With all the oohing and aahing over advanced analytics in areas like grid optimization and engaging customers, folks in asset management analytics have admitted to me that they can feel a little left out. Well, we certainly don't want folks to feel left behind, so here's a shout out to all the folks working in asset optimization. Let's take a little bit closer look at asset optimization analytics, and run through some of our findings from the Institute's forthcoming Analytics Case Studies and Best Practices report.
Asset optimization analytics assist with optimizing the performance and reliability of grid assets. This area includes categories such as transformer management, substation management and overall transmission and distribution asset management. Approximately 64 percent of North American utility companies have some sort of grid analytics initiative and, of those utilities that are taking on an initiative, approximately 17 percent are making asset optimization their primary focus.
So we know about asset optimization and what utilities are doing in the area, but how advanced are they with those initiatives? And what are some best practices we can draw from utilities that are diving into this space?
Analytics value curve analysis
With asset optimization, the focus is on getting the right data in place and ensuring its quality. Ongoing smart grid and grid optimization analytics efforts may move utilities into more advanced stages of the utility analytics value curve, but for now, most utilities are squarely focused on asset data and its organization and accessibility, along with some predictive modeling based on historical data. (For more information about the utility analytics value curve, see Mike Smith's most recent article.)
Some key themes from our asset optimization case studies in the upcoming report include:
- Hardware and software specific to asset optimization analytics are not being used at this point; many utilities are leveraging existing systems. GIS and asset management systems rule the roost for analytics usage, due in part to limited resources for these projects.
- Data quality and accounting for all assets is paramount.
- Utilities are striving to deliver real-time data to people, but not always real-time analysis.
- Smart grid is spurring the investment in asset management analytics by necessity.
What all this means in terms of best practices
- Technology. Ensure that assets are categorized in a way that can be maintained effectively and that your technologies can support the level of granularity needed. Analysis must be applied to information to make it useful, but you must ensure that the quality of the information is good.
- Business process. Conduct asset management at a more granular level by basing management on individual assets versus asset categories or classes. You will have to keep beating down silos within your company; it is not a one-time effort. Plan for maintaining and analyzing new digital assets as well. Lean toward automated collection of asset information to reduce the lag time between gathering information and making it available for analysis and to minimize the possibility for human error.
- Strategy. Tie your asset management analytics work into smart grid efforts. Capital reduction, or the use of analytics to ensure you're not putting in oversized equipment, is another possibility for justifying investments in asset optimization analytics.
- People. Change management is a particularly important component for asset optimization analytics, with buy-in from the field being paramount. The primary focus is to have staff understand and use increased data and analytics capabilities.
So that's some of what we're seeing in asset optimization today, and this story won't be a one-hit wonder for the topic. We're definitely covering asset optimization in the future. We'll be covering asset optimization and other analytics areas in our upcoming Analytics Case Studies and Best Practices webcast on August 29, 2012 and at the Utility Analytics Week event in September under our grid analytics track, just to name a few.
Thanks for reading!
H. Christine Richards is a director of the Utility Analytics Institute, a division of Energy Central. You may reach her at email@example.com.