by Brad Williams, Vice President Industry Strategy, Oracle Utilities Global Business Unit

Brad-WilliamsAs utility workforces and infrastructure continue to age, the importance of asset management increases. The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Investment Outlook 2014, says US$740 billion in power infrastructure investment is required globally over the next 20 years.

So, how can optimising existing utility assets help, and where do the most critical areas for improvement lie?

Ageing infrastructure is creating a growing risk for utilities at a pace which asset replacement budgets can’t maintain. Many utility assets in operation today were installed in the growth boom of the 1960s-1970s and are no longer valuable. This is why asset optimisation is mission-critical for utilities; however, many are not yet realising the business value it will provide. One of the biggest areas where improvement is vital is using asset analytics to drive reliable maintenance programs. A manual approach to asset management in the face of ageing infrastructure and workforce increases the likelihood of device failures, leading to higher costs to the utility. This can be prevented if given more timely maintenance.

In order to gain a holistic view of asset management, better visibility and sharing of asset data across the enterprise is needed. Automation and analytics can provide actionable data for utilities to leverage in order to strike the correct balance between optimising the availability of the assets against cost constraints. For example, utilities can leverage detailed usage and weather data to help identify overloaded transformers and better prepare field employees for specific replacement situations. This ability to effectively mitigate a problem while it is still minor also saves on costs, helping utilities to better maintain corporate financial targets.

Essentially, asset risk management requires a strong focus on asset optimisation. With readily available enterprise data on different assets, utilities can leverage proactive insights to make well-informed decisions on best action for each particular asset, helping to manage and minimise risk.

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