Smart grids: turning complex data into clear and actionable intelligence

Utility analytics provide meaningful information to utility engineers that help them to avoid unplanned outages, especially cata­strophic failures

The electrical power industry is asset intensive and saddled with an aging infrastructure. Meanwhile, improved asset monitoring and communications are delivering an overwhelming flow of data. An effective asset health management system utilizes this data to achieve real-time performance analysis, empowering utilities to make sound decisions about these critical assets.

Utilities today are facing tighter operational and man­agement budgets, aging infrastruc­ture, and a drain of technical exper­tise as more utility workers qualify for retirement. Asset health manage­ment integrates equipment-based op­erational experience, manufacturing knowledge, maintenance and diag­nostics expertise with enterprise-level information technology to enhance the reliability and performance of grid assets. The asset health management process includes sensors and moni­toring; the capture and management of data from disparate systems; busi­ness intelligence functions to provide trending, alarming, dashboards, and system integration; and the analyt­ics and performance models to drive condition-based maintenance. This last element is particularly valuable in that it allows utilities to perform maintenance based on the actual health of assets, taking into account their criticality to the system and an estimate of total risk of failure, as op­posed to simply performing routine procedures at regular intervals wheth­er actually needed or not.

Utility analytics provide persistent, meaningful information to utility engineers that help them to avoid unplanned outages, especially cata­strophic failures. It also provides a tool to measure the impact of mainte­nance practices and decisions, and to comply with regulatory requirements. In that sense, they are very much cen­tral to the utility both figuratively and literally.

An asset health management system is the epitome of true OT/IT convergence, integrating existing monitoring infrastructure and systems with business intelligence, transforming operational data into actionable information.

Categories and Tags
About the author

Gary Rackliffe

Hello, I lead Smart Grid Development for ABB North America. I have more than 25 years of industry experience in both transmission and distribution (T&D) and have worked with ABB for 19 years across a variety of positions. I hold a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electric power engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA degree from Carnegie Mellon University.
Comment on this article