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The industry is experiencing a rapid transformation, evolving to an intelligent, sustainable business model while maintaining existing services to communities and partners.  

As discussed at a recent webinar facilitated by IDC, it’s an exciting time. Never before has technology served as such an important enabler as utilities digitally transform to accommodate the new order. 

The data imperative

As with most technological advances, data plays a critical role—a commodity in abundant supply within the industry. 

With so much data, utilities employ asset performance management (APM) to support the transition to a sustainable business model. The technology taps into tactical and strategic information from enterprise asset management (EAM) systems, combining it with risk and cost data to connect business objectives with business infrastructure. The result? Greater control and efficiencies across the operation. 

While other market segments, such as manufacturing, have been using APM for some time, utilities are starting to adopt the technology in earnest, with plenty of pilots underway. 

APM early adopter use cases

IFS utility customers leverage APM capabilities for a variety of use cases. Here are three of the most popular: 

          1. Leak monitoring 

According to the Federal Energy Management Program, the US loses 2 trillion gallons of treated drinking water yearly, often caused by undetected leaks due to water main breaks.

When you consider that only 0.5% of water on the planet is useable, and with climate change dangerously affecting the supply, managing this resource is one of the industry’s most important responsibilities.  

Leak detection is also relevant for gas transmission. Although not as chronic and costly as water, gas seepage presents its own set of dangerous challenges. 

While water and gas leak surveys have been in use for some time, with APM, IFS customers can access additional data, for example, pressure readings within pipes, often a precursor to an impending or existing leak.  

APM enables flow, volume, and pressure monitoring in real-time. Coupled with insights into the infrastructure’s condition, utilities can easily detect (and prevent) leak scenarios. 

          2. Anomaly detection 

Anomaly detection plays a critical role in risk management within the enterprise. Depending upon the root cause, anomalous conditions can include abnormal energy usage, asset underperformance, malfunctioning equipment, and other exceptions.   

Critical KPIs may also be applied to anomaly detection workflows, for example, excessive carbon emissions, suboptimal performance, restricted or excessive flow rates, and other criteria. 

It’s also important to recognize that the power grid itself is undergoing dramatic change due to the increased use of distributed energy sources (DERs), electric vehicles, and renewables. These new networks collect actionable data from across the grid, channeling the information for real-time situational awareness. This new workflow necessitates a different methodology to monitor grid degradation and prevent asset failures. 

Anomaly detection models, fed from grid operation centers, automatically learn normal asset behavior based on time-series data generated by the asset. This sophisticated modeling technique uses historical data to forecast how the asset will look in the future. If the real time asset data deviates from the forecasted value, the issue is flagged and a notification process is initiated based on the significance of the anomaly. 

By leveraging sensors and analytics to project the wear and degradation of assets, failures are predicted before they can occur. With a well-designed APM solution, anomaly detection follows a prescriptive approach, automatically triggering recommended actions that align with the severity of the alert. 

          3. Resource management 

With so much change underway, it’s no surprise that utilities face an ever-increasing cadence of repair and maintenance tasks. As new digital technologies are enabled, existing infrastructure must also be supported.  

This duality of purpose—balancing the status quo with the new—also presents staffing challenges, with 56% of energy recruiters concerned with a widening skills gap and aging demographic. 

Amid a chronic skills shortage, utilities are pressed to train and acquire technical workers knowledgeable in the new systems.

IFS customers leverage APM to extend the capabilities of their existing workforce, creating efficiencies across the operation.  

Using data from multiple systems, service and support decisions are informed by real-time information. What are the critical repairs that most impact productivity? Which workers are qualified to do the work? Where are they located? Do they have the necessary tools and parts to perform the work? 

With APM, workforce efficiencies are optimized, replacing costly reactive service calls with strategic, real-time service management. 

These are just a few examples of APM’s expanding role within the industry during a time of critical change. As utilities evolve technologically to support a sustainable future, so must the systems we rely upon.  

Our recent webinar, Leveraging APM to Connect with Strategic Objectives, features experts from the industry and was moderated by Mickey North Rizza, Group Vice-President Enterprise Software at IDC. Access a free recording of the webinar and learn how APM will support your utility’s transition as the industry evolves. 

Read the IDC Analyst Connection on this topic 

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