Mar 25 2022

Why Utilities Should Prioritize Asset Management

As organizations add digital assets along their digital transformation journey, managing them requires a plan.

The world we live in continues to become more digital, and organizations wishing to remain competitive are looking to technology for their success — and sometimes for their sheer survival. Companies in all industries must invest in innovative solutions to keep pace, but managing those technology investments can be daunting.  

A recent Deloitte report notes that this accumulation of IT assets is impacting the utility sector. The report notes the need for power companies to have frameworks for managing assets, both digital and physical, as the industry moves to use more renewable sources of energy:

“This translates into a newer, more diverse set of assets to manage and integrate with the rapidly aging set of existing assets … ​​But moving to cleaner power sources while boosting reliability, resilience and security is a tall order. To achieve this, companies will likely need to move away from traditional asset management strategies and develop comprehensive digital strategies with robust data governance and cybersecurity at the core.”

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Digital Transformation Efforts Should Plan for Asset Management

According to the report, “most electricity providers are still only dabbling in digital, and not approaching digital transformation with the comprehensive, holistic view that could make it a game changer to unlock the full range of benefits.”

Still, the report points out that as digital assets have steadily proliferated, tools and technologies to manage them have advanced as well. It highlights the use of smart sensors to gather metrics; communications technologies being used for faster data transfer; and artificial intelligence, which can be used to predict future behavior. All these forms of technology offer new ways to manage assets.

“And improved asset management can help boost operational efficiencies, save costs, increase asset life expectancy, improve reliability, and enhance safety. But realizing these benefits through digital transformation requires a comprehensive framework, and like most good journeys, it begins with a road map,” the report notes.

MORE FOR UTILITIES: Find out how AI can unleash the power and value of data for power companies.

How Utilities Can Develop a Framework for Asset Management

In addition to the industry’s expanding mix of digital assets, Deloitte identifies five key challenges that are intensifying the need for power providers to develop new asset management strategies. They include the increasing severity of storms and disasters, mounting public health and demand challenges, aging assets, rising cyberthreats and physical threats, and increasing regulatory scrutiny and mandates.

Further complicating the management of IT assets, power providers are grappling with new technologies required by the increased use of renewable energy sources. “With the growth of renewables and distributed energy resources (DER), utilities are managing 10 times more assets than they were managing 20 years ago and assets will likely continue to grow,” the report notes.

However, innovative tech tools can help maintain IT assets being used in power generation, especially as more providers integrate cleaner energy sources, such as wind and solar. “Digital asset management can enhance performance by informing plant design and enabling health monitoring; reducing operations and maintenance (O&M) costs; and boosting reliability, availability, and profitability,” Deloitte notes.

Companies such as Adobe and IBM offer platforms that can alleviate the burden of asset management. Forrester named Adobe a leader for digital asset management in 2022. And IBM offers solutions specifically tailored to the management of assets in the utility sector.

READ MORE: Learn how technology can help stabilize the electrical grid.

Digital Transformation Brings Resilience to the Power Grid 

IT asset management is a critical part of any organization’s digital transformation journey. In addition to the benefits it offers to individual companies, the modernization and maintenance of digital assets is a key part of ensuring the reliability of the power grid.

According to Deloitte, the power transmission and distribution system “is especially difficult to monitor and the stakes of missing something can be high. That may explain why the segment has a keen interest in advanced monitoring and inspection technologies to help ensure reliability, boost resilience, and reduce costs.”

Despite the growing use of sensors, smart meters and other intelligent devices, utilities continue to struggle with collecting data from multiple assets for the purposes of monitoring and analysis. The report notes that “utilities often lack the cloud capabilities required to derive actionable insights in real time from the growing web of connected assets and the data they generate.”

Technological innovations will continue to address these challenges. The report predicts that, in the coming years, the power sector will increase its use of cloud storage and analytics solutions to generate actionable insights in real time. In addition, the future will likely see utilities creating dashboards, deploying geospatial systems, developing digital twins and honing drone capabilities, all of which will help reduce costs while improving reliability, visibility and control of the grid.   

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