With the emergence of new renewable power generation technologies and storage solutions, it’s an exciting time to be in the energy industry. Ahead of his presentation at the Asset Management for Critical Infrastructure Conference, running 20–21 August in Sydney, we spoke with Carlos Gamez, Strategic Asset Performance Manager at Western Power, about current opportunities and challenges in energy asset management and the utility’s new Digital Asset Management Strategy.
As an electro-mechanical engineer, Carlos knows that there is a strong onus on asset managers to ensure that processes and frameworks not only keep up with the newest developments, but capitalise on them to best meet the changing energy needs of customers.
He said that beyond the uptake of new technologies, the electrification of the transport industry is set to drive further changes in the sector more broadly.
For Mr Gamez, these conditions cumulatively create a new context which has not existed in the past hundred years of the electrical energy industry.
The challenge: integrate new technologies
Greeted with new technological developments, Mr Gamez describes a kind of duet for asset managers: they must understand the capabilities of new technologies, and know the capacity to integrate them into their business processes.
When discussing the challenges and opportunities presented to asset management professionals, Mr Gamez has observed the same patterns of debate in the industry.
“As is often the case with innovative solutions, the conversation in this space is filled with new terms, ideas at varying levels of maturity, and a multitude of offerings to solve similar problems,” he said.
“Sifting through all the available information in order to determine the most suitable solution for a particular problem can be a challenge.
“At the same time, the capacity of the organisation to adapt current business processes and systems needs to be considered when implementing these new technologies.”
One approach in this space that Mr Gamez believes is showing promising results is that of running trial or pilot projects.
“In these projects, a business challenge is chosen and a number of technologies are trialled in pursuit of an optimal solution for that challenge,” he said.
“These trials then inform the business case and the management of change that needs to be followed to scale these solutions.”
Building a digital asset management framework
In his work at Western Power, Mr Gamez guided one such trial toward successful outcomes.
Drawing on over 20 years’ experience across a vast range of engineering, management and process improvement areas, he oversaw the creation of a Digital Asset Management Strategy to prepare the organisation for future trends in the energy sector.
“As part of this, we’re exploring and implementing the use of technological innovations that enable us to manage assets in a way that drives increased value for our customers.”
Mr Gamez explained that one of the core aspects of digital asset management involves the use of traditional asset management concepts in the context of the new technological solutions available in the market.
In order to render the best value for their organisation and their customers, asset managers must ensure they apply sound engineering principles, with the support of new technologies.
“Our Digital Asset Management Framework is used to support actionable asset management decisions, starting with reliability-centred maintenance concepts and going through the capture of data, asset performance modelling and visualisation of outcomes,” he said.
Ultimately, Mr Gamez said that the work of asset managers creates clearer, more ordered and efficient strategies to embrace changes: all for the better for the 1.1 million Western Australians Western Power is there to serve.
“Asset management provides a framework of methodical thinking, processes and systems that will help us navigate this transition period and arrive at the future asset configuration that best serves our customers and our community,” he said.
Hear more from Carlos Gamez in his presentation at the 2019 Asset Management for Critical Infrastructure Conference, running from 20–21 August in Sydney. Register at assetmanagementevent.com.au/buy-tickets.