Engineer innovates through AI, wins International Award

by Admin-Phmp

A quiet man with a few words, Engineer Mark Anthony Catalan is notable for the projects and innovations he has contributed to the AboitizPower subsidiary, Davao Light and Power Co., Inc. (Davao Light), in the 15 years he has worked in the power utility company.

His name is often heard by his peers in the engineering department, as his unique and innovative way of thinking has left a mark on the company.  He is often seen tinkering around on his computer, busy with his new projects. 

His most recent accomplishment to date, along with Aboitiz Data Innovation Pte. Ltd. (ADI), is winning the Asian Technology Excellence Awards 2023, an international award, for his Project A.I. CU (“I see you”). Similar to a feature on Facebook, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) application scans the images taken of different assets of Davao Light and matches them according to their Compatible Units (CU). 

“Imagine the assets – the pole, transformer, power lines – as individual ingredients to a recipe. Instead of manually identifying these ingredients one by one, the AI can automatically group them together in one compatible unit, so when we log these assets in our system, they are labeled by their ‘recipe’ and not by individual materials, saving time for both monitoring and ordering of replacements,” he explained the gist of the project. 

Engr. Mark further described that currently, different CU experts are assigned to identify the different parts of an asset of Davao Light.  Engr. Mark elaborated that in the existing process, various CU experts are designated to identify distinct parts of an asset of Davao Light. While this system has worked efficiently, there’s always room for enhanced accuracy, especially given the specialized focus of individual CU experts on specific voltage lines.

Identifying these CUs is essential to accurately declare Davao Light’s assets as regulated by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). “Basically, how we charge our customers for the distribution cost depends on our declared assets. This is highly regulated by the ERC,” Catalan added. This is beneficial to customers because they are assured that they are being charged correctly based on the services they avail from Davao Light. 

“Our team was from different departments which enriched our project from multiple angles. The synergy between Eric Camerino, Jeffrey Lingatong, Raquel Caro, Russel Bolivar, and Prince Yamyamin allowed us to push the boundaries of innovation,” Mark recognized the other innovators of the project. 

Moreover, Mark also pioneered many successful projects such as the Underground Cabling project at the City Hall Drive, and introduced the idea of digitalizing Davao Light’s substations. 

Sharing his experience in the pilot implementation of the underground cabling project, Mark shared that it was his first assignment after transferring to the Power Systems Design Department of Davao Light. “It was really extensive since it was the first time we were doing it. That’s why it was so rewarding when it was energized,” Mark said in an interview.

Additionally, years before its implementation, Mark had proposed the idea of digitalizing Davao Light’s substations by introducing a protocol or language for the devices to communicate. “In 2014, I was involved in the implementation of this protocol at both Sta. Ana and Victoria substations. This innovative venture marked a significant shift, setting a new standard as it became our de-facto protocol for our digital substations,” Mark said that it was the trajectory of the company to modernize its substations whether he kickstarted the idea or not.

Mark started venturing to AI with the question, “What is the optimal time for me to go to work on time, without being too early?” He tracked his route from his house to the office every day to gather data, noting different routes, different weather conditions, and different activities in the city. He was not able to complete the project, as it lacked a lot of data. However, Mark shared his thoughts about AI after his project,  “I like how the barrier to entry to technology is significantly reduced by AI.”

Currently, Mark has several ongoing projects to improve the current processes in Davao Light, in order to give the customers better service. “You’ll find a way if you really like something,” Mark said when asked how he juggles his role as a Supervisor of the Power Metering Department and his other projects. 

“I want to influence others to take advantage of the new technology. Our country is not far behind when it comes to AI. The internet makes everything possible now,” Mark aims to influence others to not be afraid to use AI. 

Mark was a Davao Light scholar during his 5th year in Electrical Engineering at Mindanao State University – Marawi.  (PR)

Photo caption: 

Engr. Mark Anthony Catalan received the award for the Asian Technology Excellence Awards 2023 with Davao Light’s President and COO Rodger Velasco on September 18, 2023 in Bangkok, Thailand.

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