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Smart Network

Unison's Mesh Radio Network

In 2009, Unison embarked on a Smart Grid initiative consisting of three sequential phases, each of five years duration. The three phases are: Implementation, Optimisation and Integration. The implementation phase ended in March 2015, and the optimisation phase has recently commenced.

The overriding objective of this initiative is best practice asset management, which equates to reduced risk, reduced cost and improved network performance, leading to an enhanced customer experience. A key enabler of the Smart Grid initiative is the backbone communications system that supports it.

To enable the benefits of the Smart Grid vision, Unison selected and installed a Silver Spring Networks (SSN) Generation Four (Gen4) mesh radio network to provide communications to its Smart Devices in all three regions. Examples of Smart Devices are modern: Reclosers, Remote Control Switches, Ring Main Units and Voltage Regulators.

In total, across all three regions, the mesh radio system consists of 283 Bridge radios and 94 Relays (repeaters) and is currently the largest SSN Distribution Automation (DA) network in Australasia. Unison was the first company in the world to install Gen4 Bridges in the field.

In terms of delivery performance, the mesh radio network has enabled faster and more reliable communications between the Smart Devices and the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system in the Unison Control Room, which has led to faster restoration of supply to Unison’s customers in the event of an outage.

The below google map images illustrate the locations of mesh radio assets across Unison’s network.