Now that you have determined that you need a power system study, and you have developed the scope of the project, you need to determine how you are going to get the study completed. To start with there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. Do you buy the software and tackle it yourself? Do you hire an outside company to put it together? How you answer these questions will determine the next steps, but we are 90% sure what the best option will be at the end.
There a three basic way to approach getting a power system study completed:
- Completely In-House
- Completely contracted out
- Hybrid of both
These all have their pros and cons, and depending on the size and complexity of your company and system the method that is chosen will be self-evident. I will explain the pros and cons of the two extremes, all in-house and all contracted out and then explain why I think a hybrid option is typically the best answer, even with the added administration over completing the project inhouse.
The main advantage with completing the power system study inhouse is control. If you, or a co-worker, is completing the study they already have access to the equipment, or know who does.
The advantage of having an outside resource do the work for you is that you can put together the project scope, pick your favorite consultant and walk away for the most part until they have questions, and finally are ready to present the report. With this method you have to facilitate the consultant with getting the information and then answering any questions that they may have.
The hybrid model is a combination of both, completing the areas that you are competent and have resources available for inhouse, and then outsourcing the areas that you may be weaker – or don’t have the resources available – to a competent consultant. A common split would be for the owner to gather all the data required and update the drawings, and the consultant build the model with this information and produce the report.
The reason I think that this is the preferred method, and will help keep the project schedule and costs reasonable is because it will allow you to leverage your strengths (knowledge of the system, process, business, etc) and limit your weakness such as knowledge of the modeling software, interpreting the results, working with utilities, etc. These are all tasks and areas that you may not work with on your day-to-day business, but a reputable consultant will.
There is no right model for every situation, however we almost always recommend some type of hybrid model. The site should retain control of the Electrical Safety Program, developing the risk matrix, and even gathering the input information. However, outside resources will typically be more efficient for developing the system model, the incident energy report and at times even the data gathering around the site.
Always work with your consultants to divvy up the work in a way that leverages the strengths and limits the weaknesses of each group.
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