SBS Answers

SBS Answers

Answers to frequently asked questions about SBS.
Automated Utility Design™

What is AUD?

AUD is a leading utility distribution design tool based on the industry-standard AutoCAD platform. AUD provides a structured, user-friendly environment for automating the detailed design of distribution utility assets within a safe and effective network construction. Designs can be swiftly laid out based on an organization’s design standards and business rules. AUD supports projects ranging from simple maintenance work orders to large, highly engineered capital projects. AUD’s extensive features include automating the following processes:


· Reports

· Bill of materials

· Cost estimates

· Feature placement

· Construction documentation, callouts, schedules, and details


Automating these common design processes ensures consistent, accurate, and efficient designs while minimizing costly change management, training, and support expenses.

How is validation handled in AUD?

As a feature in the design is manipulated (created, deleted, or modified) by the designer, the rules validate that the action taken is within the utility’s standards. If the action violates standards, one of two possible actions can occur depending on the designer’s preference. If possible, AUD will replace the feature with a new component that meets standards (e.g. increase duct size, upsize transformer, add elbow). If no option is available (e.g. a conductor is unconnected on one end), a visual and textual validation error is provided. The user can click on the error notification, and the location of the design issue will be highlighted in the drawing.

Example of a validation error

What are AUD data import capabilities?

AUD includes the ability to import, interrogate, and manipulate all file formats supported by the version of Map 3D that is hosting AUD. (Supported file formats can be found here.) In addition to the ability to import file formats, AUD has full access to the core Map3D Toolset Feature Data Objects (FDO) functionality. (FDO capabilities can be found on the OSGeo website.)


Once data is imported into the AUD design environment, the system includes the ability to manually convert the features from third-party documents into AUD features to include attributes and geometry. The conversion process includes inheriting attributes from the source as feature attributes and merging with the model attributes from the created AUD industry models.

What are the hardware requirements for AUD?

AUD requires the same hardware specifications as Autodesk’s AutoCAD. AutoCAD hardware specifications are shown on this page.

Does AUD support macros?

Yes. Macros can be configured to perform placement of multiple Compatible Units (CU) with a single click based on standards defined in the AUD business rules. For example, in the sample below, overhead macros are configured to create a dual circuit with a single line draw. The macro will create the poles, guys, pole tops, neutral, and circuits. All features will be placed (pole zone) according to utility standards. Validation rules will be automatically run, and sag, guying, and clearance reports will be made available.


Sample of templates for multiple CU macros

Sample of setting default CU settings

based on design type

What engineering calculations does AUD perform?

AUD includes an out-of-the-box set of engineering calculations:


· Voltage drop and flicker calculations

· Underground cable pulling tension

· Overhead sag calculation for wind, ice, and temperature

· Pole sizing

· Guying


The out-of-the-box rules can be configured to a utility’s specific standards through simple interfaces. The AUD architecture of implementing the rules within the drawing template (.dwg file) allows engineering departments to implement changes to design standards without requiring code changes to AUD. The calculations assist users in correctly sizing and locating facilities based on utility standards. Engineering validation notifications enable designers to make design corrections.


AUD engineering, data validation, material ordering, stylization rules, and industry models are configured to match each utility’s design/construction standards. The rules and industry models are embedded in an AutoCAD template and enabled at the start of the design. The rules are stored with the project for the life of the project file.

How are design standards implemented in AUD?

Design standards are implemented in AUD through the blocks, model, and AUD rules engine. Implementing changes to the standards within AUD can be accomplished through the user-friendly SMART tools. Graphic displays of specific standards can be stored in the template and inserted into the document.


How does AUD support BIM?

AUD supports Building Information Modeling (BIM) integration through our Utility DataHub (UDH) suite of configurable integration modules. SBS has developed integrated workflows that support the Autodesk® BIM 360 platform. Autodesk and their BIM 360 offerings are recognized as leading products in the BIM marketplace. 

BIM 360 provides:  

· Cost management and workflow support

· Collaboration and constructability workflows

· Generation and management of construction submittals and packages

· Document management

· Quality management, coordination, and constructability

· Project management

· Data analytics

· 3D visualization


UDH provides a service-based interface to BIM 360, offering an alternative to design drawing management via the BIM 360 Docs product.  


An architecture diagram 

Does SBS support ArcGIS Workflow Manager and similar Workflow Management Tools?

Organizations using AUD may select the workflow management platform of their choice, including ArcGIS Workflow. Any platform that supports integration points via interface tables, REST, or SOAP APIs can be configured via SBS Utility DataHub™ to allow AUD designers to view the assigned work orders, view and update job status, and provide access to approval workflows. Once the AUD design package is visualized within the ArcGIS Pro using SBS’s plug-in, the capabilities of ArcGIS Workflow Manager can be used to manage workflows internal to the GIS requirements.

How does AUD handle simple jobs?

AUD has extensive capabilities for creating large, very advanced utility infrastructure designs, but AUD is also exceptionally productive when performing simple, repeatable design jobs.


Below are some examples of things that can be automated when working with AUD to streamline the design of simple jobs:


· Linking the Work Request to a design in the Work Order Browser

· Selecting the correct predefined template(s) when linking

· Navigating to the geographic location where the work is to be performed

· Setting the work order boundary

· Importing the landbase and infrastructure assets from Geographic Information Systems (GIS)


How is it done?

AUD core capabilities provide the flexibility to support scaling for simple and multi-phase complex jobs by offering template options, project modes, and configuration controls. Utility DataHub™ (UDH) is also involved in streamlining and automating the integration of small jobs.


Utility DataHub™ Work Order Browser Ready to Generate the Basis of a Small Design


AUD can be configured to create a design from a selection of templates, each uniquely configured to optimize the design workflow for the type of work order. UDH automatically selects the correct template based on User ID, Group ID, or Work Order type.


Multiple Templates Available for Design


The template for a job can include a default project mode, with the option to change modes at any point in the job. Each mode progressively enables more functions than the previous mode. For example, Estimate Mode is typically chosen for simple jobs while Analysis Mode might be used for more complex scenarios.


Selecting a Design Mode


UDH allows for GIS queries and automates the design steps based on manual request or Work Order type. For simple jobs not requiring reviews and signoffs, the steps to import and export design results between AUD and external systems can also be automated.


Within these options, AUD also offers a variety of configuration controls in the design and validation sessions to enable or disable functionality for job specific scenarios.


Why automate small job designs?

Many utility organizations take shortcuts for their smallest jobs to ensure that they can be processed as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, when small jobs are not properly managed, utilities typically encounter a number of challenging problems:


· Records are not updated in a timely manner, which may impact other systems such as asset management, outage management, and distribution management

· Lack of design validation may cause engineering standards to not be met

· Assets may require manual updates

· Materials management workflow is bypassed or done manually

· GIS becomes out of date, which can impact future restoration activities


Properly integrating all utility jobs into a single cohesive workflow ensures that utility organizations will have the best operational systems to provide safe utility services to their customers.

How does AUD support work assignments?

All metadata about work orders is presented to the AUD user in a single work order browser dialog. This dialog can be used for managing different work requests as well as searching and linking work orders to designs. The work order browser supports the necessary functionality of managing work requests synchronized from the utility’s work management system. Upon opening the work order browser, users see an initial filter of work requests available to them based on the different authorization credentials of the designers. The dialog also shows work request status, design status, and other pertinent information necessary to support design performance management.


Searching and filtering allows designers to query and view different work requests based on field attributes within the user authorization (e.g. search by name of a designer). The Work Request Query and Filter Designer functions can link or unlink an assigned work request to the design drawing and automate the process of storing data in the design document repository. Work order browser can be configured to check out an existing design or to extract and create a new version. This capability allows an existing design to be used as the basis for a new design. This preserves both the as-designed and as-built copies of the design. The screenshot below shows linking of work requests in the work order browser dialog.


Linking of work requests

Once a design is linked, Utility DataHub™ (UDH) will set a design status, which can provide information necessary to manage the design process. Examples of design status may include “In Design,” “Permit Pulled,” “Site Inspected,” “Ready for Review,” etc. Statuses can be shared with the work management system. The statuses can also be used to control workflows, data routing, approval processes, multi-design, partial posting to Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and bill of material (BOM) submission.

How does AUD integrate with work and asset management systems?

Integration with Work and Asset Management systems is accomplished via the SBS Utility DataHub™ (UDH) Design-EAM module. UDH is a configurable set of product-level interfaces that streamlines common utility workflows. The EAM module supports both compatible unit and work order integration with many features that facilitate better management of the utility design process.

For more detailed information about UDH work and asset integration, please read this post on the SBS blog.

Which document management systems are supported by AUD?

SBS has integrated AUD with multiple document management systems including Autodesk Vault, Falcon, Bentley ProjectWise, and OpenText. The integration is performed via SBS Utility DataHub™ (UDH), a configurable, supported product offered by SBS. UDH supports the integration of AUD with document management systems based on the capabilities of their respective application programming interfaces (APIs). Capabilities may vary based on the document system.

How does AUD support Compatible Unit systems?

AUD and Utility DataHub™ support compatible units (CUs) as fundamental building blocks to help utility organizations standardize their design processes, improve the accuracy of estimates, and reduce field work. The use of compatible units is greatly facilitated by the use of Utility DataHub™ in an integrated engineering design process. The availability of CUs in the design system enforces standardization and the use of structured designs.


Although AUD provides tools to manage CUs internally, most utilities use Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) systems (like SAP, CGI, or IBM Maximo©) to manage materialsCUs, and estimating. The AUD design tool environment includes a material  database synchronized with the EAM to provide local material availability to enable off-line, remote design work.  Such auto-synchronization can be configured via EAM interface tables or service-based integration, which is fully supported by Utility DataHub™.   


AUD utilizes CUs for the design process and creates the material listMaterials are exported back to EAM for estimating as part of the work request.   

How does AUD support standards and handle business rules?

AUD has a robust rules engine that is used to support the development of logic specific to a given utility’s business processes. AUD’s rules engine has a user-friendly interface to update changes to the standards through configuration (industry models, rules engine, and styles). The rules and configuration utilize the electrical and physical characteristics of the industry models to conduct structural and electrical analysis, validation, and resolution when design does not meet standards. There are cases when Compatible Units (CUs) and industry models should not have a one to one match; this is to accommodate different requirements between finance and engineering changes. A typical example includes existing CUs that are comprised of poles and pole-tops. AUD requires these features to be unique industry models to support engineering calculations. AUD material ordering rules can also be configured to map the two unique industry models to the appropriate CU(s).

How does SBS determine enhancements to AUD?

SBS is very active in updating products, typically offering two major releases and fifty or more product enhancements each year. Three primary pillars drive AUD product development: 

  1. Improved job throughput: Developments that streamline design workflows and processes, ranging from minor performance enhancements to streamlined “picks and clicks. 
  2. Advanced integration support: Some of the most recent changes are related to an extensive investment made in Esri utility network (including both versions 2 and 3). 
  3. Reduced implementation and support costs: Long-term focus on “evergreen” upgrades to reduce costs that organizations have in maintaining and upgrading their design and Geographic Information System (GIS) solutions.  More information on this topic can be found in this blog post.   

Feedback from our user community also drives many of our enhancements. SBS hosts a Peer Utility Group (PUG) made up of utilities that have adopted or that are interested in adopting AUD. Membership in PUG allows organizations and users of AUD to exchange ideas and to give one another input about using AUD in end-to-end utility workflows, which may include integrations with enterprise systems, mapping/GIS, and field solutions.  Each year the PUG hosts a conference that provides significant benefit to all attendees, including management, system administrators, and end users. Benefits include software and technology updates. This conference is open to all AUD customers and PUG members. While membership in PUG is free, there is a registration fee associated with each onsite conference. 

What is the SBS integration strategy for AUD?

Integration is provided by SBS Utility DataHub™ suite of integration product modules, supporting configurable integration via REST and SOAP APIs rather than having to develop custom interfaces between GIS, Work and Asset Management, Mobile, and Analysis systems.  Use of Utility DataHub™ streamlines the implementation process, supports agile delivery, and ensures that the system can be upgraded from release-to-release without having to take on costly upgrades.  Utility DataHub is a proven solution being used by many of the largest US investor-owned utilities. 

How does AUD work with Esri's Utility Network (UN)?

AUD and Esri’s Utility Network (UN) can be integrated via the SBS Utility DataHub™ (UDH) to significantly improve utility workflows. The addition of UN makes geospatial data available to support the design process. AUD in turn keeps the GIS utility network up to date and also allows users to access GIS and AutoCAD software to model and visualize various network layers during the design phase of a project.


Although there are several integration points, the following linkages are particularly important:

· Base geographic data: GIS provides the necessary base map to initiate the design process. The addition of network-based data facilitates the ability to define the work location affected by design and supports creation of the project work area.

· Design-based analysis: During the design process, it may be necessary to support engineering analysis unique to the enhancements being planned for the network. This analysis is typically performed within AUD by accessing GIS network data.

· System-level analysis: An Esri environment with a valid UN for ArcGIS Enterprise becomes a platform that enables AUD to obtain results from system-level analyses needed to support the broader implications of the design improvements.


Those data sources and subsequent analyses deliver critical information to enable an efficient, high-quality design process. The design-specific requirements of the workflow demand a set of data transformation and business processes:

· Augmentation of the GIS data with more-detailed asset information

· Transformation of data from cartographic standards to design and construction standards

· Engineering properties to support calculations

· Network validation


The integration of the GIS and design-data sources provided by Utility Network, AUD, and Utility DataHub™ is a powerful synergy that pays valuable dividends as design solutions are able to leverage GIS network information.


For more detailed information about this topic, please visit:

How does the AUD Utility Network integration compare to the SBS Esri Geometric Network offering?

The SBS Utility Network (UN) integration exceeds the current capabilities SBS offers for geometric network integration.  The new architecture replaces the original OSGeo Feature Data Option (FDO) integration based on legacy ArcSDE and ArcObjects with a service-based integration that is fully aligned with the ArcGIS Enterprise / Utility Network architecture.  This provides a number of benefits:

· AutoCAD-based engineering design is seamlessly integrated with ArcGIS Enterprise and Utility Network using the SBS AUD product.

· AUD designers are Esri Named Users, ensuring the appropriate security protocols are in place.

· Esri data sources are directly available within AUD to support engineering design.

· Esri Utility Network can provide advanced network analysis services (such as network trace) to the designer during an AUD design session.

· Design, engineering, and construction data is published to Esri Field Maps and third-party mobile applications.


A diagram of the integrated architecture is shown below:



Further details can be found in the article on Esri UN integration at the SpatialBiz blog:

Substation Design Suite™

How do I use SDS with Autodesk Infraworks?

How do I install SDS?

How do I import Autodesk Civil3D data into SDS?

How do I run a 4 Conductor Cable in SDS?

What are the hardware requirements for SDS?

Substation Design Suite™ Physical for Autodesk Inventor requires the same hardware specifications as Autodesk Inventor, which can be found here.


Based on feedback from current clients, SBS highly recommends purchasing this additional hardware:

·A solid-state hard drive

·32 GB of RAM with the option to expand to 128 GB for larger substations 

· Graphics card larger than 4 GB (Refer to Autodesk’s Certified hardware list.)

·4K monitors (Required to harness the graphics card capability.) 


Please note also that performance will be greatly enhanced if working files reside directly on the workstation’s hard drive. Opening files from a network drive can create potential performance issues. A document management system can be set up to pull the file from the network drive for editing then return the file to the network drive once it has been saved.


Substation Design Suite™ Protection & Control for AutoCAD Electrical requires the same hardware specifications as Autodesk AutoCAD Electrical, which can be found here.

Does SBS recommend using sheet sets in Substation Design Suite™?

Whether an organization chooses to use sheet sets depends on the workflow. SBS recommends using sheet sets in major assemblies, major subassemblies, or detailed shop fabricationsUsing sheet sets allows users several key advantages: 

·View all plans within one sheet set 

·Make speed revision changes 

·Split up large models to get desired views 

·Copy views 

·Group drawings together for printing 


However, when using AutoCAD Electrical, SBS does not recommend using sheet sets. AcadE’s Project Manager provides many advantages to working in single file, one of which is the title block update feature. Additionally, using single-sheet drawings in this workflow minimizes hardware requirements and maximizes collaboration by allowing multiple users to access the files.  

Does SDS require access to any data hosted in the owning vendor’s site?

Access to data is required only to authenticate licenses. No data is sent to or hosted by SBS.

Does SDS require elevated rights in order to install on workstations?

Yes, administrator rights are required for installation although many organizations deploy installment packages internally.

What is the process to keep SDS updated with the latest new patches and releases?

All updates are posted to

What software security protocol does SBS follow?

All code development (code based) is protected behind “Deny Access” firewalls on AWS. Only authorized SBS personnel are whitelisted through the security group. SDS is an Autodesk plug-in written in .NET code in Visual Studio and Visual Lisp. It is compiled, built, and tested on a Jenkins build server environment and then code signed with a valid SSL certificate.

Does SDS utilize any APIs?

Because SDS serves as a plug-in to Autodesk products, SDS utilizes APIs made available by Autodesk. SDS does not provide customer-facing APIs.

Does SDS Physical for Inventor provide grounding calculations?

Substation Design Suite™ (SDS) Physical for Inventor does not provide grounding calculations. However, it can import the results of a design completed by qualified engineers utilizing existing ground grid analysis software such as CDEGS, WinIGS, ETAP, etc.  

What type of design checks does SDS Physical Inventor perform?

Substation Design Suite™ (SDS) Physical for Inventor provides the following design checks: 

·Check Parts by Phase 

· Grounded Equipment

· Grounded Structure

· Insulator Check

· Basic Insulation Level (BIL)

· Phase to Ground

· Phase to Phase


What type of lightning protection does SDS Physical for Inventor provide?

Substation Design Suite™ (SDS) Physical for Inventor provides rolling sphere and cone protection analysis based on IEEE standards. 


How are Vault Data Server (ADMS) and Vault File Server (AVFS) arranged for SDS Physical for Inventor?

Vault Data Server

3D substation design projects contain both models and drawings and will naturally vary in size based on project complexities and customer requirements. Depending on the modeling strategies utilized, both large substation projects and small substations could easily generate 500MB of data. In 3D substation design, a single model can be utilized many times and only have a single instance of the file. One substation design could have more than 4,000 individual files.


As a result, Substation Design Suite™ Physical for Inventor relies heavily on Autodesk Vault Data Server. The Vault Data Server should be located on a dedicated computer. Spatial Business Systems (SBS) recommends a 500GB solid-state drive (SDD) and 32 GB of RAM for the primary drive where the Vault Data Server is installed since the server itself is managing the data links and workflow.



Vault File Server

As the model and drawing data increase, organizations can accommodate the increased storage demand by expanding Vault File Server. Subsequent drives can be added to the Vault File Server and each can contain segmented Vaults. SBS recommends configuring a “Training Vault” environment in addition to the Production Environment Vault to facilitate testing of workflows and methods. Since the file size of a substation design project may reach 1 GB or more, SBS recommends using at minimum a 500 GB SSD and 32 GB of RAM for each additional drive.


Hardware requirements for the Vault Data Server and Vault File Server can be found here:


Server Access

Users can experience latency and similar performance issues stemming from multiple users accessing a single server simultaneously. Users should have access to the server with little interruption, meaning network hubs and switches should be minimized between the user’s computer and the vault servers.


Server Backup

Vault does have a backup utility of its own, but it tends to become more unreliable as the file stores approach 1TB or more. To mitigate backup and recovery concerns, SBS recommends that organizations with large data stores utilize SQL backup utilities.

What is Vault Data Standard (VDS), and how should it be configured to work with Substation Design Suite™ Physical for Inventor?

Autodesk offers its clients Vault Data Standard (VDS), a free data control feature that allows for automatically populating the metadata required for drawings, assemblies, and parts for both Autodesk Inventor and AutoCAD Electrical.


When using Substation Design Suite™ Physical for Inventor tools to create part (.ipt) models on the fly, SDS creates the filenames, part numbers, and iProperties. VDS should be configured to not affect these parts; otherwise, VDS will interrupt the SDS creation of the parts and will cause an error.


VDS commonly interferes with the following items:

·Flex Conduit and Straight Conduit


·Bus and Bent Bus

·Ground Leads


To prevent interference with Inventor parts (.ipt) and SDS created parts, SBS recommends either turning off VDS or simplifying VDS. When VDS ignores these parts, users can enter the metadata manually. This is often of little concern because Library parts (.ipt) are most often used in substation modeling. With Inventor drawings and assemblies (.iam), use VDS as desired.

Does SDS require any firewalls to be opened?

It may be necessary to whitelist and/or Both URLs point to the same server.

What software security assurance does SBS provide to validate that SDS is free of security vulnerabilities?

SDS functions as a plug-in to Autodesk software and does not collect or transmit customer data back to SBS other than license user credentials.

Does SDS collect or send any data to the software provider or any other third-party vendors?

SDS collects license authentication information. Only user credentials are maintained by SBS.

What connection type and encryption does SDS use between the app or plug-in and the owning vendor?

Connection to licensing servers is encrypted through port 443. Per the SSL certificate for and, encryption for the connection is TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384, 256 bit keys, TLS 1.2.

Utility DataHub™

What interface capabilities are supported via UDH?

Utility Data Hub™ (UDH) has five modules:

· UDH Design – EAM

· UDH Design – GIS

· UDH Analysis

· UDH Mobile

· UDH Substation


Visit the Utility DataHub™ webpage to learn more about these modules.

Is UDH required to use AUD?

Utility DataHub™ (UDH) is commonly used to connect designs to enterprise asset management, work order systems, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), engineering analysis programs, and mobile devices. However, UDH is not required to perform the designs or to create an automated bill of material.


What types of licenses does SBS provide?

SBS license types vary based on the product being purchased.

  • The end-user licenses for our intelligent design solutions, AUD and SDS, are named user licenses. Please note: Any previously purchased single-use or multi-use licenses will continue to work. However, the user will have to create and sign into their SBS support profile to retrieve the product license. If an organization has previously purchased multi-user licenses and wishes to purchase more, they will be named user licenses.
  • Utility DataHub is available via perpetual license, sold by environment.
  • Our FME plug-in products typically follow the licensing models of Safe Software’s FME product. 

Can I get a trial license of SBS software?

SBS offers trial licenses of Substation Design Suite™ (SDS) with the purchase of SDS Physical and/or SDS Protection & Control Training. Licenses are active through the duration of the training course.

SBS training course options can be found here.

What Autodesk versions do SBS products support?

SBS products such as Automated Utility Design™ and Substation Design Suite™ support the current version as well as the previous three versions of Autodesk’s AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor. While projects may run on earlier versions, they will not be supported by SBS.  

Does SBS offer volume discounts on software licenses?

SBS offers multi-year purchase discounts but no volume discounts.


What training is available for Substation Design Suite™?

SBS offers two specialized courses that focus on the configuration and use of the Substation Design Suite™ (SDS) products.  Our instructor-led courses provide the most up-to-date information on SDS design and software training in a series of twelve to sixteen sessions. Both courses are available online via web meetings in two-hour increments. Onsite training sessions are currently unavailable due to COVID-19. 


SBS also offers mentoring programs that provide practical guidance in the use of the SDS product offerings.  


To see prices and more extensive details for each course as well as information about our mentoring programs, click here.

What do I need to do in order to prepare my organization for SBS training?

Please prepare your organization for full attendance at each training session with proper hardware and software already installed. Being fully prepared for SBS training will optimize your organization’s time spent in training by keeping technical issues and distractions to a minimum.  



Please review the hardware requirements of the software for which you are receiving the training. If your current hardware does not comply with minimum requirements, procure and set up the hardware before scheduling the training. SBS software requirements are listed below: 


Automated Utility Design™ requires the same hardware specifications as Autodesk’s AutoCAD, which can be found here.


Substation Design Suite™ (SDS) Physical for Autodesk Inventor requires the same hardware specifications as Autodesk Inventor, which can be found here.

Substation Design Suite™ Protection & Control (SDS P&C) for AutoCAD Electrical requires the same hardware specifications as Autodesk’s AutoCAD Electrical, which can be found here.



Whether you are purchasing SBS software or using SDS trial licenses for your training, please ensure that the software is installed and operational at least one week before your scheduled training. Installation instructions can be found on the SBS Support Portal.



It is imperative that attendees be fully present and free of distractions for the entire duration of the scheduled training. Missing even twenty minutes of training can set a student back or derail the lesson schedule 


SBS training course options can be found here.

Getting Started

How do I obtain 3D content to build my intelligent substation models?

Prior to embarking on creating content, SBS encourages organizations to investigate sources for substation content that may already be available to them: 

·SBS portal at 

·Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) 

·Investor-Owned Utilities (IOU) organizations, many of whom have already initiated 3D modeling practices within their organizations   

·The SDS Industry Consortium (SDSIC) NAUCSI initiative, which is a content sharing initiative among mid-sized and larger investor-owned utilities at


Although some projects will necessitate custom content, the vast majority of 3D models required for substation design should be viewed through the lens of “Level of Development” rather than “Level of Detail.” Adopting the “Level of Development” mindset empowers engineers and designers to focus on conveying design intent to all stakeholders rather than on developing pretty pictures. The most advanced and efficient users of 3D technology balance visual-fidelity and critical information-exchange. A moderate visual-fidelity model supported with comprehensive meta-data will, in most cases, deliver on the promises of BIM (Building Information Model) design while reducing the labor investment required to support higher-precision unique models 

What software do I need to get started with intelligent substation design?

Autodesk Inventor Professional is required to run the Substation Design Suite™ (SDS) Physical product.  Autodesk’s AutoCAD Electrical is required to run the SDS Protection & Control (SDS P&C) software modules.  


SDS Physical and SDS P&C are purchased separately from SBS.  Autodesk products can be purchased directly from Autodesk or through an authorized Autodesk reseller.  

What hardware do I need to get started with intelligent substation design?

Automated Utility Design™ requires the same hardware specifications as Autodesk’s AutoCAD, which can be found here.

Substation Design Suite™ (SDS) Physical for Autodesk Inventor requires the same hardware specifications as Autodesk Inventor, which can be found here.


Substation Design Suite™ Protection & Control (SDS P&C) for AutoCAD Electrical requires the same hardware specifications as Autodesk’s AutoCAD Electrical, which can be found here.


What options does SBS offer to implement intelligent substation design at my utility?

Here is a preliminary list of items to consider when getting started with Substation Design Suite™:

  1. Acquire the suggested hardware. Inadequate hardware negates the benefits of SBS solutions simply because of performance issues.
  2. Schedule the recommended training. SBS team members are experts at the software and its use in your environment, and many SBS trainers have prior experience with the challenges of creating substation designs.
  3. Structure a project for your staff to work on immediately following the training. SBS encourages a pilot project approach with a team dedicated to implementing and testing the applications within your environment.

Typical Quick Start Engagement for a

Professional Services Firm


SBS team members are available via regularly scheduled sessions to consult with professional service firm users, managers, and IT staff. Consultation topics typically cover:

· Vault configuration, folder structures, and file naming schemes

· IT related topics, shared drives, and hardware

· 3D content strategy, Utility Content, and OEM content

· 2D symbol strategy, UPCS, and standard schemes

· Model development strategy and level of detail

· User consistency and data standards

· Executive management, vision, objectives, and implementation

· Brownfield workflows and Scan‐to‐BIM


Determining which product best serves your organization and your clients is critical in transitioning to new productivity-enhancing technology. Please check out the SBS eBook “Which Product is Right for Me” and schedule a call with the SBS team to talk through details.


Managing data is another essential part of any technology adoption process . SBS will guide your organization to solutions and processes that best serve your needs and the needs of your clients.


In the substation design industry, acquiring content is also a primary point of concern. The SBS team is well equipped to assist your organization in developing a content strategy. Please refer to some of our most popular guidance documents on developing content:

· Addressing the Content Dilemma

· Guide to Acquiring OEM 3D Models

· Transitioning to 3D FAQ


Contact SBS for a more in-depth conversation about implementing SDS.

Is a Document Management System required for intelligent substation design?

A document management system is not required for a substation pilot project or for the creation of a basic design, but it is necessary for a production-level implementation of the Substation Design Suite™ software. The document management system needs to track revisions in construction prints, parts, and assemblies.


Many utilities already have company document management systems that may be developed internally, and others use industry-specific products such as Meridian. SBS recommends Autodesk Vault since it fully integrates with the Autodesk products used for substation design tools and holds legacy files of other design platforms. Many utilities use Autodesk Vault to manage the models and construction documents then have a PDF generator post the documentation to Meridian when projects are as-built and checked back in.


SBS can recommend Autodesk resellers that provide Autodesk Vault implementations. Or utilities can use their reseller of choice, and SBS can oversee the implementation.

What are the benefits of transitioning to 3D modeling and BIM solutions for substation design?

There are numerous benefits from adopting a BIM approach. These can range from better visualization of the installation including virtual walk-throughs to animated construction sequences tied to your project schedule. However, the most immediate positive impact firms typically realize when adopting a comprehensive project modeling approach is a reduction in the number of field fit-up errors and a reduction in incorrectly specified materials. The Substation Design Suite™ products leverage the core capabilities of the Autodesk products your team is already familiar with to provide substation design specific functions that increase your design efficiency and quality. 

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