IBM has announced a new cloud-based analytics platform for Energy and Utility companies designed to improve decision-making throughout the entire energy ecosystem. The new solution helps remove the financial barriers to using analytics across energy generation, transmission and distribution while delivering a new level of situational awareness from massive volumes of data.

Energy and Utility companies are challenged to continuously deliver reliable, affordable and sustainable energy in an increasingly competitive market. This is putting enormous pressure on the industry that can only be overcome through flexible, scalable and data-driven insights to modernize the utility network and improve power generation.

IBM Insights Foundation for Energy can be used to get a 360-degree view from the individual transformer level to the entire grid. Securely delivered via the SoftLayer infrastructure from IBM, the complete platform couples software for data integration and visualization with advanced analytics to enable better decision-making about maintenance and repairs. It also enables renewable forecasting and integration to the network as well as supporting custom analytics development so it can be tailored to meet the specific needs of each Energy and Utilities provider. 

Built in asset analytics includes insights for enabling predictive maintenance, measuring asset health, and assessing risk and consequences in real-time. It can display all information about an asset in one place including data history, maintenance records and operating condition data to improve planning, construction, operations and maintenance using both open source and proprietary data. The new platform can be used to help utilities shift from traditional and costly time-based asset management -- where network repairs are done on schedule regardless of how much useful life is left in an asset -- to a more informed reliability-based approach of making repairs when they are actually needed.

National Grid, which operates the high voltage power transmission network for England and Wales, worked with IBM to improve decision making around asset health and maintenance policies.  "We needed the ability to sweep up all the data on our assets across 350 different sites and bring that together into a single portal to then do further analysis and deliver value for customers moving forward," said David Wright, director of electricity transmission asset management, National Grid. 

Working with IBM, National Grid has since shifted to condition-based preventive maintenance without having to replace their existing enterprise asset management system. Also, as part of a regulatory commitment to reduce costs, National Grid is benefitting from analytics based asset management by reducing operating expenditure while maintaining grid reliability and availability. This project is representative of challenges most utilities face and was a key driver for making Insights Foundation for Energy available to utilities worldwide.

"We have a place you go where you can see everything you want to know about the assets. We are also getting the ability to see asset conditions — a really useful way for us to manage risk in this business," said Jon Fenn, head of network engineering, National Grid.

Using analytics and visualization to improve situational awareness, utilities can better understand factors affecting asset performance and more accurately project how much useful life remains or what other points in the grid could be affected by an outage.

"IBM Insights Foundation for Energy centers on the idea that the energy and utilities industry is undergoing a fundamental transformation from generation to supply. Utilities need flexible and comprehensive tools to help simplify the complexity, exploit the volumes of data, and create a profound shift in how they operate day-to-day," said Brad Gammons, general manager, Energy and Utilities Industry at IBM. "Using a proven software foundation, we can deliver essential analysis to improve and automate complex decision-making that translates into near-real-time insights for energy companies."


This article was originally posted “IBM Announces Cloud-Based Enterprise-Wide Analytics For Energy Companies” from Cloud Strategy Magazine.