ESB Networks has won an international award for its geographic information system, which manages and maintains all assets to optimise performance and support safety improvements. ESB's Adrienne Behan looks at the challenges overcome in developing the new system
Tech

In Anaheim, California, on 15 June 2016 at Hexagon’s annual conference, Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure presented ESB Networks, Halton Regional Police Service and Madhya Pradesh Police with Icon Awards for their visionary use of software to significantly benefit their customers, citizens and communities. The Icon Awards are Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure’s highest customer award.

“We’re proud to partner with industry leaders,” said Steven Cost, president, Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure. “They represent the best in innovation-led customer and community service. It’s my great honour to present these leading organisations with our Icon Award.”

In the year 2000, ESB Networks (ESBN) became the distribution system operator (DSO) with the responsibility of operating, maintaining and developing the distribution system in the Republic of Ireland. The organisation relied heavily on a highly bespoke geographic information system (GIS) to meet the specific, daily workflows required by its users.

Image bankWhile it served the company well for years, the 25-year-old system was no longer supported and was hosted on ageing IT infrastructure. From about 2014 on, these legacy technologies began to pose real risk to the delivery of the company’s core business functions and services due to their age. A new enterprise GIS solution that could manage the full lifecycle of their network was needed.

The GIS system is fundamental to managing, maintaining and operating all assets and supporting improvements in safety, facilitating smarter investment decisions, and optimising asset performance. Safety of the public and staff and reliability of the networks are of key importance to ESBN. ESBN is unique in the level of above-ground networks it has, with more than two million wooden poles connecting rural customers. This is more than four times what is typical for other electricity service providers. The safe operation and management of these networks can be a real challenge during the very windy and wet weather typical of Ireland and, in particular, the Atlantic coast.

The challenge faced by the organisation was that the IT solution had to be a single platform with multiple views providing schematic and geographic information of the three voltage levels controlled by ESB Networks. It had to support the specific and highly complex workflows of the company and also be capable of expanding and enhancing functionality to futureproof the business requirements.

Challenges and costs of large IT infrastructure projects


In an undertaking of this magnitude, cost can be a real challenge, while still delivering a successful product. The GIS upgrade project was a substantial part of the ESB vision for the delivery of a solution that militates against business risk and also provides improved capabilities to satisfy business requirements.

“We’re a regulated monopoly so value for money for our customers is an issue for us. We’re constantly looking for improved efficiencies,” said Marguerite Sayers, managing director ESB Networks.

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The complex system built by the project teams. Products are listed on the top with the interfaces to other systems on the bottom. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

The ESBN GIS project was initiated to replace, enhance and extend three legacy ESBN mapping-based applications. The replacement solution was an Intergraph G/Technology based solution with an Oracle Spatial Database. The solution was a complex infrastructure, with multiple interfaces, to futureproof the maintenance of ESB’s Electrical Network model and hosted on the ESB Corporate Infrastructure.

The key deliverables were:

  • The replacement of three legacy ESBN mapping-based applications: GeoDART a CAD design tool; DFIS, the core modeling system; and FRAMME WebView, a browser and viewer for staff, with an enhanced single vendor solution;
  • The replacement and enhancement of the legacy interface between the GIS and ESB Networks Operations Management System (OMS);
  • The replacement and enhancement of the legacy interface between the GIS and SynerGEE, ESB Networks planning application;
  • The replacement and enhancement of the legacy interface between the GIS and ARM, ESB Networks Asset Registration and Maintenance management solution (SAP ERP);
  • The replacement and enhancement of the legacy interface between the GIS and IWM (Work Order Level management);
  • Integration of the GIS solution with SAP IS-U (locate and display of customer meter points);
  • Integration of the GIS solution with ESB Networks Telecoms GIS, ConnectMaster (linear data only);
  • Deployment of solution on ESB’s corporate shared IT infrastructure consisting of Cisco Gigabit Ethernet network layer, a SAN with IBM XIV storage arrays, VMware ESXi virtualisation infrastructure and Citrix XenApp presentation server.

Image bankThe new system is used by approximately 1,000 staff members across the ESB businesses. The solution is primarily used by ESBN staff such as engineering officers, network technicians and IT specialists, and others engaged in data capture and validation, customer service and operational management. Other business users include technical staff members in ESB Telecoms Ltd and ESB International.

Working with Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure and Hexagon’s partner Irish Mapping and GIS Solutions (IMGS) Ltd, ESB Networks implemented a new GIS built upon Hexagon’s Intergraph G/Technology to support the planning, design, construction and day-to-day operations of its electricity distribution network. The Hexagon software serves as a single enterprise solution for the full life-cycle management of ESB Networks’ network assets, improving workflow efficiencies and integrating seamlessly with other business-critical systems.

“Our GIS system and our relationship with Hexagon are core to making sure that we can deliver on the promise we make to our customers,” said Sayers.

Benefits of ESBN GIS solution


This GIS solution feeds into the outage management system, allowing personnel to visually see where their network resides and better plan, design, build, maintain and manage day-to-day jobs for field crews. By interfacing with other business-critical corporate systems, the system ensures a geographical and electrically connected model that supports business decisions.

With the new solution, network data can be accessed simultaneously at ESB Network’s 34 different office locations across Ireland and all records of work done now display live in the outage management system within 24 hours of the changes being made on the ground. Networks now have a world-class infrastructure in place to support continuing economic development in a country that has one of the highest growing economies in Europe.

ESB Networks is putting the ‘Information of Everything’ to work – in this case, enabling the organisation to seamlessly manage the full lifecycle of its network assets.

But it is not stopping there. ESBN is in the final stages of developing an integrated solution for a new public-facing web application for industry and the public to make requests for information on lines and cable locations. It is also exploring using the new technology to support access for use in the field when a staff member is both online and offline.

esb-gis-system

Pictured L-R, Stephen Cost president Hexagon S&I, John Gallagher and Adrienne Behan ESB Networks and Max Weber EMEA senior VP, Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure

Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure provides mission-critical and business-critical solutions to governments and service providers They are part of Hexagon (Nasdaq Stockholm: HEXAB; hexagon.com), a leading global provider of information technologies that drive productivity and quality across geospatial and industrial enterprise applications.

For More information on Hexagon and Hexagon Live 2016 visit www.hexagonsafetyinfrastructure.com.

Adrienne Behan job is a data and business information manager for ESB Networks. She was project manager of the GIS project from vendor selection to post go live transition to support. She has been with ESB Networks for 30 years and began her career as an apprentice electrician. After eight years of field work she moved into the asset management side of the business. While there, Behan was part of the team that transitioned the business from paper maps and designs to the use of CAD (computer aided design) tool and GIS (geographical information systems) for recording out networks and schematics. She was instrumental in the conversion of all paper maps to the GIS systems, training of designers in the use of the CAD tool and eventually setting up and implementing business processes to support the systems and workflows.

https://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/ESB-GIS-system-FEAT-1024x683.jpghttps://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/ESB-GIS-system-FEAT-300x300.jpgDavid O'RiordanTechawards,energy,ESB,infrastructure,Ireland,safety,software
In Anaheim, California, on 15 June 2016 at Hexagon’s annual conference, Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure presented ESB Networks, Halton Regional Police Service and Madhya Pradesh Police with Icon Awards for their visionary use of software to significantly benefit their customers, citizens and communities. The Icon Awards are Hexagon Safety...