SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) System

The SCADA is a complex computer system that is operated 24hrs a day to monitor and control the network at all SEC's substations. This system gives the operators information, as though in a pilot's cockpit, on the entire network in the country, and this is monitored and controlled from a computer Screen.

Through this system, SEC is able to view information on electricity lines - starting from the 400kV and its substations, down to the 11kV lines at the distribution substations. SEC is able to know how much power is flowing and consumed, calculate the total generation, our import power and the condition of all the lines from the substations to all customers. The company is able to monitor this utilising internal communication infrastructure comprising of fibre optics, microwave radios and digital UHF radios. All the above is run with local expertise and our teams are on standby 24hrs.

The monitoring of distribution lines is currently limited to the substation itself, for instance, if an 11kV feeder to town trips, we shall only know that it has tripped and we can restore it, but we do not have further means to know what exactly has caused the trip. This is why customers are greatly encouraged to report hazardous lines since power can be restored at time yet the line might cause danger to the community.

In a number of cases feeder breakers can be restored, but there are cases where they cannot be restored remotely due to the seriousness of the fault that caused them to trip. In this case we are forced to send a technician on site to do it manually which could be starting by resetting lockout alarms on site which we cannot do them remotely for security purposes. In worst cases some faults require that lines be fully patrolled before it can be restored.

The customers are still encouraged to report incidents associated to power outages, which could be in the likes of a car crashing into a pole because such cases cannot be remotely ascertained. The toll free line 800 9000 will assist the operator when getting such valuable information from the public to quickly restore the network.

SCADA Update Phase II (OMS)

The SCADA system configuration is still not over, phase II of IV is underway in Pretoria where our Engineers are doing the OMS (Outage Management System). This is the new component that has not existed before in our previous SCADA systems which we shall pride ourselves about in relation to customer satisfaction. In October 2012 our company will be sending out expects to Pretoria for FAT (Factory Acceptance Tests). Once all is thumbs up then the system will be shipped to the country for site integration. This phase will be expected to be full operational in January 2013.

The main features of the OMS are highlighted below:

  1. This system will get rid of the paper system and SEC195 since it will keep everything on the servers. All customers whether calling the depot or the call Centre will automatically log the call to the right depot from which they will be able to take action. The call taker at the Call Centre will no longer have to call the depot after receiving the calls from the customers.
  2. The customer calling from any of our agents will now be given reference number for any fault reported. If a new fault is reported in an area that is already known to have been off, the system will notify the agent, thus the customer that we already know in your area there is a fault we are working on.
  3. During the most hard times for our agents, an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) will later be introduced where customers will be automatically be identified by their numbers and the correct massage given to them depending on their circumstances. If a call is from a known fault all those customers affected will be told so and there will be no need, for example, to log a fault for them. If not so the system will redirect the affected customer to the right place for his problem.
  4. For all calls made by the customer there will be defined time when they will be approximately be resolved. If such a time passes the operators will be given an alarm that a reported fault has not been attended to. This means there will be no faults that will be forgotten by the system operators.
  5. This phase as well will provide the operators the ability to record all the critical information discovered during the faults such that each an every customer, transformer, etc can then be interrogated of its history. This kind of data will assist our Distribution engineers to have scientific data for incidents taking place in the network. Gone will be the days when institutional memory will determine which areas are problematic. Our capital budgets will now be motivated with accurate data.
  6. The dispatchers at the depot will have a cool time to know exactly how many customers are out of power and where at any particular time. All customers whose details are well entered in the system, the system will initiate a call back to confirm the position of supply once the power has been restored.
  7. Sensitive customers like the Hospitals, etc will be identified by the system and the dispatchers will be given a special warning to prioritise such incidents.

All the above events will be available in reports which will be accessible by the relevant departments. Other reports that are critical will be:

  • System performance will now be measured for all the regions. This means we shall know exactly how many minutes our customers would have been out of power. This kind of data will be available per feeder for all the substations, thus the depots.
  • The system shall in time collect and provide data to meet requirements that could be specified by the regulator. This will improve the standard of our overall performance in the country.
  • Management from the comfort of their offices will be able to draw relevant data from the reports provided by the system.

All the above information will require that all the departments relating to customers, to capture customer information correctly otherwise garbage in garbage out. At the moment the OMS system is already updated daily by the billing, Prepaid and the GIS systems for all our customer data. The cooperation of all the relevant departments will be for the great success of the projects. Every month all the stakeholders meet once for the project update.