Last Word Opinions

Look as far ahead as you can see

I will never forget the moment when I got for the first time behind the steering wheel of a car to take my first driving lesson many, many years ago. My driving instructor turned to me and said: “The most important thing to do when driving is not to look just in front of the car, but to look as far ahead as you can see.”

This is something that can be applied to every aspect of our personal and professional lives and it definitely applies to the standardization of protection, automation and control systems as well.

In the early stages of my career, when I was learning about protection, I realized that the company I was working for had developed a philosophy for implementing specific types of protection schemes for specific types of applications – a standard protection philosophy. This was about 50 years ago, and it was at the early stages of the use of personal computers in electric utilities and associated institutions.

Since I was interested in many different things, I needed to limit the amount of time that was required to do some of the routine jobs that were given to me – for example defining the protection and control system of a new distribution substation. I already realized that we were using a standard solution for all these installations, so I developed a small program where I would enter the required capabilities of the power transformers and the number of distribution feeders, and my little software would automatically generate the documentation for the project in less than a minute. This is when I first realized how beneficial is standardization – I invested several hours to write the code, but later it saved me days of routine work when using it.

It is true that it takes some time to do research and try different designs in an effort to develop a standard protection and control scheme and to select the devices to be used in it, but once you do it, once you invest in it, then it becomes an issue of just reusing the design that you have generated and produce multiple instances of the same bay or substation with a verified and error free functionality.

This is what it means to look as far as you can see – not just to think that you need to invest in developing something that is not going to bring you immediate benefits, but will benefit you significantly in the long run. Therefore, I will repeat “Look as far ahead as you can see!”