July 9, 2024

Advancing Substation Designs through 3D Modeling

substation with mountains in the background and a blue sky substation with mountains in the background and a blue sky

By Brian Varn, Substation Director

In recent years, the utility industry has witnessed a notable transformation with the growing adoption of 3D design technology. Traditionally reliant on 2D designs, utility companies are now embracing advanced 3D modeling software for its ability to provide detailed and accurate representations of infrastructure, especially substations. In this blog, we will explore the advantages we are experiencing from 3D modeling for our utility clients and how it is revolutionizing substation project design and execution in the industry.

3D Designs for Substation Clearance

The advent of advanced 3D modeling software has sparked a significant shift towards more sophisticated design methods. Across the industry, utility companies are increasingly recognizing the advantages of 3D modeling, leading to its more widespread use. A leading reason for its increased use is its ability to produce more detailed and accurate representations of substation facilities, enabling more efficient clearance detection.

In 2D designs, identifying clearances between different components, such as phase-to-phase and phase-to-ground, can be challenging and time-consuming. However, 3D models provide a clear visual representation of all elements, making it easier to spot and resolve unsafe conditions early in the design process. This proactive approach saves time and reduces the risk of costly rework or project delays.

Automation and Improved Visualization

One of the most significant advantages we have seen with implementing SBS’s 3D modeling software is the automation ability. 3D models can integrate with various software systems to automate numerous design processes. For instance, routine tasks such as conduit layout and bill of material creation can be automated, freeing up our engineers and designers to focus on more complex aspects of the project.

Automation also enhances the accuracy and consistency of our designs. We can ensure our projects meet the highest quality standards by reducing the likelihood of human error. This is particularly important in the utility industry, where even minor mistakes can have significant consequences.

Another benefit we are seeing with 3D designs is improved visualization. The designer can build the substation using virtual parts to see a realistic representation of the final design. This level of detail in the pre-design stage is crucial for identifying potential issues before they arise. This constructed visual allows stakeholders to understand the design and its implications better. Additionally, it is particularly valuable during client presentations and project approvals, as it helps convey complex concepts in an easily digestible format.

Our Commitment to Innovation

We are always looking for innovative ways to improve our services and enhance project outcomes. Implementing innovative 3D modeling software is a strategic move that revolutionizes our design process and offers significant benefits in terms of automation, quality, and overall efficiency. The visual of a 3D design accelerates collaboration among our engineers, designers, and other stakeholders as they easily share and review 3D models. This collaborative approach leads to more cohesive project execution and better outcomes.

Reach out to our power delivery and substation engineering experts to learn more about 3D modeling and how it can help your next utility project.

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About the Author

Brian Varn is a seasoned Electrical Engineer with over two decades of experience in the industry. Currently, Brian is the Director of Substation Engineering at Westwood Professional Services. In this capacity, he oversees the design of electrical substations for utilities, ensuring they meet the highest safety and efficiency standards. Brian is known for his strategic approach to problem-solving, his commitment to innovation, and his dedication to mentoring the next generation of engineers.

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