Utilities Assets and Internet of Things (IoT)—a match made in heaven

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Utilities assets and the Internet of Things? It’s a match made in heaven.

There are so many applications for the Internet of Things (IoT). It’s easy to think of IoT-enabled devices busily at work in the home, the office and on the factory floor.

But if I were asked to name one area above all others for which the technology is best suited, it would have to be the utilities industry.

It stands to reason. The assets held by a utilities business tend to be complex, task-specific and numerous. Now, you may argue that all those factors apply to a manufacturing production line, and you’d be right. But utilities operations are spread over wider geographical areas than those of just about any other industry I can imagine. If you’re in energy or telco or water, to one degree or another your infrastructure is everywhere—which means your assets are too.

That’s why IoT technology is so well suited to the sector. It’s agnostic not only to application, complexity and number but also to distance. It doesn’t mind what a device does or where it is: it will gather the information it generates and deliver it to a central point. From that one point, a single, cloud-based repository can store and analyze data gathered from IoT sensors throughout the enterprise and significantly improve the monitoring and management of all those mission-critical assets.

XIoT-Utility-Asset

Intelligent Asset Monitoring

Here at Capgemini we’ve joined forces with Intel to develop a comprehensive approach to asset tracking. Based on XIoT, it captures different kinds of data from different kinds of sensors, business applications and IoT devices to monitor critical assets such as power quality units, static compensators, transformers and mobile units in power plants. Each device type is calibrated to its own level, so any deviations from normal conditions will trigger an alert for investigation.

Key components of this solution include:

  • Edge Devices: the IoT sensors monitoring performance in the field
  • Edge Gateways: this Intel technology connects and operates with both legacy and new systems to enable seamless and secure data flow between edge devices and the cloud
  • XIoT Edge for Device Connectivity: this edge agent is installed on the gateways and helps identify and provision sensors for data aggregation and transmission to XIoT Middleware
  • XIoT Middleware for Device Management: this Capgemini technology manages data flow from multiple gateways to enable device management and provisioning, firmware upgrades, fleet management, message management, health monitoring and event processing
  • Cyber Security: Intel software is installed on each gateway and in the IoT Middleware in the cloud to provide end-to-end security
  • XIoT Intelligent Asset Monitoring: this Capgemini analytics toolkit helps utilities implement remote visual monitoring and alarm response management across critical assets, including mobile devices.

Benefits

There are several business advantages to an approach like this.

Costs are reduced in field and plant operations by improving reliability and availability. Assets are repaired or replaced when necessary, and not too soon (which wastes time and money) or too late (which risks downtime, and hence also wastes time and money).

As a result of this improved efficiency, safety levels are enhanced—and so too is business competitiveness, because with the greater insight available to it, the organization can plan and manage with greater creativity and confidence, exploring new revenue streams and commercial models.

It’s a scalable and flexible approach that brings together a utility’s diverse asset portfolio into one system, where perhaps for the first time it can be seen, interpreted and managed as a whole. What’s more, because it’s both comprehensive and cloud-based it’s provided on an as-a-service basis, with an end-to-end pricing model. So, businesses have complete insight not just into their data but into the management of their budgets too.

An Invitation

The infrastructure of any utilities organization is vast—too vast, perhaps, to cover in any detail in a blog post such as this. The best I could hope to do here was (a) to defend my contention that IoT and utilities assets were made for each other, and (b) to provide a quick sketch of an enterprise-wide approach that delivers outstanding commercial and customer advantages.

I’d like to think I’ve been able to do both—but even so, I expect you’d like to have a little more detail. If that’s the case, please get in touch. Or why not meet us in person? We’ll be at European Utility Week in Amsterdam. The details are below. I hope to see you there…

Visit us at European Utility Week in Amsterdam (October 3-5). You’ll find us at booth #1H7.

You can also connect with me here.

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