Western Power – Transmission Asset Refurbishment and Intervention Program

Summary of the project, product, framework

Due to a step change in the way Western Power (WP) collected, analysed and displayed our asset condition data it became very evident that we were faced with a looming crisis in the Transmission asset fleet based on the juxtaposition between asset age and condition.

A replacement program to correct this would be economically prohibitive, and impractical based on time to execute and limited access to the transmission network. Instead, a more detailed and holistic approach was required, one that reduced risk by utilising all the tools in the asset management toolkit in conjunction.

Description of project or framework addressing the assessment criteria

Power Transformers

In the space of a few weeks, through intensive cross functional and inter-departmental cooperation, the following list of actions was assembled; much of which is already passing into the planning and execution stages:

  1. A complex transformer criticality rating covering load size, customer relative importance and network redundancy; complemented by a comprehensive condition rating with a clear understanding of actual condition and forecast remnant life.
  2. A transformer replacement program covering the last 3.5 years of our regulatory period, and then ramping up significantly in the following period
  3. A targeted in field transformer refurbishment program designed to sustain the worst condition assets until such time as replacement is due
  4. A comprehensive strategic spares holding and maintenance strategy; which also includes increasing the number of substations where we can deploy rapid response transformers for run to failure scenarios.


As in many other areas switchboard condition management is another area where asset performance is squeezed on between aging and deteriorating assets on one hand, and reduced availability of capital and increasing costs on the other. Western Power found itself in this situation when facing poor asset condition issues in CBD switchboards compounded by other spending priorities.

Taking inspiration from utility industry practices adopted throughout the UK in the wake of RIIO-ED1 network price control published by industry regulator OFGEM, WP began scouring the market for alternatives to wholesale switchboard replacement that would meet our requirements in costs and time while restoring the assets resistance to failure to a new or near-new state.

They quickly uncovered new information of methods and capabilities in the marketplace to replace and refurbish vital components within the switchboard, restoring it to a condition where it would be able to meet the rigours of ongoing operations, plus the added stresses of future network optimisation works.

A cross functional team of all major engineering functions, as well as the execution functions was established, and within months had created the opportunity for a detailed inspection and review of the assets by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), and some of the technicians involved in manufacturing switchboards of this type.

The result was a capability to refurbish these switchboards, increasing the cost effectiveness of our capital spending, reducing our risks of unplanned failure within a far shorter time and increasing the reach of limited capital funds.

Opinion as to specific contribution made by the nominated individual/team/organisation

The ripple effect from this is driving new ways of working throughout the organisation:

  • placing stretch targets on the CAPEX discrete planning capability;
  • adding more substance to the long-term planning capability;
  • driving new ways of commercially engaging with the market;
  • challenging the ongoing maintenance teams; and
  • providing the organisation with the beginnings of a substation level “playbook” to be evoked in case of failure or indications of looming failure.

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