The Energy Blog
Digitalization Is Here – But Out-of-the-Box Won’t Work for Power Utilities
Torsten Wetzel of Power Generation Services sums up his key take-aways from POWER-GEN 2017 in Las Vegas.
It is no longer a secret that digitalization, meaning using all kinds of data for improving operations, is the key to the industry’s future. Everyone I talked to at the Power-Gen conference in Las Vegas was aware of that. Power utilities are even aware of the necessity of data-driven monitoring of all assets. However, the concept needs fine-tuning and an adaptation to the specific requirements of each utility in its market.
The major divide, of course, is between utilities in regulated and deregulated markets. The more deregulated a market is, the more competitive power utilities have to be, which in turn influences their asset management. Usually, very small teams handle this, sometimes just two or three people.
These teams are not looking for out-of-the-box software tools which can be randomly scaled. They are actually looking for very specific solutions that put their customers at the center and, for example, provide just the right information dashboards for solid and efficient decision-making that helps to improve their customer service.
Building frameworks for an integrated in-house & outsourced asset management
For example one independent power producer from North America I was talking to is running five power plants and doing business in a deregulated market. They are doing it in a very lean fashion. They are not only interested in getting a comprehensive view of their fleet, but are also ready to outsource specific management tasks.
Huge power utilities usually have vast monitoring & diagnostic centers with numerous experts. Smaller power utilities cannot afford this. That’s why this North American IPP had to develop an own asset management strategy. They are running business-critical tasks such as performance management and maintenance management internally, but are thinking about outsourcing certain functionalities which require intensive knowledge such as diagnostic services incl. anomaly detection.
Cloud-based solutions can be an interesting option here. But of course, they need to be 100 percent reliable and safe.
Vendor-agnostic fleet center management for maximum adaptability
Siemens looks like an interesting partner to many power utilities because we don’t sell ready-made packages. We developed a vast array of tools especially for usage in power generation fleets which can be combined in different ways to meet every client’s unique requirements – without regard to the original equipment that they are using. Our solutions are vendor-agnostic and our starting point is not a given software solution, but the look at a client’s infrastructure and market.
The client defines the information that is absolutely critical for them to know. Is it the status of their assets? Their reliability performance? Is it the costs of energy production? The costs of maintenance?
The goal is a customized software solution. Digitalization is like a journey with many stops. And I like accompanying utilities on this journey.
Visit the Fleet Center Solutions website for more info: