TechNote #02: SubStation Design Overview using Inventor

SubStation Design #02 21st Feb 2008.

Update April 2010: Fully detailed procedure for using Solidworks or Inventor see:

This is a follow on from TechNote #01 which described my recent project to develop a 3d cad strategy for MV and HV substation designs, which encompassed the many aspects of a design workflow that included influential criteria from various sources.

This particular technote is essentially a quick overview of the process when I developed this strategy and I have listed below a number of considerations as an introduction to a forthcoming series of detailed workflow articles

  1. Procurement – the alignment of purchasing with design schedule and availability of vendor data.
  2. TBA – Technical Bid Analysis – the criteria for correct technical bid analysis by the specifying engineers.
  3. Prerequisite data collation and how to manage received data which may include land survey data.
  4. Existing engineering workflow/processes.
  5. Surveying overview – geodetic survey system and bearings.
  6. Modularisation of company structural/electrical standards.
  7. Modularisation of site arrangements, including below ground works.
  8. Modelling hierarchy.
  9. Using external vendor data and third party models.
  10. Document management, naming conventions and cad standards.
  11. Conceptual Design Phase.
  12. Design Engineering Phase.
  13. Deliverable and Design completion Phase.
  14. Reusable aspects, relates to project data that can be reused for future station upgrades/ maintenance and other station design projects.

Once we have established the criteria for all the above we should be in a position to actually start developing the procedures for working with Autodesk Inventor.

  • The actual design process will use Autocad Inventor.
  • What work scope is to be done in Autocad Inventor (Mechanical, Electrical, Structural modelling content) and why?
  • What constitutes a part and what constitutes sub assemblies, assemblies and layouts?
  • How do we develop vendor drawings into 3d models and what rules need to be applied.
  • Developing libraries, parametric models, iparts and features.
  • Bill of Materials – descriptions, format etc etc.
  • Tubes and piping.
  • Electrical Interfaces
  • VB programming.
  • Manufacturing model exchange.
  • Installation and construction criteria.
  • Modularisation of standard vendor supplies – it is surprising how often this is overlooked, if you take the time to find out what constitutes a standard component from a particular vendor and base a design around this you can save considerable money and time.
  • In the 2D context – considerations for coordinate systems, drawing deliverable and future re-usability.

…and so on.. As you probably appreciate the development of a design strategy is dependent on many factors and not just the cad product alone.

Once this cad strategy is implemented it is quite conceivable to create a substation design; whether an expansion or green field site; from concept to drawing deliverable in 10 working days… and if we coordinate our 3d modelling data directly with manufacturing we can also shave considerable time on product deliverable and installation.

I may consider doing a blog specifically for the purpose of SubStation design and accordingly the link details will be noted here. In the interim if you would like further information then please contact me at


About Hugh

BIM & Cad Manager/Strategist, 3D/4D, multi-discipline cad workflows, integration. Interests include photography and historical aviation.
This entry was posted in BIM, Substation, Inventor, 3d Cad, Electrical Power, MV. HV and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to TechNote #02: SubStation Design Overview using Inventor

  1. Hi,

    I’m interested on how you able to used inventor or solidworks in substation design? can give me some example approach or source code you’ve made to give me some fire to start?

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