Duke Energy is embarking on a project to update its Transmission Health & Risk Management (HRM) strategy. An initial focus will be on power transformers followed by circuit breakers as the most capital intensive assets in the Transmission system. The process/methodology has been selected and implementation of HRM in one operating region is planned in 2019 with other regions following. A discussion of lessons learned so far will be shared.
Duke Energy is not unique. Like many utilities, asset data exists in one database and test data in multiple other databases. This information was not tied together for reporting or monitoring and relied on subject matter experts (SMEs) to review and trend results to consider equipment condition. The data grew stale quickly in these snapshots in time.
Much was learned during this time about equipment condition. Now these SMEs are moving on and fewer candidates are entering the pool to learn to be one of these SMEs. Modern Expert Systems and Artificial Intelligence methods have entered the industry. Duke Energy determined it was time to embrace them a couple of years ago. The goal of trending was to consider the health of the assets and what risk these assets may hold. Our HRM process is moving this concept forward in a big way.
Duke Energy’s “family tree” includes Duke Power, Cinergy, and Progress Energy. Each of these companies resulted from other mergers. With each merger, some integration occurs but never seems to arrive at the finish line. Efforts have to be made to drive enough consistency in data and processes for our HRM solution to function as designed.
Duke Energy Transmission is going live with power transformers in HRM in one region in February of 2019 with a scheduled complete integration for power transformers and circuit breakers by 2021. This report includes lessons-learned concepts from our journey thus far.
Much thought was put into the project scope to define what equipment would be included initially and what would be the performance requirements. Definition was needed for bidding purposes. When the resources, including external, were in place, the scope provides the project road map. Duke Energy has been successful in maintaining the original scope to avoid costly change orders. The lesson is that thoughtful scope creation will provide savings later avoiding costly change orders.
The initial scope included first transformers followed by breakers. HRM is not yet online and there is a standing request to add underground cables to HRM later.
A good project scope will support the identification of required information/data. This data may be scattered about. Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) techniques will be necessary to consolidate the data for usage. Critical data must be assessed for its “health”. Some data may be in good shape but the project may also be required to manage poor data sources to bring them off life-support to complete health. Contractors and/or internal resources could be dedicated to cleaning up the necessary data fields to be utilized by HRM. These efforts can take place in parallel to standing up the main process. Duke Energy levered all of these strategies and continues to do so as the project goes live.
A project such of HRM requires year-over-year funding to succeed. If a project is delayed due to funding, resources move on. If a project is fortunate to restart, it will be more expensive in the long run with the loss in momentum. Fortunately, Duke Energy Transmission has enjoyed continuous project support since approval was granted.
A resource includes personnel as well as computer hardware/software. Information Technology (IT) personnel are critical. Internal IT personnel are necessary to understand the internal architecture and security requirements. External IT personnel typically deliver at least part of the final product. Internal and External IT resources should be assigned for continuity purposes. Transmission secured assigned internal IT resources to support the project.
The customer, Duke Energy Transmission in this case, must have dedicated resources to steer the project to the desired result. If Transmission personnel must also support other priorities, the impact to the project could be large. Some resources can be used to perform specific scopes of work such as data cleanup. This may be an opportunity to use supplemental support such as contracted resources. Transmission assigned a dedicated lead engineer to spearhead the project and provided a support team to lead data clean up and integration tasks.
Developers may be an external company providing some or all of your end-product. Similar to the concerns for in-house, developers should have dedicated resources and project management to understand the vision and deliver. Some turnover is natural but should be managed.
Hardware and Software
The hardware and software platform must be considered. Most Transmission employees transitioned from Windows 7 to new machines running Windows 10 during development. The preferred and supported web browser at the company is Internet Explorer 11. Internet Explorer 11 has some issues with some of the modern web integrations. Google Chrome is popular with external developers. Duke Energy IT has allowed some use of Chrome due to Internet Explorer 11 compatibility issues which will cover HRM concerns also.
Management support is necessary through the entire project from conception to production and beyond. The management team may change team members with a multi-year project. Periodic budget reviews are common to manage costs. Will your project be at risk on a regular basis? Duke Energy Transmission enjoyed full support from the Vice-President level. Support at multiple levels can help insure your project continues.
Multi-year project team communications to beneficiaries and the management team are critical. The project team may be heads-down with sleeves rolled up getting the project completed on time, however, the team should keep the beneficiaries excited about what is coming. The Duke Energy team created a HRM One Minute Message monthly newsletter to accomplish this goal. When implementers, beneficiaries, and management see the finish line for such a high impact project, you should have their support.
Engage beneficiaries throughout the project for input via meetings and surveys. Engage users with demonstrations and screenshots for additional input as the product nears testing. When the project reaches User Acceptance Testing (UAT), engage them. User engagement should help you deliver a product that is accepted from the first day.
While Duke Energy has not reached this stage yet, it is anticipated that product owners will need to stay abreast of technology updates. New computer hardware, operating systems, internet browsers, etc. can place your process into a ditch. Duke Energy’s implementation will have both in-house and external resources that will require monitoring for performance and data security. The HRM product custodian is clearly placed within a group in Transmission as part of their mission.
Duke Energy Transmission is looking forward to standing up the HRM product in production in February of 2019. We have high expectations. UAT suggests that this product will do what we asked.