Organizations such as utilities that manage complex assets often become aware of problems only after significant damage or failures occur on those assets. This reactive approach to asset management leads to avoidable productivity loss, downtime and expensive repairs.
Add in complicating factors such as varying assets and systems, diverse geographies with different regulatory boundaries, and the process becomes even more difficult. Power generation producers in particular are searching for ways to become more proactive in managing assets. They have found benefit from leveraging a centralized remote monitoring and diagnostics approach to reduce the risk and complexity that comes from managing a diverse portfolio of assets.
For one utility, a thorough evaluation of available options led them to select a unique cloud-based monitoring and diagnostics solution that combines big data, machine learning technologies and domain expertise.
The utility chose to pilot a remote Monitoring & Diagnostics (M&D) solution that utilizes a central remote monitoring center for two of their generating assets. The solution proved its effectiveness immediately, which led the utility to expand to five assets within just a few months into the pilot. Within two years, the program expanded fleetwide to cover a mix of coal, gas, and solar generating assets.
Impressive—the utility recovered more than four times the program cost each year by being able to proactively anticipate and manage equipment failures. The M&D platform not only analyzed the un-mined, previously collected data from the data historian, but also benchmarked healthy operational behavioral patterns of the new data through machine learning—compounding the value of this single solution. If the utility hadn’t gone this route, the effort and time it would take from their management and operation teams to collect, monitor and interpret this data would have been insurmountable with belated response times, creating more cost and effort to address over time.
The M&D center, armed with real-time alerts from the monitoring and diagnostics software, was able to focus the plant personnel’s efforts on important emerging issues and enable them to address equipment reliability and overall plant efficiency in a timely manner. Examples of the potential costly issues that were mitigated through the solution include a plugged cooling line to motor bearings, condenser air in-leakage, a main steam line startup valve leaking through, and actual/control mismatch with the economizer bypass dampers.
Detecting issues before they become a serious problem is top-of-mind for most utilities, especially when considering not only risk mitigation, asset reliability and cost effectiveness, but also the tremendous amount of time and effort it takes for people to isolate problems, prioritize issue resolution and allocate resources to handle mitigation, or in many cases to address the aftermath of issues that weren’t caught in time.
Utilities often struggle with various software solutions, only to find that a generic solution is difficult to apply to their unique commercial environment; further adding to the burden of time and wasted resources. Most solutions don’t account for the difficulty in finding and managing issues in a real-time production environment. That is where a tailored solution with built-in domain expertise can provide the kind of support a facility needs to achieve real financial savings through the use of data analytics.
Once deployed, a remote M&D solution will save time and improve the decision-making process by providing early warning for emerging issues. A unique benefit of M&D is its ability to capture knowledge and share it with others, especially when training team members.
The technical team at Black & Veatch and Atonix Digital understand how deploying a M&D solution may seem like a daunting task, especially from a people-resources perspective. A properly designed M&D solution will remove the burden from the plant staff by doing most of the data mining work and focusing valuable plant resources on more high-value activities. We move quickly, and in most cases, deploy and configure your M&D solution in less than eight weeks.