Garland Power Digitizes its Control Room

Garland, Texas , US - 2021

The Texas based utility major takes out the analog and goes in all digital

Barco solutions:


Meet Garland Power & Light (GP&L)

GP&L is the 4th largest municipal utility in Texas. With 388 linear miles of overhead lines and 601 linear miles of underground lines, GP&L has been illuminating the lives of the citizens in the city of Garland since 1923. With an emphasis on customer service and industry involvement, GP&L’s diverse generation portfolio includes wind, solar, natural gas, and hydroelectric power sources along with transmission and distribution lines providing services to a customer base of 250,000 that continues to grow annually.

The control room is the central nervous system of any utility company. From this centralized location, all infrastructures can be monitored, and critical decision making can occur. At the core of that control room lies large-scale visualization and processing of real time data. Through that real time situational awareness and control, GP&L’s control room strives to provide uninterrupted services and rapid response times on a 24/7/365 basis.

The situation

The control room’s static map-board, originally installed in 2011, was no longer enough to provide real time data of their systems. Analog map boards, while large and reliable, can no longer show all relevant data on a common operating picture to make informed decisions on system operations. In comparison, a digital overview video wall allows for immediate availability of SCADA as well as other relevant content, such as security feeds or local news. GP&L began exploring alternatives to their map board that would provide a more dynamic visual canvas for monitoring their systems, along with a content distribution system that would allow for more information to be available to their system operators and key decision makers. Being a bulk and direct power supplier, GP&L serves a massive customer base, but not having access to information in real-time restricted their response time. This shortcoming created a sense of urgency for Garland, which in turn sparked their search for a proactive way to manage daily operations and increase operator efficiency.

Given the immensity and importance of this undertaking, Garland was keen to invest in a hi-tech solution from a company that provided not just superior technology but service too. GP&L’s selection criteria included: high product quality, ease of maintenance, cyber security, future-proof architecture, and commitment to long term support.

The solution

With 25 years dedicated to providing video wall systems to the mission critical space along with many local references, Barco’s control room products were at the top of GPL&L’s list to evaluate. BARCO’s revolutionary flagship LCD product, Barco UniSee, coupled with the TransForm N / CMS platform of video wall controllers, exceeded GP&L’s expectations for quality and security while still staying on budget. With space at a premium and budget a factor, an 8x4 array of Barco UniSee displays was the perfect fit. Barco’s UniSee platform alleviates many of the common concerns of LCD technology. Barco UniSee offers a superior image quality in brightness and contrast, modular design, self-aligning mounting, self-calibration, and ease of maintenance. Unlike most LCD video walls on the market, GP&L’s new videowall consisting of Barco UniSee was rated for over 11 years of use, which made its cost of ownership the lowest among the solutions evaluated by GP&L.

Barco’s TransForm N platform, a distributed network based control room content platform that gives operators and decision-makers an optimized view of control room data, was also implemented. This network based solution allows for sources from various networks (Corporate, SCADA, Security) to be displayed on the main video wall as well as ancillary displays, and easily interact with in real-time via Keyboard-Mouse control. This allowed GP&L control room operators to manage their vast power grid with better effectiveness and incident response. This system is also easily scalable allowing the system to grow with GP&L’s needs.

GP&L’s new video wall system provides a common operating picture with all data at the operators’ fingertips. This provides them with complete situational awareness for real time decision making and better control.

The results

The proof of a successful project is in the user experience post implementation. The complete Barco video wall system at GP&L provided substantial benefits, including:

  • Complete situational awareness through access of all content to a common operating picture.
  • Broader access to visualization and collaboration amongst operators and field personnel.
  • Increased daily efficiency of operators with optimized workflows
  • Elevated customer satisfaction and quality of life across the city of Garland

From customized control room setups to optimizing the way people work, Barco’s solutions improve businesses of all sizes. Garland Power & Light is but just one example of how Barco’s time-tested products and unrivaled personable approach can bring value to your company and customers.

Barco UniSee met our needs budgetarily as well as space-wise, with an unprecedented ease of operation

Matt Carter

T&D Operations Manager, Garland Power

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