Utilities house pools of data in the Internet ecosystem, striving for efficiencies.
Ken Silverstein is editor-in-chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When the National Grid sought to reduce its operating expenses, it shot for the moon. Actually, it reached for the "cloud" - the so-called Internet of Things.
The term refers to the linkage of a wide range of Internet-connected devices that are able to conform to a common platform and that are able to communicate and share data. The information is stored in a data center, where company personnel or outside analysts can access it and make better business decisions, even going so far as to curb maintenance costs through early detection technologies.
Power grid operators traditionally have relied on scheduled asset maintenance to keep the lines open and the power on - all based on "silos" of data compilation, as opposed to a holistic aggregation and analysis. That has made it difficult to assimilate the plethora of information coming at them.
Now, though, with cloud-based solutions that can store and analyze big data, those same professionals have a 360-degree view of their assets - everything from the transformer to the entire grid. Such views are in both real-time and over prolonged times so as to make long-term projections.
"The company can now plan maintenance for each asset on an as-needed basis, rather than scheduling simultaneous maintenance for all assets, adding to cost reductions," says Etienne Pelletier, senior product manager for IBM's energy and utilities software.