ASAT and Alstom: One Year Post-Merger

by Chuck Newton

It has already been about one year since the acquisition of ASAT by Alstom Grid was completed, last mid-December. ASAT had been a small, but growing and successful, Calgary-based provider of substation automation and integration products and services. This acquisition strengthens Alstom’s existing Substation Automation operations in Montreal and Philadelphia.

In a late November 2013 interview with ASAT’s founder, Manford Kwan, it became clear to this writer that the merging of ASAT products into the global Alstom Grid portfolio has gone amazingly smoothly, much better and much faster than we have seen in several decades of observing similar mergers among technology companies, including those serving the electric power industry. ASAT provides products (DAP substation servers), software (suite of substation automation applications) and services (from training to substation system design, commissioning and start-up to ongoing hardware and software maintenance).

The company’s early targets had included upgrades for the D-20 (and other) legacy RTU installations (which still amount to several thousand units deployed throughout North America and elsewhere), and DNP 3 support activities, as well as providing IEC 61850 compatibility, helped broaden its market scope to include Asia. Now with the full support and international sales force provided by Alstom Grid, the company’s products and services are being integrated with Alstom’s broad MICOM P40 Agile range of substation automation components. Hence ASAT products are being marketed to the global electric power community. As a result of the combined offering, some key projects were awarded to Alstom Grid from Utilities in North America and Asia. These projects enable the utilities to deploy Smart Substation applications such as online condition monitoring for Asset Management, substation cyber security application for addressing NERC CIP requirements and the latest IEC 61805-9-2LE based Digital Substation solution including the MICOM P40 Agile protection IEDS and MU Agile Analog Merging Units.

In North America, ASAT products support both DNP 3 serial and DNP 3/IP protocols. IEC 61850 based architecture is available to the international community as well as a smaller, but growing base of North American 61850 users.

When asked about what separates ASAT from other substation automation specialist firms, Manford discussed the tool kit approach developed for customers. Because each utility has a somewhat unique roadmap and challenges, the DAPserver products and related suite of applications software enables each utility to retain existing substation device investment, all the while migrating towards a modern substation automation architecture. In turn, this approach provides for a more cost-effective and lower risk approach to substation modernization.

The various modular application plug-ins developed by the Calgary ASAT team include DAPCore, DAPView, DAPGuard and DAP Gateway. These in turn enable utilities to stage and prioritize their automation roadmap with six specific modules including data concentration and protocol conversion; substation HMI capabilities; engineering access; NERC CIP compliance; online condition-based monitoring of substation assets; and linkage to distribution automation capabilities.