​Operational Excellence

Operational Excellence

We use a range of modern systems and technologies to keep our network safe and operating efficiently for all our employees, contractors and customers. These have evolved over time and are now embedded as core parts of how we manage our assets and deliver all of our work programmes.

We continually challenge ourselves to improve these systems and processes and to embrace developing technologies to increase efficiency and deliver value to our customers.

Safety First

While we improve our systems and processes through the deployment of technology, the delivery of a safe network for our customers and staff, and the safe management of all who work on or near to the electricity network will always underpin our activities. 

We will continue to deploy mobile technology to make work delivery faster and safer, and we will ensure that the systems that monitor and control our network are developed to the highest international standards to support our customer needs in particular to deliver flexibility, resilience and enhanced public safety.

Each customer and component of our distribution network has geographical location and associated data. A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a convenient and powerful way of managing and utilising this geospatial data. It is a critical enabler for a number of regulated business processes including Operations, Construction Programme Management, Asset Management and Investment Planning activities in order to efficiently manage our network. 

Our previous GIS solutions had reached end-of-life, were losing vendor support and were beginning to pose a risk to the delivery of these core functions. The purpose of the GIS Upgrade project was to implement a single new, state-of-the-art, GIS solution and integrate it with the existing ESB Networks IT landscape. 

The new GIS went live in June 2016 and required close partnership with external Irish, UK, European, American and Indian teams from Hexagon, IMGS, Oracle Utilities and Rolta. The new system improves safety for both the general public and ESB Networks staff. In particular, through the provision of an enhanced operational data model which is critical for centralised network control and safe operation of the network. It also allows for improved customer information in relation to Dial Before You Dig requests and the provision of electrical underground network information. Finally, the provision of an industry standard and expanded GIS data model (including the MPRN dataset) is essential to the development of a smart distribution network that economically supports the requirements of our customers in the future. 

The current ABB NM3 (Network Manager 3) went live in January 2010. It is the means through which communication with over 650 HV substations and 3,000 downline devices is managed. SCADA is integrated with our OMS (Operations Management System) within a highly secure environment to give ESB Networks advanced distribution management system capability. It is also linked to the TSO EMS (Energy Management System) using ICCP (Inter Control Centre Protocol). Over the last 7 years since NM3 went into service the amount of monitored points on the network has doubled. Construction of new substations with SCS (Substation Control System) technology, replacement of electromechanical protection relays with electronic relays, and the roll out of fibre and digital polling radio communications media have increased the amount of data that is being fed into the SCADA system. This trend is going to continue over the coming years.

In 2018 this system will be replaced with a new version of the ABB system which will have:          

  • Enhanced security        
  • Increased capability to monitor and control a larger number of devices       
  • Enhanced performance        
  • Enhanced disaster recovery and resilience        
  • Enhanced emergency functionality and flexibility        
  • Combination of physical and virtualised hardware         
  • Enhanced analogue signalling capability to allow set points to be issued to network devices


The project will be delivered with no downtime to the existing system and will run for a number of months in parallel with the existing system before going live in 2019.

ESB Networks has fundamentally reviewed its Control Centre Infrastructure and Architecture and has moved to a single National Distribution Control Centre (DCC) model. There is an Emergency DCC in place at present which needs to be upgraded given the move towards a single DCC. The Emergency DCC must have all of the same functionality and resilience as the primary DCC. The Emergency DCC also has a regular set of test shifts and simulations that are used as both training exercises and to operate the live system. The current Emergency DCC has limited Operator work stations and needs to be housed in a larger and more resilient location.

The Emergency DCC will be relocated from its existing location to a secure Dublin location in 2018. This will involve Communications, SCADA hardware and physical infrastructure development to provide the same functionality in a remote location from the primary DCCThe Emergency DCC location will be physically, electrically and data secure with sophisticated standby generation, UPS and air conditioning systems in place. The final stage of this project will result in the relocation of the SCADA disaster recovery system into the Emergency DCC. 

ESB Networks has an extensive annual work programme to deliver in line with the five year regulatory programme agreed with the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER). This programme consists of a range of activities, including safety programmes, maintenance programmes, capital replacement programmes and large infrastructural development projects. 

There are currently a number of systems managing the delivery of these programmes – from the concept through to completion. This initiative is to review how best to manage and the deliver the agreed work programmes and projects across all stakeholders, on a more centralised platform. It will examine the best standards of Programme Management with a view to improved coordination of the delivery of the agreed work programmes and projects to optimise delivery.  

The nature of the work in ESB Networks requires a large number of its staff to be “field” based working away from the office. The majority of staff working away from the office are Network Technicians (NT’s) who are carrying out work on different sites and in different locations throughout the day. Traditionally these staff have been unconnected to the internal IT system.

It is a key priority for ESB Networks to enable NT’s to access their work schedules, safety documentation, policies and procedures, site maps etc remotely in order to carry out their work safely, effectively and efficiently. To date, ESB Networks has provided mobile devices to staff to address the above.  One of the key areas that the operational excellence roadmap concentrates on is the provision of mobile applications for staff working remotely. We have created an ESB Networks app store where staff can download apps that will help them to do their jobs. The following are some of the mobile applications currently in planning or development which will allow staff to be more efficient and improve safety while out on site.

  • Network Mapping Mobile App – giving an up to date view of the overhead and underground electricity network from 10kV up to 400kV.          
  • OMS Mobile App – will allow crews to view the live status of the network in their area as well as probable fault locations and number of outages on an electronic map.          
  • Meridian Site Mobile App – giving access to the 124,000 drawings / designs of our network.        
  • OneSource Mobile App – contains all of the up to date policies, company standards, procedures, guides, restrictions & alerts for staff to access while on site. 
  • Mobilising Enterprising Systems – an end user platform for staff to enter data for our large corporate enterprise systems which can then be updated in the backend database without the user needing to know any data entry rules.

As well as a robust suite of mobile applications for ESB Networks staff it is also a priority to look at other ways in which we can digitise our workforce and our ways of working. New technologies can also be utilised to ensure we are putting the safety of our staff and the public at the forefront of everything we do.

Key technologies include:        

  • Bluetooth Headsets for NT’s      
  • Seek Thermal Camera       
  • V.ALRT S.O.S. Fob for Lone Workers         
  • e-learning on Mobile Devices        
  • ESB Networks Work Scheduler  
  • Augmented Reality for Power Systems

ESB Networks owns and maintains one of the largest fleet in Ireland. Ensuring the safety of our staff using these vehicles is of huge importance to ESB Networks. There are a number of ongoing projects looking at the latest technologies and advances in fleet management.

Key technologies:         

  • Electrification of Networks fleet        
  • Next Generation Fleet Telematics        
  • Dashcams      
  • Storage Replacement Standby     
  • Transport Management (TranMan) Mobile Workshop