Can Digitalization Really Lead to Better Performance for Utilities?

Can digitalization really lead to better performance for Utilities? Building a data-led performance strategy.

Success in asset-intensive utilities is dependent on the reliability of critical assets. Many utilities today struggle with assets that are near or even past their expected life, and significant resources are put into trying to prolong the equipment lifespan. Many maintenance programs are still done with a time- or usage-based approach, and this means that visibility into real- time conditions that could impact the risk of failure may not be considered. When the asset’s condition is not taken into consideration as part of asset maintenance and management, unnecessary maintenance may be performed.

Unnecessary maintenance is an additional cost that could have been avoided. Based on data from Shell Group, 68% of time- based maintenance provides no added value and/or does not lead to any corrective action. Additionally, every time you perform maintenance, you may generate additional and unintended equipment failures as a consequence of the maintenance performed. A catastrophic transformer failure, for example, can cost anywhere between 3 and 10 times the cost  of the equipment itself — in some cases, the failure and related substation damage can cost as much as $25 million USD. And this is just the financial cost; there is also an increased risk of work crew safety, regulatory fines, environmental risk and a company’s reputation to consider when thousands of customers can be affected by a single outage.

The good news is there is a better way to approach asset management and maintenance.

Today, many utilities approach asset health with an ad hoc mix of information from multiple sources, like time- and usage-based inspection data, alarms from remote sensors, and industrial enterprise systems.  Often, this data is trapped in functional silos across the business and utilities rely heavily on human experts to manually review this data to identify trends and address the highest risks of failure across the asset portfolio. As more of these experts retire, utilities will need to preserve this expertise.

ABB Ability Asset Performance Management combine decades of subject matter expertise in transformer manufacturing and maintenance, with historical and real-time data analysis. By integrating operational technology with its information technology, organizations have the ability to consolidate the wealth of data on system loads, inspections and equipment sensors into meaningful insights on the health of their critical assets.

Using this improved level of insight, utilities can take immediate action to prioritize their response and resources. Organizations can optimize their maintenance spend to get the most from their assets and budget, build business cases for repair/replace decisions and codify the expertise of staff in order to make it accessible for new employees and even maintenance outsource partners.

Some of the expected benefits of deploying an asset health strategy to critical infrastructure include:

  • Fewer catastrophic equipment failures
  • Better optimization of operating costs
  • Extended asset life
  • Optimized asset replacement planning
  • Reduced unplanned outages
  • Increased safety
  • Enhanced regulatory compliance and reporting

The future of Asset Performance Management

In practice, APM will lead to enhanced knowledge where the most valuable assets are mapped and categorized according to their current states and expected lifetime. The result is a reduced risk of critical asset failure by combining many types of asset data to form predictive and actionable intelligence around the health of critical assets.  Aging equipment is a long-term challenge for many electric utilities, maintaining and extending the life of new infrastructure is a challenge for others. Utilities with either of these issues will require focused and consistent efforts — along with innovative technology — to meet both current and future challenges.

Fortunately, technology now exists within ABB’s Asset Management Solutions, offering an end-to-end asset health management system that manages the vast amounts of information utilities have on their assets. ABB’s Asset Management Solutions provide a view of assets in one place with predictive asset health management with actionable data, not alerts.  This is supported by decades of experience from manufacturing and subject matter experts. ABB’s Asset Management Solutions reduce operating and maintenance costs and reduce capital expenditures, maximizing its value throughout the enterprise.

About the Enterprise Software Product Group within ABB 

We provide industry leading software and deep domain expertise to help the world’s most asset intensive industries such as energy, transportation, utilities and mining solve their biggest challenges, from plant level, to regional network scale, to global fleet-wide operations.  Our enterprise software portfolio offers an unparalleled range of solutions for asset performance management, operations and workforce management, network control and energy portfolio management to help customers reach new levels of efficiency, reliability, safety and sustainability. We are constantly researching and incorporating the latest technology innovations in areas such as mobility, analytics and cloud computing. We provide unmatched capabilities to integrate information technologies (IT) and operational technologies (OT) to provide complete solutions to our customers’ business problems.

Learn how ABB can help you.

Previous articleSilicon Valley Power to Fuel Theme Park with Renewable Energy
Next articleFurther Thoughts on the Economics of Losing the Federal Solar Tax Credit

No posts to display