Aging grid assets? How to know what equipment to replace and when



It's no fun standing in front of regulators hemming and hawing when they want proof. For instance, when they want proof that your requests for equipment replacement are valid.


More and more utilities are considering various "asset health" analytics that can predict which equipment is most likely to fail. And that can suggest which equipment is most critical to replace and in what order. It's a great way to give regulators the hard numbers they like. (Financial officers love it too.)


Then you get the fun of justifying your purchase of that software. Since Ventyx sells one such solution, they set out to prove the value of modern asset health systems. Here's what they uncovered. You may find it useful as you ponder your own options. - Jesse Berst


By Shawn Lyndon


Predictive maintenance is no longer a shot in the dark

Numerous articles have been written about the challenges of maintaining diverse and increasingly complex (and aging) assets that make up the smart grid. For example:

·      Jeff St. John of Greentech Media describes the "thousand different options for asset maintenance, replacement, and procurement strategies” in a recent feature.

·      A survey of more than 500 utility professionals by Utility Dive released in February found that "old infrastructure” is the most pressing challenge for their utilities.

·      In a note summarizing numerous conversations at this year’s DistribuTECH, Smart Grid Newseditor Jesse Berst offered up one question many utilities are asking: "Much of our equipment is beyond its design life. But how can we afford to upgrade and modernize at a time when most regulators are loathe to allow rate increases?”


Most experts in the industry agree that analytics must play a key role in meeting this challenge. However, as much as utility executives are overwhelmed by the volume of data provided by the smart grid, many also find themselves in a quandary over the plethora of options from vendors hawking analytics.


So, what is a utility to do? Pardon the pun, but when it comes to managing the reliability of the power grid, one really cannot afford to take a shot in the dark.


To shed some light Ventyx, an ABB company, developed a business tool to demonstrate the potential benefits from servicing or replacing aging assets before they fail. Based on ABB’s domain knowledge in power and automation technologies and the analytics expertise of Ventyx, the value model demonstrates the financial value of proactively managing the health of vital equipment and infrastructure in asset-intensive industries like utilities.