APM's Impact on Power Utilities

March 08, 2024

AspenTech’s Asset Performance Management (APM) solution is designed to provide comprehensive monitoring, diagnosis, and reliability management in asset and process-intensive industries. Let’s explore how APM can enhance asset management programs specifically for power utilities.

Key Value Propositions

AspenTech’s APM product suite can deliver a range of core benefits to power utilities, including:

  • Optimizing Asset Availability – APM supports power utilities by monitoring the health and performance of critical assets such as generators, transformers, and transmission lines. By analyzing data from sensors and historical records, APM predicts potential failures and recommends preventive maintenance actions. This proactive approach minimizes downtime, optimizes asset availability, and ensures continuous power supply.

  • Ensuring Product Quality – APM assesses the condition of assets related to power generation and distribution. For example, it monitors turbine efficiency, transformer and switchgear performance. By maintaining asset health, power utilities can deliver consistent and reliable electricity to consumers.

  • Quantifying Risk and Reward – APM provides insights into risk assessment and decision-making. It quantifies the trade-offs between maintenance costs, asset performance, and operational risks.  Power utilities can make informed decisions about investments, replacements, and upgrades based on this analysis, maximizing their inventory and improving system reliability.

  • Predictive and Prescriptive Maintenance – Aspen Mtell®, a component of APM, predicts asset failures accurately and recommends appropriate actions. By addressing issues before they escalate, power utilities reduce unplanned downtime, reduce safety and environmental incidents, and improve overall service and reliability.

  • Process Quality Analytics – APM tools like Aspen ProMV® monitor process health deviations. Detecting deviations early helps prevent off-spec products and ensures efficient power generation.

  • System Performance Simulation – Aspen Fidelis™ simulates “what-if” scenarios on a group of assets to predict future performance and compare benefits, costs and risks from alternative operations and maintenance strategies. Power utilities can improve designs, prioritize replacement and maintenance spending, and optimize system performance.

Improving STO

Shutdown, turnaround, and outage (STO) capabilities are very important for utilities as they involve taking assets or plants offline for maintenance, inspection, repair, or upgrade. STO events can have a significant impact on the utility’s performance, reliability, safety, and profitability. Unplanned events (outages) can be especially costly due to the impact on production, extended time for repair and increased risk to safety. Therefore, utilities need to proactively monitor and effectively maintain key assets using the best practices and technologies available.

APM leverages a utility’s data and amplifies it through Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide key insights and actionable strategies that reduce operating costs, reduce risks, and enhance overall network performance and reliability.  If we look at all the capabilities and benefits that APM can provide, it should be high on the list of digital initiatives for a utility to enhance decision making and deliver immediate ROI.

APM can improve STO events by providing data-driven insights and recommendations for optimizing asset health, reliability, and performance. Some of the ways that APM can enhance STO are:

  • APM can help plan and prioritize STO activities based on the criticality, condition, and risk of assets, as well as the expected benefits and costs of interventions.

  • APM can help monitor and control STO execution by providing real-time visibility, alerts, and feedback on the progress, performance, and issues of STO projects.

  • APM can help evaluate and improve STO outcomes by analyzing the impact, effectiveness, and lessons learned from STO events, and by updating and refining asset strategies and maintenance plans accordingly. 

Better Grid Reliability

APM also plays a pivotal role in enhancing grid reliability by improving System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) and System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) key performance indicators.  Utility companies use these indices to monitor and improve their performance, compare with other utilities, and report to regulators and customers. State regulatory incentives or penalties based on SAIFI/SAIDI targets are set in individual utility rate cases.  Meeting or exceeding those targets can have a major impact on business performance.

Predictive Maintenance capabilities of APM leverages data analytics and machine learning to predict equipment failures before they occur.  This allows for early detection of potential issues and reduced unplanned downtime. 

  • Condition-Based Monitoring continuously monitors asset conditions (e.g., transformers, circuit breakers) using sensors and real-time data. This provides utilities with the capability to immediately receive alerts for abnormal behavior and to proactively provide maintenance to prevent failures.

  • Optimized Maintenance Scheduling recommends optimal maintenance schedules based on asset health, usage, and criticality minimizing service disruptions and allowing for efficient resource allocation.

  • Root Cause Analysis investigates the underlying causes of failures or outages preventing recurrence of similar issues and improving system reliability. Providing an Asset Health Index, APM assigns a health score to each asset, considering factors like age, performance, and maintenance history allowing for prioritization of maintenance efforts and better allocation of resources. 

  • Real-Time Monitoring and Alerts APM provides real-time visibility into asset performance immediate response to anomalies reducing downtime during emergencies.

In summary, APM improves STO effectiveness and ensures grid reliability by proactively managing assets, minimizing downtime, and optimizing maintenance practices.  It allows utility companies to balance costs, opportunities, and risks against the performance of assets; achieve organizational objectives and satisfy customer expectations; optimize operations and investments to generate savings and improve reliability; embrace the energy transition and support sustainable development; leverage new technologies and data analytics to enhance asset performance and decision making.

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