Transmission asset owners can make better-informed decisions when they understand the performance of similar assets applied in the field. For example, if there were a pattern of failures with one asset family, make, or model, utilities could plan to inspect similar assets or schedule them for replacement.
The challenge, however, is that individual transmission asset owners have so few failures and a wide array of asset types, making it difficult to derive meaningful inferences. If utilities could combine their asset information with industry-level data, they would be able to make more informed asset management decisions.
In 1998, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) started collecting from its member utilities information about failures and the installed asset base. Data schemas were developed for each asset type by subject matter experts so that the data could be appropriately analyzed to inform decisions. The result: a living industry database containing the details of individual assets, failed and in-service.
Today, the Industrywide Transmission Asset Failure and Performance Database (IDB) has an online interface where EPRI members from around the world can contribute and manage their utility’s data as well as benchmark their performance against industry averages. In addition, the online interface allows a predefined range of analytics to be performed.
Progress, Results & Next Steps
The database currently focuses on 15 asset types. For some assets, there is both in-service and removed-from-service information; for other assets, only failure information is included due to the nature of the asset.
More than 83 EPRI-member transmission utilities have submitted to the database. To date, there are more than 181,000 records in the database, of which more than 35,000 units were removed from service or failed.
In 2017, EPRI entered into a collaboration agreement with the North American Transmission Forum (NATF) with the goal of increasing submissions to the database. The collaboration focused initially on power transformers and resulted in the number of collected units increasing from 45,000 to 64,000. The next thrust will be on circuit breakers, which presently stand at 61,000 in-service and 12,000 ex-service.
In addition, EPRI has been developing statistical tools to enable utilities to use the data to inform their asset management programs. Two examples are methods to evaluate spare strategies and to estimate replacement needs.
How to Use the Research
EPRI- and NATF-member utilities can access the database at idb.epri.com using their EPRI login credentials. In addition, the EPRI team performs regular analyses of the database and provides the information to both EPRI members and the NATF membership.
EPRI is also conducting demonstration projects where it applies statistical tools to specific utility fleets, leveraging the IDB. The IDB is also used as one of the inputs for EPRI’s asset health tools, such as the Power Transformer Expert System, Polymer Insulator Population Assessment, and Circuit Break Life Management Tool.
How to Get Involved
The key to the success of the IDB and the usefulness of its data is widespread collection of asset information — the more information included in the database, the greater the benefit to transmission owners and operators. Transmission companies are urged to submit data so that the entire industry can make better decisions, and utilities should consider working with EPRI to use advanced statistical tools to grow their in-house asset management intelligence.