SA Power Networks successfully converted and migrated CAD drawings by using a Machine Learning Algorithm (MLA), making it the first organisation to successfully implement an automated project of this nature. The utility’s commitment to improving its operations through innovations in technology was recognised with the Best Use of New Technology award at the 2018 Digital Utility Awards.

SA Power Networks has been rationalising applications across its departments to manage design drawings. This resulted in a project that involved the decommissioning of two separate major systems which would lead to greater efficiencies and collaboration across departments from initial design through to as-built mark-ups and outputs into the GIS related system.

The project involved the conversion of over 6000 PDF files of native CAD drawings to AutoCAD drawing format and migration of over 60,000 Native CAD drawing files from Windchill Drawing Management System to Autodesk Vault Drawing Management System, including all historical information and version histories.

Market research and analysis that was conducted found that no organisation had implemented a project of this type through an automated process as of February 2018.

Jason Anthony, IT Portfolio Manager at SA Power Networks, said, “A manual or semi-automated process meant very high implementation cost, lengthy project duration (thousands of man-hours), high rate of human errors, loss of productivity and more re-work. This meant we had to explore new technologies and processes which led us to using the MLA for a fully automated process.”

The digital solution

SA Power Networks partnered with A2K Technologies to develop a smart Machine Learning Algorithm (MLA) to convert and migrate CAD Drawings through an automated process.

A MLA that acted like a Facial Recognition System had to be developed to recognise the drawings, their data and characteristics, and deliver a certified drawing with Autodesk entities represented correctly and accurately.

“Most challenges were with interaction between the two vendor systems where we were limited to the vendor’s technology and IP,” Mr Anthony said.

“As such, data extraction, interpretation and export was complex. We had to constantly program (train) the MLA to work with changing scenarios. Our agile project methodology had a significant effect in delivering the project.”

Through the MLA, SA Power Networks was able to successfully convert files from two separate sources into intelligent CAD drawings and migrate files into the Autodesk Vault with full relationship and file metadata intact.

Mr Anthony said the benefits of the project included cost reductions in software licences and improved collaboration and processes between departments.

“After seeing the success and efficiencies of this project, we have had other departments in the company contact IT to explore the use of MLA in their projects. MLA is an emerging technology that can be used to resolve complex problems in a project or process,” Mr Anthony said.

SA Power Networks identified outcomes as the first successful project of its kind in Australia.

Mr Anthony said the recognition received from the Digital Utility Awards has been valued at the highest level in the company.

“The award recognises our innovation and digital strategy of using new technologies in the business. This puts SA Power Networks among the finest utilities in Australia.”

The Digital Utility Awards will return in 2019. Stay up-to-date with the Digital Utilities newsletter to find out more about this year’s winners and finalists and receive updates about entering in next year’s awards or visit our website for more information. 

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