by Barry Grib, DHG Engineers

The growing need for reliable power supply has increased the demand for aging substation infrastructure redevelopment and driven new substation implementation into crowded cities and other demanding locations.

Utilities seeking to effectively respond to the myriad substation challenges can benefit significantly from digitalisation and applications that address the interdependencies of the many disciplines and workflows involved in designing and upgrading substations. Digital engineering models, intelligent 2D electrical and 3D physical substation models, can help utilities save time and money in the planning, design, and construction phases of the substation lifecycle.

Advancing substation infrastructure

These models also support operations and maintenance (O&M) teams in forecasting problems and improving asset performance through the convergence of information, operational, and engineering technologies. Bentley’s Be Inspired Awards Programme annually recognises the world’s most outstanding infrastructure projects.

The projects are submitted by Bentley’s software users and judged by a jury of independent experts who adhere to the highest standards in determining which of the projects exemplify innovation, superior vision, and an unwavering commitment to exceptional quality and productivity. One such project is Sidwadwa 66/11 kV Substation, developed by Aurecon.

Aurecon was hired to bolster the capacity of the substation that generates power to the municipality of Mthatha, South Africa and to enhance sustainable electricity to the region. The existing substation’s configuration, including adjacent oil-filled equipment and firewalls to high-voltage equipment and overhead power lines, posed fire risk and electrical clearance issues.

Aurecon needed to reconfigure the arrangement of the substation and meet electrical clearance standards. The organisation utilised 3D modelling applications to virtually modify the arrangement of the substation. They also employed a collaborative design methodology with Bentley applications, producing precise 3D models with Bentley Substation.

These realistic visualisations included distances from the substation structures to the overhead lines as well as the ability to adjust the layout to compensate for inaccurate electrical clearances.

In addition, the team designed the oil spillage and drainage areas to mitigate fire risk. Aurecon moved equipment to different positions, experimented with different supports, and analysed numerous design scenarios within a short time.

This capability minimised risk and optimised returns on investment. A comprehensive model was created by importing the 3D CAD-designed platform and drainage system into Bentley’s integrated modelling platform. Bentley mobile applications were used on site to confirm constructability and accuracy of design measurements and track construction progress and ensure all on-site team members received the most up-to-date information.

Aurecon reduced substation design time by 50%, compared to traditional 2D design, by implementing Bentley’s 3D modelling solution.

The organisation was also able to produce more accurate component lists, which allowed the team to reach the tender phase within three months of the project’s start date.

Bentley applications enhanced Aurecon’s collaboration and information mobility, enabling them to reduce overall project costs and use the Bentley 3D model throughout the construction phase of this project.

Project summary

The ZAR 50 million project required Aurecon to improve the capacity of the municipality’s substation and increase the reliability of sustainable electricity supply to customers. The close proximity of the oilfilled equipment and firewalls in relation to high-voltage equipment and overhead power lines posed a high fire risk in the event of an oil spill, and electrical clearance issues. To optimise equipment arrangement and meet electrical clearance standards, Aurecon needed accurate 3D modelling tools that allowed the team to virtually adjust the substation layout, easily and efficiently.

Solution

Aurecon implemented an integrated design approach using Bentley Substation to produce accurate 3D images detailing direct distances from the substation structures to the overhead lines. The 3D model provided a realistic visualisation allowing Aurecon to adjust the layout to compensate for incorrect electrical clearances, and design the oil spillage and drainage areas for a more effective containment and drainage system to minimise fire risk.

Outcome

Using Bentley Substation, ProjectWise WorkSite, and Navigator Mobile, Aurecon reduced substation design time by 50% compared to traditional 2D design, while producing more accurate component lists, enabling the team to reach the tender phase within three months of the project start date. The reuse of existing foundations and steel supports combined with Bentley Substation’s ability to model equipment on existing foundations minimised onsite rework and demolition of steelwork and foundations, and reduced overall project costs.

Software

The unique modelling capability to change points of view in Bentley Substation enabled Aurecon to move equipment to different positions, experiment with different supports, and analyse numerous design scenarios within a short time, minimising risk and optimising ROI. Importing the 3D CAD-designed platform and drainage system into Bentley’s collaborative modelling environment allowed Aurecon to produce a comprehensive model. The complete design was exported into an i-model to be used on-site in Navigator Mobile to confirm constructability and accuracy of design measurements, and track construction progress.

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