The utilities sector has seen a lot of growth in recent years, particularly with the rise in the number of renewable energy farms, which are sharing more of the grid with traditional energy-generating plants. While this diversification is a welcome trend, especially from an ecological point of view, it has created issues in terms of load management. It also makes processes harder grid management systems that lack proper switching capabilities.
It comes as little surprise that the utilities sector has caught wind of the numerous benefits of switching to a predictive maintenance model, as more and more companies are implementing predictive maintenance tools in their project management systems.
So what exactly are predictive maintenance tools? And what are their benefits for utility companies?
Catch early warning signs
Predictive maintenance tools utilise data analytics methods to determine when an instrument or set of instruments is likely to breakdown. Let’s say you have some machinery that undergoes severe load on a daily basis. The chances of this machinery breaking down can be quite high. Predictive maintenance tools can use data collected from the operation of a thousand such machines, which should it get a fair idea of the factors influencing the breakdown of the machine. This helps maintenance teams schedule tune-up jobs to ensure machinery is always in working condition, thus reducing process downtime and saving thousands of dollars in the process.
Get actionable insights
Predictive maintenance tools work on the principle of big data analytics. In other words, they are used to transform raw data into actionable insights that can then be used for better decision making. For example, by analysing the data from a power plant’s periodic maintenance report, you can understand the volume of funds that need to be kept aside for maintenance. This in turn leads to better budget management and increased profits.
Improve inventory and asset management
Utility companies have to deal with large volumes of inventory, a lot of which is prone to malfunction and needs to be replaced on a recurrent basis. To this end, predictive maintenance tools help with improving asset utilisation by assessing how much inventory needs repair and how much requires outright replacing.
Integrate with other digital services
Utility companies that have adopted predictive maintenance tools have also managed to integrate them with existing management tools, helping them to improve their operations on a holistic level. For example, predictive maintenance can be integrated with workforce management software to analyse technician-sourced data. This analysed data can then be used to make smarter business decisions, such as whether or not a new sector can be electrified, to how many hours of technician time will be required for a particular project.
Supplement the knowledge capture process
In the utilities sector, knowledge capture is one of the lesser-known benefits of predictive maintenance tools. By recording all the decisions made by experienced technicians and storing them in an intuitive software where data can be easily accessed and assessed by subject matter experts, predictive maintenance can help companies create a platform by which knowledge can be shared for better process management. Such tools are especially useful when an experienced technician leaves the organisation as it safeguards years of accumulated knowledge, making it available to the remaining workforce!
With such an extensive list of benefits, it’s no surprise that more and more companies in the utilities sector are starting to fully comprehend the benefits of predictive maintenance. Read more about the power of machine learning and predictive maintenance for a greater understanding of the use of software in Business.