T&D, Transmission, Wind

Case Study EPC Company Designs Substations 40 Percent Faster With Bentley Substation Solution

Issue 7 and Volume 20.

by Victor Alvarez, Bentley Systems

A fast-growing engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company that provides turnkey solutions for utility transmission and distribution and high-power testing labs is designing electric substations 40 percent faster using Bentley software.

Power Transmission Corp. of Uttarakhand, India, retained iSAT Network Engineers to develop a 132-kV substation with a total capacity of 80 million volt-amperes in the capital of Dehradun.

ISAT employed a new approach for the 114.4 million Indian Rupee project that unified physical, electrical and structural substation design with Bentley’s integrated applications. The Bentley Substation solution enabled the use of intelligent models that increased cross-discipline collaboration, reduced revisions 60 percent, improved the quality of cost estimates and accelerated the overall design process by 40 percent.

Traditional Design Process Hindered Efficiency

“Traditionally, designs for substations in India were being produced as 2-D plans without having any built-in intelligence,” said Manoj Pal, senior manager for projects and service at iSAT Network Engineers. “This made the design process complex, often requiring numerous revisions before arriving at the final plans.”

The complexity made it difficult to visualize the designs and impaired the project team’s ability to check clearances, detect clashes and resolve interferences. The 2-D design approach also made generating bills of materials a time-consuming, error-prone manual task that often took hours or days. As a result, when plans were implemented at the construction site, there were typically numerous and expensive change orders, project arbitrations and delays.

The traditional structural design process also was inefficient, with disconnected work flows that required manual, paper-based coordination with the electrical and physical substation designs. These inefficiencies would be particularly problematic on the Dehradun substation project. ISAT faced designing the substation to operate safely and efficiently in an earthquake-prone region where equipment support structures and foundations must comply with India’s earthquake-resistant design code (IS 1893). Moreover, the structures would experience additional loads from hostile weather such as high winds and extreme precipitation.

“To successfully design this project,” Pal said, “we needed a comprehensive solution that would simultaneously help in electrical design and substation structural design.”

Integrated Design Solution

To overcome the challenges associated with its traditional substation design approach and enable concurrent and coordinated cross-discipline design, iSAT used a portion of the Bentley Substation solution: an integrated set of software applications that accelerate design, improve constructability and reduce the operating costs of electric substations.

The solution enabled iSAT to perform integrated 2-D electrical and 3-D physical substation design in Bentley Substation and substation structural design analysis in STAAD.Pro. An integrated work flow between the products, enabled by Bentley’s Structural Synchronizer, allowed 3-D physical models from Bentley Substation to be used in STAAD.Pro and structural models created in STAAD.Pro to be used in the Bentley Substation layouts. This sharing of intelligent models eliminated duplicate work, design inconsistencies and inefficient paper-based collaboration.

Benefits of Intelligent Electrical, Physical Design

The software allowed iSAT to unify substation layout and protection and control design on a single application. With Bentley Substation, iSAT could focus its attention on the construction of an intelligent substation model rather than a set of 2-D drawings that are difficult to create, update and coordinate. The intelligent model is built through the creation of a 3-D substation layout, which supports the development of 2-D electrical schematics that are linked and cross-referenced to the physical layout to enable concurrent physical and electrical engineering. In addition, 2-D construction drawings are created automatically and updated from the 3-D layout, eliminating hours of manual drafting while improving the quality of construction deliverables.

The intelligent model also enabled iSAT to increase the speed and accuracy of reporting, eliminate errors and accelerate approvals. Unlike graphics-only 2-D drawings created with traditional CAD-centric design, intelligent 3-D substation layouts are composed of objects that possess properties of the equipment they represent, the wiring connections they support, and the engineering principles that govern design. Every object is linked to a parts database, enabling the automatic and accurate generation of bills of material, purchase order lists, job cost estimates, wire lists and other reports. Built-in error checking made possible by the intelligent model enabled iSAT to detect and report conditions including short circuits, duplicate wire numbers and missing part numbers.

“Bentley Substation also enabled us to create intuitive 3-D layouts, which made it easier to execute clash detection and clearance checking,” Pal said. “The 3-D layouts, which were much easier to visualize, quickened the process of plan submissions and approvals and enabled us to arrive at final plans in less time with a fewer number of revisions.”

Integrating Structural Analysis to Enable Concurrent Engineering

One requirement was that the electrical equipment (cable bus, rigid bus, strain bus conductors, switches, surge arresters, insulators and more) was supported properly by steel structures and their foundations. Using STAAD.Pro, iSAT accurately analyzed and designed for static and dynamic loads (including seismic accelerations, wind, rainfall and snow) in accordance with the applicable steel design codes and standards, as well as India’s seismic design code. STAAD.Pro’s seamless integration with Bentley Substation allowed project team members to undertake concurrent engineering to eliminate errors and accelerate project delivery.

3-D Modeling Reduces Revisions, Change Orders

“The 3-D substation models were used to detect clashes and interferences before the designs were signed off,” Pal said. “This reduced the number of revisions required to arrive at final plans by 60 percent.”

In addition, automated reporting increased the accuracy and speed of material quantity estimation. Previously, hours or days were spent on manual material takeoff from stand-alone products, causing errors that led to change orders during construction that each could cost hundreds of thousands of Indian Rupees. With more accurate final plans and documentation, iSAT avoided many of these expensive construction change orders.

The Bentley Substation solution reduced the time required to arrive at the final plans by 40 percent. ISAT attributes this achievement to being able to perform simultaneous design and consistent modeling across structural, physical layout and electrical disciplines. The software saved iSAT some 20 man-days in completing the design and quantity estimation. As a result, the overall design was completed ahead of schedule, yet still met the two most important requirements: safety and system reliability.


Victor Alvarez is senior manager of applications advantage at Bentley Systems where his responsibilities include the company’s utilities, communications, electrical and mining product lines. Alvarez has a Master of Science in Systems Architecture and Engineering from the University of Southern California and an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.