White Paper – Securing Electrical Substations

Roy Bourjeily dwells upon securing and controlling electrical substations, remote sites/cabinets and workforce management from control centre.


  • Client

    Acsys Technologies

  • Services

    The platform provides an intuitive and comprehensive UI that allows administrators to easily manage the Access Points (Acsys locks) and Users with their Acsys keys.

  • Technologies

    Acsys IoT

  • Dates




Physical security breaches in electrical substations, distribution cabinets and other components of the electrical grid around the world have been associated with both internal and external attacks often classified as vandalism. Such breaches on this critical infrastructure lead to potentially disastrous consequences. With millions of substations, distribution cabinets across the world situated in locations that range from isolated remote areas to densely populated urban areas, the job of securing these critical assets is a very demanding task.

Considering the ongoing threat to the power grid and distribution network, Acsys the market leader in securing and controlling remote assets, has abstracted its security and workforce solution to establish a Critical Infrastructure Security that addresses physical security risks and vulnerabilities in addition to controlling the workforce.

The challenge

The high price of power, copper items, transformers, oils or other equipment that can be carried by thieves is an important factor in making distribution substations and cabinets an attractive target. Even if thieves get away unharmed, the safety of the substation and cabinets is compromised in most of the cases leading to injuries and fatalities amongst the maintenance personnel while performing regular maintenance activities.

This white paper, intended for power utility companies, helps mitigates these risks and offers an easy-to-install and affordable solution to protect substation and electrical assets which are mostly remote from the control centre.

The solution

The Acsys IoT Platform provides a total solution that suits all power utility companies tasked with protecting key assets in the remote outdoors even when they are out of power.

The software suite

AcsysX, the flagship software from Acsys Technologies is the management software platform to monitor and control the Access Points and Users.

Each Access Point, such as a door or an asset on site, to be controlled is secured by a programmable mechatronic lock patented by Acsys. Each Acsys lock has a unique ID.

Each User is assigned with his own Acsys’ patented electronic programmable smart key that has a unique ID.

The platform provides an intuitive and comprehensive UI that allows administrators to easily manage the Access Points (Acsys locks) and Users with their Acsys keys.

The software’s reporting tool provides up-to-date information about all activities performed on the software and hardware. Such as Access Logs, Keys and Locks Lists, Deleted Keys and Locks Lists, Transfer Key Operations, Account Operations, User Code Requests, etc. All reports can be exported in multiple formats such as PDF, XLS and CSV formats. Furthermore, the Auto-email Notification Services will send these reports to individual users or user groups on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

A GIS and MIS live dashboard is the focal point for the software. It provides up-to-date real-time information of User activities, Access points Status and Alarm notifications.

User activities, Access points Status: The dashboard has integrated with Google Map GIS system to identify the location of each access point and quickly pin-point the location of each user. The dynamic icons are colour-coded indicating different status which provides the administrator with a complete knowledge and full control over the access points representing substations and assets across the installation. This includes information like when the substation is closed /opened /waiting for maintenance/under maintenance, which technician that’s currently maintaining a specific access point (substation /asset) etc.

CGSPLUS technology

CGSPLUS Code Generating System is a proprietary OTP technology developed by Acsys. It’s an algorithm programmed on the embedded chip inside the key that matches the same sequence of that algorithm installed on the server (CGSPLUS Server). At any given moment, each key ID uses a specific sequence of 10-digits (the CGSPLUS code) that unlocks the key for a specific substation/asset and then expires after 10 minutes. This allows real-time key control. CGSPLUS codes can be requested by SMS or via the Acsys APP.

Acsys BLE Key

This is an Acsys IoT Smart key with BLE (Low-energy Bluetooth) adapter that can be paired with the AcsysMobile BLE AP installed on a Smartphone. It is a world-unique patented Key programming solution designed and developed by Acsys.

It leverages the power of cellular data to download temporary permissions and upload all of the key access logs in Real-Time to the control centre. It is the best answer for job site security, MTTR tracking, and supplier/vendor/contractor management anywhere, anytime, without wires.

Acsys Bluetooth keys are still be used even when the cellular data is not available, the users can still manually punch-in codes they receive via SMS making the solution fully Redundant.

Real-time workforce location

When substation access code is requested through the technician’s mobile phone, his geo-location is immediately sent to the server creating a last-seen location entry in the system. This value is then used for calculating the fastest-route for intervention.


CGSPLUS codes can only be requested within a specific geo-fence of the remote site. The management can set this value from undefined down to a 1meter tolerability forcing the technician to come closer to the site in order to request a CGSPLUS code.

Alarm notifications

The dashboard displays and notifies administrator any unauthorized events and users’ activities. Such as, no guard status (in case this option is enabled), unauthorized access point (substation / asset) request, failed to execute regular preventive maintenance and user key access rights expired, etc.

Case Study

How a major power company in the middle east improved security and productivity with the ACSYS System

To illustrate with an example, a major utility in the Middle East has deployed the Acsys System to a number of their power cabinets and substation assets to address the theft of copper and small portable assets. The company serves several million customers in their territory.

At each substation facility, Acsys high security padlocks deliver an unparalleled security of the substation door(s). High risk sites padlock which are near remote highways, boarder areas are installed with the high security HASP to give additional protection/reinforcement from mainly the external threats.

To provide real-time key control and access point security, the workforce uses the world-unique CGSPLUS system with a geo-fence functionality that allows technicians to activate their smart keys with a random OTP that expires after 10 minutes of arrival, only within 5 metres of the door.

When a technician arrival to the remote substation is detected in real time, the system throws an alert on the Control Room dashboard, reporting the technician identity, the number of personnel on his team, their respective photo IDs and their exact time of arrival. Using this information, the system starts a virtual time counter to track and assess the time taken to finish the maintenance task. All of this information is available on the Dashboard in for live viewing and?management. At the same time, the Control Room automatically notifies early responders and safety officers of an-ongoing maintenance for executing the safety and security drill in case of an on-site incident during the maintenance job.

The utility and their security integrator also reported lower costs associated with the use of the Acsys System. The conventional system called for the usage of conventional mechanical locks which provide no real-security and more importantly no traceability. By selecting a mechatronic locking solution as a first layer of security for their substation doors, they were able to reduce the number keys to match the number of technicians they have instead of having a key for each lock lowering the infrastructure locking maintenance costs when a key is reported lost or stolen. The power company has also reported that the ruggedized form factor of the security HASP has stood up well to many attacks including vandalism or internal tests. The system requires no wiring like standard access control which makes it very easy to install, setup and maintain.

This particular power company plans to continue installing Acsys Mechatronic access points (padlocks, cylinders and on-site accessories) at other sites part of an expansion project in phase-2 happening mid-2018, with emphasis on higher-risk locations.


As defined in the Acsys Security and Workforce Management Solution, the goal for securing and optimising remote substations operations is to employ technology that can provide real-time situation awareness and activity logging. The power company and its associated subcontractors can initiate appropriate and timely response based on the reports and alarms the Acsys system is able to funnel.

Additionally, mobile technologies such as GPS, location check-in, geo-fencing, before/after photos, online manual repositories expand the capabilities of outdoor site(s) and asset(s) security and will soon replace legacy solutions like CCTV, conventional access control, etc.

(Acsys is first and foremost a solution provider. The products are designed to be modular, from keys/locks hardware to software/APP, all Acsys technologies can be swapped out or combined to form the ideal solution for even the most challenging customer requirements.

Acsys Technologies



Roy Bourjeily

Roy Bourjeily, Marketing Manager at Acsys. With a combined experience of 10 years in communication and software development, Roy is now focused on developing marketing strategies for “security and workforce management solutions” at Acsys Technologies.