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The Secret Source of Asset Management file-based test data for Utilities

A significant amount of data from specialized inspections and tests resides in file-based data sources in utilities. The reason why these sources persist is obvious – file-based data is portable and field tests and inspections, by their very nature, require portability.

In addition, these field activities are sometimes executed by contracted third parties using their own test systems.

Examples include:

  • Transformer tests and sweep frequency response analysis (SFRA)
  • Breaker tests
  • Protection tests
  • Pole and tower inspections
  • Substation inspections

The primary application of the inspection and test activities is to identify out of limit equipment conditions and to initiate corrective maintenance – either on the spot or once the data files make their way back to office-based engineers for review. Files are subsequently stored and only analyzed again as part of specific investigations.

When it comes to network and asset performance management, however, this data can be an absolute treasure trove of historical time series samples to support asset and asset health related analytics. The problem: it’s file-based. There’s no single source, there’s literally thousands of sources.

Xtensible has worked with several clients to establish a structured data repository and ingest test and inspection data sourced from a divergent file-based sources. The unique challenges we address when dealing specifically with file-based sources tend to fall into two key areas.

Assets take on different identities

While asset management systems carry unique identifiers for assets, that master data is usually not available to field personnel. Moreover, identifying data often goes into free-text fields, allowing field personnel to basically enter anything. And they do! Uniquely identifying the relevant asset to associate the incoming observations with requires data scrubbing and lots of lookups. In cases where the identity puzzle just cannot be solved, it’s important to log these details and provide a feed-back loop for field and back-office personnel to fix the source data.

Duplication results in confusion

File data is not a controlled data source. There is no unique key constraint to stop multiple files for the same source asset and inspection set to be created with a different name or in a different folder. Moreover, sometimes these files contain partially overlapping content – data that is unique in each file (that needs to be ingested), and data that is duplicated between files (that need to be ingested, but only for one file).

Xtensible has developed a unique ingestion strategy to address these challenges. The results are consistently mind-blowing.

“During a recent project we set up an automated service to ingest test result files from a series of test instruments. The initial data profiling exposed valuable name plate details not carried by the asset management system and also inconsistencies with the test themselves. As we deployed the Xtensible’s 61968 CIM-based FlexModel, our client can now use the same repository to assimilate additional inspection and test data sources with minimal incremental implementation cost and make it available for the enterprise.” says Gustav Brand, Data Architect at Xtensible.

When you can link up network and equipment data with a single, harmonized source of observation data it not only supports specialized asset performance management systems, but also creates opportunities for ad hoc analytics. Engineers and analysts with a little bit of Excel and SQL skills produce extremely valuable insights for their utilities with this data.

Interested in learning more about leveraging file-based test and inspection data sources? Speak to a member of the Xtensible team.

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Xtensible Solutions

Xtensible Solutions