Understanding connected asset lifecycle management

Connected technology is transforming utility asset management

Across all asset-intensive industries, including power and utilities, companies face increasing pressure to do more with less, to enhance customer service, to improve the uptime of assets, and to increase predictability of performance. That requires having access to the right information at the right time, but power and utilities companies have limited knowledge of the all-important component of their business: their assets. Thus, the need for a transformative solution in the form of connected asset lifecycle management (CALM).

Making the connection

The lack of a detailed, end-to-end view of an asset portfolio—or asset lifecycle management—hinders power and utilities companies from achieving true value for the money invested. This creates an environment where reactive maintenance is the norm, and scheduled work cannot be completed as planned.

Companies are increasingly realizing that a coordinated, connected asset management approach is needed to deliver the required change in asset performance and efficiency. This means having operational technology integrated with information technology.

The Internet of Things creates new streams of data that can help decision making and connect assets with other sources of live intelligence.

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Challenges aplenty

While the opportunities are clear for companies seeking to employ connected asset management, the challenges are significant.

Success requires changes not just to operations, but also to culture—as well as the adoption of new ways of working that affect field workers, operators, engineers, asset managers, and others across the whole organization.

Three key challenges should be overcome to prove asset lifecycle management is impactful:

  1. Lack of data. Most power and utilities companies have so many assets under management that it is not uncommon for the condition of some to be unknown. With accurate data on the operational state of assets a prerequisite for effective asset management, many companies are struggling to take a fully integrated approach.
  2. Silo mentality. Many asset managers have been guilty of collecting data in silos. This prevents power and utilities companies from making effective use of the wide range of data they already collect.
  3. Asset strategy. Lacking a holistic view of assets means that decisions on whether to maintain, repair, or replace degrading assets will be taken without an effective asset strategy in place.

Conversely, companies that do successfully deploy connected asset lifecycle management could save up to 15 percent of operational expenditure (OPEX) and up to 8 percent of capital expenditure (CAPEX) by accurately predicting when to replace an asset.

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Key drivers—and the tools to get there

Regulators and other stakeholders are driving power and utilities companies to be more customer-focused, meaning that continuity of supply, affordability, and customer satisfaction are critical components of success.

To keep the asset portfolio performing as necessary, managers should consider all aspects of asset lifecycle management, from investment planning and capital project delivery through to operation and maintenance.

The good news is a variety of tools are available to help them at each stage:

  • Virtual models can help anticipate potential issues, reduce costs, and improve safety and reliability.
  • Capturing physical data from the moment assets are installed improves reliability and allows the assets to be monitored in real time to predict maintenance needs.
  • Predictive analytics can optimize maintenance cycles and prolong asset lifetimes.
  • Analyzing asset information helps inform future upgrade and planning cycles.

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The digital twin

Arguably one of the most important solutions today is the digital twin, a virtual representation of a physical asset.

Enabled by the IoT, the pairing of the virtual and physical worlds allows data to be analyzed and systems to be monitored to head off problems before they even occur.

For power and utilities companies, this means preventing downtime, developing new opportunities, and even planning for the future by using simulations. By moving to a data-centric approach, significant efficiencies can be realized over time.

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What does good look like?

Many benefits can be realized by employing a connected asset lifecycle management approach, including:

  • Enhanced customer satisfaction
  • Legal, regulatory, and statutory compliance
  • Improved safety
  • Improved risk management and corporate governance
  • Best value for money
  • Optimized ROI
  • Enhanced corporate image
  • Sustainability

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