SA Power Networks experienced a sudden increase in electrical switching incidents and there was an urgent need to quickly reinforce switching safety. SA Power Networks engaged Nova Systems for this task, based on Nova Systems’ experience in safety-critical flight operations in two maned fighter aircraft.
A Nova Systems consultant with over 1,500 hours in command of tactical jet fighter aircraft (and with knowledge of electricity supply networks,) began by witnessing actual network switching programs to study the communication interactions between the Operator and Checker. Nova Systems also reviewed the electrical switching incidents case history with the objective of determining if improved coordination and communications could have prevented the switching incident.
After combining the observations and reviews, a presentation was developed that provided insights on how the SA Power Networks crews might take some lessons from fast jet flight operations to improve upon their reliability when performing electrical switching. This presentation was provided to all SA Power Networks depots and contractor locations. One month into the project, and approximately halfway through the presentation roll-out, SA Power Networks completed an entire month of network operations without a single switching incident.
Taking communications techniques and teamwork practices from the high-risk environment of tactical jet aviation and applying it to the safety-critical work of electrical switching proved to be very helpful in identifying opportunities for improvement in SA Power Networks work practices. This approach was also very interesting to the qualified switching operators that received the presentations and resulted in each audience actively participating in the discussion.