COMMON SERVICE CHALLENGES FOR UTILITY COMPANIES
Utility companies keep the world running by providing amenities such as electricity, gas, water, telecommunications, cable, sewage, and other infrastructure services. While utility services differ by segment, all utilities play a critical role in our lives, and all require sophisticated service capabilities to ensure reliability.
Modern Field Service solutions such as Service Cloud, Salesforce Field Service and ServiceMax manage core service operations like generating work orders, ordering parts and dispatching. However, other service challenges require connected assets and AIoT solutions, such as auto-detecting power outages and dispatching technicians to quickly restore service, predicting transformer failures before outages occur, knowing where a pressurized main is leaking to reduce repair times, confirming a lockout/tagout before proceeding with service and reporting relevant information to regulatory agencies.
These challenges were the catalyst for Connected Field Service. Connected Field Service enables organizations to transform the way they provide service from a costly break-fix model to a proactive and predictive service model by combining IoT diagnostics, asset management and resource management on an integrated service platform.
Regional utility companies, governed by federal regulations, partner with Spoke AIOT to connect their field-based capital assets to their service management solution to improve grid reliability, enhance call center support, optimize resources, and reduce service costs. Partnerships typically begin with Visioning and Value Determination sessions to identify various ways that IoT and AI can create value and improve service outcomes. As Use Cases are defined, business benefits are estimated based on actual business performance data and industry value metrics. In parallel, an evaluation of asset connectivity options, machine trajectory data, and security risks is conducted to confirm the technical viability of achieving the defined Use Cases. Once technical viability is confirmed and business benefits are defined, Spoke AIOT partners with customers to define deployment plans and implementation cost estimates.
AIoT projects are most successfully delivered in smart phases. Typically progressing from single-asset pilots to full asset family deployments, to regional deployments, to national deployments, and beyond. Governance checkpoints between deployment phases generally require evidence that technical goals have been achieved and business value has been confirmed.
It’s common that utility infrastructure grids have multiple sensorized components and inherit grid connectivity that makes grid asset and performance data available for consumption. To enable edge connectivity, Spoke AIOT installs virtual and physical gateways to enable and securely govern data connectivity between the utility grids, the AIoT Cloud, and Service Management solutions. Once the data is flowing, Spoke AIOT’s out-of-the-box service tools quickly enable remote performance monitoring, anomaly detection, predictive analytics, digital twin visualization, and service workflow automation.
These capabilities ensure utility grids operate properly and can immediately notify field service teams of any issues. In the field, the service technicians see real-time and historic asset data that helps them quickly triage and resolve issues. In the background, Spoke AIOT collects and analyzes asset data over time; identifying performance trends and wasteful patterns, predicting issues, and creating recommendations to avoid unplanned asset downtime. Spoke AIOT helps improve grid reliability with real-time insights to operating conditions, failure predictions, and optimized resource utilization by boosting technician productivity in the field.
How Spoke AIoT helps Utility Customers
Remote Monitoring & Alerts
With access to real-time grid data, Spoke AIOT remotely monitors infrastructure components’ performance across utility grids to ensure service reliability. Spoke AIOT can be configured to provide real-time notifications when performance anomalies are detected or when an unplanned change of state occurs. With close integration to utility companies’ mapping system, infrastructure status can be visualized for “at a glance” monitoring. To avoid false positives, Spoke AIOT partners with utility companies to define data cleansing and validation protocols to ensure service teams focused on the right messages.
Analytics & Predictive Maintenance
With access to real-time device data, AIoT solutions can perpetually monitor infrastructure performance to ensure utilities are up and running as expected. As infrastructure components are perpetually replaced due to storm damage and other influences, the next-generation solutions have advanced sensors and connectivity out of the box. Utility companies are progressively installing a base of connected transformers that monitor performance and conditions; enabling time-series AI algorithms to predict load losses before they occur.
Improved Service Outcomes
With the ability to remotely access and control devices from the Spoke AIOT app, utility companies enable their call center agents to triage and deliver select services remotely. This avoids unnecessary truck rolls and reduces service response time and costs. When field-based service is required, access to real-time and historic asset data helps field technicians quickly and accurately diagnose and resolve issues. Utility companies enable their field technicians with the Spoke AIOT mobile app so they have more information about the grid and specific infrastructure components as part of their triage process. With these insights, field technicians quickly identify root causes, spend less time figuring out the issue, and improve their ability to fix the issue correctly the first time. Service teams commonly see improvements in Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) and First Time Fix (FTF) metrics. Service teams also reports higher service technician job satisfaction and loyalty resulting from the adoption of modernized service capabilities.
Service Process Automation
While there are countless opportunities to leverage real-time data to automate service processes, one of the most impactful contributions of AIoT solutions for utility companies is the automation of service response. In the utility industry, uptime is everything. Customers depend on utilities and revenue is directly tied to consumption, which requires the infrastructure to be operational. When unplanned outages occur, AIoT systems that are closely integrated with field service solutions can immediately coordinate the service restoration response by indicating (geo-fencing) the areas of service disruption and dispatching the appropriate service team. Utility companies use Spoke AIOT to automate service team notifications, work order creation, and dispatch technicians. Spoke AIOT is also used to automate status updates to public communication channels; helping mitigate inbound calls to the call center during critical times. While customer meters are not commonly connected, utility companies plan to adopt connected meters to automate readings and speed time to invoice. Should a connected meter go offline, Spoke AIOT can automate the creation of service work order and dispatch a field technician to evaluate it.
Utility service teams require fleet vehicles and heavy equipment to be available and reliable. Utility companies’ fleet vehicles are common connected and capable of broadcasting location, condition, and performance data. Spoke AIOT can be configured to include an asset class for fleet vehicles so they can be managed like any other field-based asset. Vehicle utilization drives usage-based preventative service orders to ensure the fleet is properly maintained. Vehicles that travel outside of the work location, operate outside of planned service windows, or exceed speed thresholds automatically create a notification for the service team to investigate.
Personal safety has always been a key aspect of delivering utility services. As with all industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised the bar for safety requirements. Spoke AIOT helps utility companies improve personal safety by enabling them to evaluate and confirm the need for on-site service before dispatching a technician. While many service sites are outdoors and considered lower risk, avoiding the need to go on-site eliminates site safety risks altogether. When on-site service is necessary, Spoke AIOT augments existing safety protocols by providing system confirmation of safe working environments. Field technicians can visually confirm that a circuit is offline after a lockout/tagout. When failures create public and personal safety issues such as downed power lines, the ability to remotely stop service from the service management system reduces safety issues prior to and during the service event.
There are several opportunities to leverage connected assets and Spoke AIOT in the utility industry beyond service. For example, regulatory reports on asset utilization and insights gained from monitored utilities can enable local officials to better understand customer demand as part of forecasting and planning.
Solution Summary & benefits
From improving service efficiency and effectiveness to ensuring the uptime of critical utilities, Spoke AIOT can transform how utility services are maintained. Talk to an expert at Spoke AIOT to learn more about how connected assets and AIoT-enabled solutions can transform your utilities service team.
- Improved asset uptime/reliability
- Immediate notification & geo-location of failures
- Reduced & avoided service costs
- Reduced service response time
- Improved First Time Fix (FTF)
- Improved workforce productivity & utilization
- Improved technician safety
- Improved regulatory reporting
- Provided deep insights to support other business functions
The future is AIoT enabled Service
Artificial Intelligence can exponentially increase the value of IoT by using all the data from the asset/install base to accurately predict outcomes and promote a collective intelligence.
Trillion ECONOMIC VALUE WILL BE CREATED BY AIOT ENABLED SERVICES BY 2025
EXECUTIVES CURRENTY USING AIOT ARE EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS FOR THE VALUE
EXECUTIVES BELIEVE AIOT WILL ENABLE THEM TO ENHANCE PRODUCTS & SERVICES OVER THE NEXT 3 YEARS
MANUFACTURERS’ COMPLEX EQUIPMENT WILL EXECUTE IOT-ENABLED SERVITIZATION STRATEGIE BY 2025
INDUSTRIAL MANUFACTURERS EXPECT TO AIOT FOR PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE BY 2022