The Utility Industry is liable for enabling seamless, reliable and affordable services for their target communities, but without wielding technological solutions, meeting top-notch service standards is impossible. One of the most disruptive challenges faced by utility service providers of the digital age is harnessing emerging new-age technologies to reshape and accelerate their digital transformation processes. Having optimised reliability, safety and efficiency in mind, how can utility companies modernise their operations using modern technological solutions? This article is a quick read that guides the reader in understanding the not-to-be-missed modern technologies harnessed by utility service providers worldwide.
The non-traditional utility service enablers were shifted to a customer-led approach with the evolution of technological solutions. With climatic changes, political influences and the disruptions made by Industry 4.0, most utility providers had to face challenges in being resilient to the volatility of this industry. Here are some of the most common challenges that modern utility service providers have to mitigate in order to meet their desired service standards.
Most industrial players misunderstand digital twins as merely upgraded digital replicas of critical assets like fans, turbines, bridges, buildings and other physical assets. In practicality, Digital Twin Technology is that and more! In the energy and utility domain, the Digital Twin Technology plays a significant role in enabling data collection, predicting and prescribing via actionable insights, simulating asset-based events and, of course, enabling 3D twinning capabilities. This technology might not be entirely new to utility practitioners, but it is undoubtedly one of the cutting-edge technological capabilities that cannot be missed by most utility specialists. As the utility industry is home to many asset-intensive industrial leaders, this technology remains an indispensable technological choice. It fuels the asset management efforts of this industry with precise asset visualisation and analytics, eliminating data sharing barriers and encouraging innovation and efficiency with better transition and asset performances.
The predictive technologies powered up a suite of technological tools that users can use to explore structural issues, apprehend actual conditions of assets, and scaffold decision-making processes with resourceful and futureproof insights. These technologies can illustrate ageing patterns, risks and negative trends of assets like clamps, pipes, gauges, machines, valves, levers or other critical asset components to predict breakdown, leaks, risk or worst-case scenario, explosions. Latest predictive technologies and benchmarking tools are now adapted to suffice many asset management and maintenance requirements in the utility service sector. These technologies use predictive algorithms to train AI models with historical asset-related data (like synthetic data, external data, asset parameters and more) to create risk models and prioritise risk levels for innovative predictive technologies.
The predictive technology also urges the use of prescriptive analytical capabilities in this industry. It extends the predictive capabilities a step further by weighing interactions that can be followed by the user to help him or her isolate the ideal approach to handle a probable situation. Together with advice, automation and optimisation, this technology becomes a brilliant analytical counterpart for process-intensive utility companies.
The IoT technologies boost utility industry players to overcome innovation lags by enabling incredible utility efforts. It interconnects all components, systems, processes, people and each and every ‘thing’ in an ecosystem to promote interoperability and transparency at every end. The IoT technology is harnessed by almost every modernisation program initiated in the utility enterprise worldwide. It opens up a wide array of advantages for all key stakeholders in the utility ecosystems. Some of the benefits of using IoT in this industrial sector are confidence in safety, cost-efficiency, overall outlook on noteworthy processes, advanced price modelling, assured sustainability, new-age analytical capabilities, better visibility and transparency of operations, better compliance with regulations and more. It empowers smart sensors and meters, increases efficiency and profit with smart process automation, and allows utility managers to monitor service usages to anticipate demands of the future too. In short, this technology is a must-be-used technological capability to optimise outage management, utility assets and improve the data-driven culture of any utility establishment.
Virtual immersion technologies like AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) technologies play a pivotal role in the training and safety sector in the utility industry. These technologies can allow the trainees to experience a personal guided tour in exploring damaged components and gain insights on how to probe a damaged piece or replace it. This technology can give the needful exposure required by trainees and employees to evade hazardous and harmful experiences in operating infrastructures and hone their skills to maintain physical assets to streamline services without any hindrance.
The Utility Service Enablers harness cloud-based technologies like hybrid cloud platforms, integration platforms and other cloud-driven initiatives to stay connected with their ecosystems. These technologies have encouraged decision-makers to flexibly and collaboratively make shared decisions by accommodating cloud services to promote five-star collaborative virtual workspaces and communication systems. With upcoming technological advancements like 5G, these agile response-based technological luxuries will only develop to be better, more transparent, faster and laggard-free. Responsive technologies empower efficiency and have personalisation capabilities to meet the signature needs of various utility service enablers too.
Robotic Process Automation or RPA plays a vital role in the Energy and Utility Industry for it enhances customer experiences and boosts efficiency in managing transactions. This technology contributes by narrowing down the TAT (Turnaround Time) even during overwhelming workloads and high volume transactions. It automates iterating operational, administrative and managerial processes, for instance, payroll transactions, IT backup operations, repeating operating process trends and more. RPA is most acknowledged by energy and utilities industrial giants in setting up new accounts under strict processes, validating meter readings and gathering unique, actionable insights by offering personalised value to each touchpoint. Therefore, this technology allows the user to reinvent and configure innovative transactional relationships with customers to revamp sound brand entrances and nurture client trust and integrity.
All industrial spheres are experiencing disruptive and rapid changes due to cybersecurity measures, remote working requirements, and other unique, considerable disruptions in the past decade. Therefore, leveraging the latest technologies help is simply quintessential. Technology does not only provide a utility organisation with a digital frontier; it takes an establishment beyond that by allowing it to map lucrative futures using modern technological tools and features. Therefore, to stay intact and resilient to disruptive waves in the market, utility technologies are destined to be continuously advanced and be ahead of the curve amidst a busy competitive environment. Thus technological upgrades and the growth utility industry are now and forever inseparable.