IBM Delivers Analytics for Energy Companies

IBM launched new cloud-based analytics platform to help energy and utility companies cut costs and make better decisions.

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IBM announced a new cloud-based analytics platform for energy and utility companies designed to improve decision-making throughout the entire energy ecosystem.

Known as IBM Insights Foundation for Energy, the new platform provides users with a 360-degree view, from the individual transformer level to the entire grid.

Delivered via IBM’s SoftLayer cloud infrastructure, the platform couples software for data integration and visualization with analytics to enable better decision-making about maintenance and repairs. It also enables renewable forecasting and integration to the network plus supports custom analytics development so it can be tailored to meet the specific needs of each energy and utilities provider.

The new offering aims to help remove some of 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.

“IBM Insights Foundation for Energy centers on the idea that the energy and utilities industry is undergoing a fundamental transformation from generation to supply,” said Brad Gammons, general manager of the Energy and Utilities Industry group at IBM. “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. 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.”

Asset analytics built into the platform include 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.

IBM said the new platform can be used to help utilities shift from traditional 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 for 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.

Working with IBM, National Grid has since shifted to condition-based preventive maintenance without having to replace its 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 utilities face and was a key driver for making Insights Foundation for Energy available to utilities worldwide, IBM said.

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