peninsular Malaysia, the Company supplies households and industry with electricity generated from six thermal stations and three major hydroelectric schemes. It also manages and operates the National Grid which links TNB power stations and IPPs to the distribution network. The grid is connected to Thailand’s transmission system in the north and Singapore’s transmission system in the south.

As part of its drive to improve efficiency and reduce operational costs, one of TNB’s initiatives is implementing a Corporate Geospatial Information System (CGIS) Project. Other than serving the core businesses, CGIS is also required to manage internal TNB fibre optic network, property management, security and logistics.

One of the factors that contribute towards the successful implementation of CGIS in TNB is ensuring that all of the required data for CGIS functionalities are always available, accurate and reliable. High integrity data can only be realised by making sure that any changes to data attributes are immediately updated into the CGIS databases onsite. This can be achieved by providing proper field data capture or update tool to the users. To ensure process standardisation and compliance, the use of this tool shall be made compulsory as part of their daily works.

Data management in CGIS Project

Involving three (3) core divisions, namely Generation, Transmission,  Distribution and three (3) non-core divisions in TNB; ICT, Planning & Corporate Services, this project aims to collect and digitize the following assets:

  • 27 Power Stations (Thermal & Hydro)
  • 38 Mini Hydro
  • ~7.3 million customer points/meter
  • ~60,000 substations & associated equipment
  • ~250,000 km of underground (UG) cables
  • 380 Main Intake Substations (132kv and above)
  • 14,000 km of overhead (OH) lines
  • 3,000 km of UG cables
  • 15200 land parcels (Generation, substations, TNB offices)
  • ~60,000 PE land parcels
  • ~7,600 buildings
  • ~10,000 km of fiber optics cables
  • 480 communication rooms
  • 1000 km of Last Mile Fiber

Such massive data volume requires proper and efficient data management, from work package preparation, field data collection, data digitisation, and QA/QC and data maintenance. Data Update Device (DUDe) was introduced to assist TNB in ensuring a more effective and productive data maintenance for the implementation of the TNB GIS project.


4 Keys Elements in Data Maintenance

Data Update Device (DUDe) Project

DUDe is a mobile solution introduced in TNB with an aim to improve efficiency and process in maintaining and updating asset information on-the-go via mobile device.

TNB has embarked on the implementation of DUDe Project (Phase I) in November 2012 and expected to complete by September 2013. DUDe has been introduced as a GIS mobile solution for the CGIS Project. Distribution Division, with the highest volume of assets to be operated and maintained, has been identified as a consumer of DUDe.

In TNB Distribution Division, there are 3 major functions/units namely Planning & Construction, Customer Services, and Operation & Maintenance which are involved in managing and maintaining TNB’s electrical networks and assets. On top of using CGIS as a desktop GIS application to plan, construct, operate and maintain, an efficient mobile solution namely DUDe is needed to ensure high data integrity and seamless data updating.



  Solution Overview

With the use of DUDe system, TNB will be able to:

  • Allow the construction supervisor to update network design on site during construction phase and after construction is completed. The status of assets can be updated progressively.
  • Provide functions that allow users to view on-going project status on-demand basis in CGIS during construction phase including “% of overall completion”, “Construction Complete Date”, “Full Commissioning Date” and “Take Over Certificate (TOC) Date”.
  • Capability for users to amend planned networks on site based on construction progress or as-built drawings at different phases of construction.
  • Upon project closure, Engineering Information Unit (EIU) will consolidate all asset status report from construction unit and update asset data attributes in SAP’s Plant Maintenance module (e.g. functional location of asset, type, manufacturer, etc.)


 Time savings and cost reduction 

  • By integrating data via GIS mobile device, time spent for on-site field surveying as well as manpower cost can be reduced significantly
  • Reduction of paper consumption; achieved by eliminating pen and paper approach to collect, edit and load data

Improve work productivity and efficiency

  • More productive GIS data management process through rapid data collection and seamless data integration
  • Improve operational efficiency of field crew  

Increase data reliability and quality

  • Precise, up-to-date information and reduction of human error due to immediate on-site data acquisition
  • Assist TNB in making more accurate, real-time business decisions and collaboration across the organization

Challenges and Conclusion

Change management is a critical part of any project that introduces new processes, technologies and systems. To ensure successful implementation of the mobile GIS initiative in TNB, active participation and take-up from all stakeholders is crucial during this transformation phase. Level of detailed assets to be updated and collected must be collectively agreed. Without a common understanding between functional/business owners and implementers, the DUDe system cannot be realised to its full potential. To mitigate this, working level stakeholders must be identified correctly and data requirements are to be addressed and analysed holistically. In addition, data ownership has to be identified and informed at the beginning of project implementation to ensure continuous data maintenance by each owner.

With regards to the extensiveness of data attributes captured, it is important to note that striking the right balance between business needs and required efforts is the key to a successful mobile GIS implementation. Without accurate and reliable data, all CGIS functionalities cannot be used and will lead to incorrect decision making and low system utilisation. Focusing on finalising data model, dataset synchronisation flow between CGIS and DUDe servers must be made to ensure smoothness of DUDe system. Besides that, data model and process flow should also be agreed upon and finalised during project implementation stage to reduce risk of delay in project delivery.