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Pacific Gas & Electric Brownfield Substation Project Benefits from Reality Modeling


Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) owns and operates more than 1,000 transmission and distribution substations, spanning two-thirds of California and reaching 5.2 million homes. After a successful implementation of Bentley Substation in 2010, PG&E turned to Bentley as it searched for a method to take existing brownfield substation infrastructure and create 3D models.

I met with Tyrone Kneller, manager, substation engineering with Pacific Gas & Electric, about the project and asked him how Bentley applications improved its efficiency.

Christine Byrne:  PG&E’s Substation Engineering Department used Bentley reality modeling applications to create 3D models that can be designed in conjunction with new 3D designs on substation retrofitting projects.  Can you tell me about the process of manually converting 2D drawings to 3D models on your Brownfield Location Project?

Tyrone Kneller:  In the past, we used to take the 2D models, and would have to physically draw the 3D designs on the projects, which can take weeks, if not months, to accomplish. Then, we would design the three-piece model that they were going to attach to it. Now, with ContextCapture, my engineers go out and, in a day or so, take a bunch of pictures. They drop them into the mesh, and now we're able to do our 3D design with ContextCapture and Bentley Substation.


CB: PG&E’s team used Bentley’s ContextCapture to process UAV imagery, reducing the cost of substation modeling by 50 percent and the time to produce the 3D models by one-third. What other benefits did you see from using Bentley's applications, including ContextCapture, Bentley Substation, and ProjectWise, on this project?

TK:  With ContextCapture we could do in less than a week what would take us a month, saving millions of dollars in the size of a portfolio that we were working on.  

Bentley Substation allowed our team to reference the accurate 3D models while ProjectWise let the team create one source of information in a centralized location, which could be shared among the design teams.

PG&E plans to continue this time-saving process for all its existing substations, allowing teams to identify and categorize substation assets for condition-based maintenance substation asset inventories.

For more details, watch the PG&E video presentation.

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