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The Power of GIS

Uday Kale
Vice President IT
Reliance Energy
[email protected]

Yes, things have started improving. The results of many initiatives taken by Central Power Ministry, Power Finance Corporation, State Governments, State Electricity Boards have started showing healthy trends.

The various parameters that are used to monitor the health of the Indian power sector indicate that the post initial dissatisfaction and uncertainty, reforms are back on track. The most important parameter is the technical and commercial (T&C) losses. A sizable reduction in the losses, to the tune of 30% has been achieved by many SEBs. Every percent saving means crores of savings to the SEBs. State electricity boards do not have a choice but to adhere to the reform programme. Though India continues to be affected by a big power deficit, measures are being taken to improve the situation by having a comprehensive National Energy Policy in place. Today, rural areas witness load shedding for a large part of the day. The daily un-scheduled power cuts affect life and industry immensely. Further, the 2001 census results indicate that more than 44 % of the Indian population does not have access to electricity. And though the Government of India is trying its best, the gap between demand and supply of power is widening. The electric utility industry is predominantly technology oriented with bulky sophisticated equipment and valuable assets requiring heavy capital investment.

In Intelligent technology innovation in life-cycle management Reliance Energy the past, with a few exceptions, traditional electric utilities were publicly owned and protected by regulations within territories demarcated by the government with few new entrants. Many electric utilities tried to maximise reliability of equipment and plant with less emphasis on costs and quality of their operations and maintenance (O&M). But things have been changing very rapidly; electric utilities are facing fiercely growing external competitive pressure. Economical, technological, social and political transitions are gradually transferring them from a restricted regulation- protected to a more open market-driven competitive environment. Customers want the best quality of electricity at the lowest price. There is little public tolerance of failure for electric utility infrastructure in cities and towns. Consequently many electric utilities are searching for good maintenance management methodologies and practices in order to reduce costs while improving equipment reliability and plant availability.

Reliance Infrastructure is in the business of generation, transmission & distribution of electricity. This business sector is characterised by a large physical spread of assets, work sites and offices. Spatial element plays a significant role in the life cycle management of electrical utility business. Reliance Energy has developed a state-of-the-art enterprise wide integrated geospatial solution, specifically suitable for Indian conditions. This solution is based on Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) to maximise the benefits from various IT systems like SAP, IS-U CCS, SCADA, SAS, DMS, AMR and CYME. The ultimate purpose is to help the Indian Electrical Energy sector to solve business problems and to achieve international levels of customer service. Implementation of GIS has solved several critical problems faced by Reliance Energy. The major problem was non availability of the entire network. The cable route drawings of the existing, 70-yearold, underground network were not available. The implementation exercise plotted the network in the system and thereby provided the spatial coordinates to every element of the network. Through an intelligent combination of GIS & Fault Passage Indicator (FPI), identification of fault identification and restoration was quicker and accurate. Integration with SCADA/ DMS gave very valuable real time information to GIS users which otherwise was impossible.

GIS integration with ABB's SCADA system (Fig. 1) benefitted users by making available network and location information simultaneously.

In electrical utility life-cycle management, network planning plays a significant role. Planning for growth of the network was made easier by providing visibility of prospects on land-base with the network features in the proximity. The planning also makes use of third party network analysis tool called CYME Dist. Reliance Energy has developed a special interface to take data from SAP PM in to GIS and then to CYME. This helps the planner the current and accurate network data for load flow, short circuit analysis and contingency management.

In Mumbai, emergency situations such as floods, water logging and logistics needs to be tackled. Geospatial solution helps the users to identify their assets/facilities in the low lying areas and take a proactive action on the same. In Reliance, GIS has helped O&M to give the visibility and pattern of energy losses, making the remedial measures simpler. Most importantly, geospatial technology is being used to streamline end-to-end business processes like new connection, network planning, OMS etc.

The above diagram (Figure 2) shows starting from bottom how a dump data or satellite images/2009/may are converted to intelligent data by value addition such as digitisation, geo-referencing, projection etc. The most important aspect of GIS building block is data modelling. application development , data and system integration is dependent on how good, sound your data model is built. And then making use of applications a business strategy can be formulated. Hence this step by step approach is important.

The vision for the overall strategic framework for Reliance Energy is a combination of providing the required common IT infrastructure; study and improvement of the business processes to enhance on support provided by modern information technology and Enterprise GIS for informed decision making.

REL GIS Dashboard ( Figure 3) is an enterprise wide implementation of GIS. This leverages us with the power of various business intelligences through one single platform.


Here is a gist of various departments, their functions and how they use GIS.

  • System & Control Department: Real time switching plans / switching orders.
  • O&M, HT Maintenance Department: Tracking of faults in minimum time / fault management.
  • Street Light Department: Creation of street light proposal (technical & commercial).
  • HT/LT Maintenance Department: Improving the operational efficiency of WMS-SAP notifications and work order creations through GIS.
  • System & Control Department: Visualisation of GIS network within SCADA/DMS system.
  • Energy Audit Department: Loss calculation and visualisation through GIS.
  • HT/LT Department: Hyperlinking of HT & LT single line diagrams (SLD) and engineering drawings with GIS features/network.
  • Planning. Department: Network analysis with GIS integrated third party analysis tool CYME DIST.
  • All Departments: Electrical network tracing functionality for understanding downstream and upstream network.
  • O&M Department: Updating and maintaining entire electrical distribution network in Web GIS instead of paper maps.
  • O&M Department: Outage management.
  • Business Development Department: Identification of premium, high value and new customers.
  • Slum asset visualization and management.

Innovation is often fostered when more and more people are allowed access to new information sources. That is what the GeoWeb 2.0 has done. It has powered the notion that interoperability is a key in assuring that mapping technology becomes an integral part of enterprise systems and consumer applications as well. Continuing with this, Reliance Energy made GIS portal more efficient by providing the power of run time analysis on the Web itself along with the spatial database using ArcGIS Server. Growing technologies such as Mobile GIS , GPS (Global positioning System), AI (Artificial Intelligence ) too are being tried on pilot basis and discussions are in progress on how to converge these new technology initiatives for business benefits.