Closed Circuit

​By Kevon Storie

As Asset Management enters its fifth year as a formal program in 2020, it continues to expand its scope and demonstrate the critical role data plays in managing risk.

New year, new assets

The year began with the addition of four new assets to the program: load tap changers, bushings, power circuit breakers under 100 kilovolts and cranes, the program’s first asset in the heavy fleet class.

These assets were chosen because of their potential to affect WAPA’s ability to deliver power to its customers. Power circuit breakers of 34.5 kV and 69 kV represent a large portion of WAPA’s fleet and, in many cases, are critical to directly serving customer load. Load tap changers and bushings may seem less critical, but failure of these components can take out larger, more complex, more critical and more expensive assets such as breakers and large power transformers. 

Cranes, while not involved in transmission, are necessary for performing many types of routine and emergency maintenance and repairs. Maintaining and replacing these asset classes consume considerable time, labor and dollars so applying the asset management approach to them will yield significant benefits for WAPA’s maintenance community.

Cracking problem codes

AM data can give stakeholders inside and outside of WAPA the big picture of asset performance—as long as they have a shared understanding of what the data represents. In 2020, WAPA will update its datacollection methodology that standardizes descriptions of in-service asset anomalies. This effort will improve equipment performance analysis, consistently communicate asset data within WAPA and facilitate knowledge sharing with the utility industry.

The practice of using a standard set of terminology to describe field-observed equipment problems is called problem code reporting. When maintenance personnel are documenting the work they performed, they select a term from a hierarchy to indicate the condition of the equipment components that require work. Describing problems with a set of standardized terms, rather than a non-standard text description, enables efficient analysis of the causes of equipment problems.

WAPA’s reliability-centered maintenance program has long used problem code reporting in one form or another to collect in-service asset data. The project to improve WAPA’s current coding system stemmed from the need to create enough codes to accurately describe conditions, but not so many that users become bogged down trying to determine which code applies to the situation.

AM collaborated with fellow member utilities of the North American Transmission Forum to develop the new problem code system, which focuses on substation assets. The system correlates specific types of equipment component problems to codes vetted and agreed upon by industry partners who own and operate similar types of equipment. This “common language” will aid WAPA and other utilities in identifying asset performance trends and mitigating potential risks.

Spreading the data

Being able to turn data into accessible, user-friendly reports is another critical component to the success of an asset management program. Asset data is only useful in mitigating risk when offices and departments throughout an organization are able to easily understand and apply the analyses to their functional areas.

Asset reports are usually produced in spreadsheets and other tabular-type data, which is not conducive to easy interpretation by end users. AM will continue to explore tools to produce better visual data in 2020. Expanding the use of WAPA’s graphical information system and leveraging other reporting systems will help to increase the use of AM data beyond its current audience. 

In the utility industry, effective risk management means looking beyond one organization’s assets to collaborate, share data and seek proactive solutions to evolving threats. As the AM program matures, it will continue to provide WAPA and its customers with data and analysis that supports a robust and secure grid delivering reliable, affordable power. 

Note: Storie is a technical writer who works under the Wyandotte Services contract.

Last modified on March 6th, 2024