Black & Veatch launches report on utility automation

Black & Veatch announced the availability of the new “Strategic Directions: Utility Automation & Integration” report. The inaugural report highlights many of the common issues that utilities of all types face with regard to adding greater levels of intelligence to their network operations.

“Black & Veatch believes that the performance of all utilities can be improved through the greater use of intelligent technologies,” said Paul Miller, vice president of Black & Veatch’s Private Networks business line. “Metering, automation and data analytics are changing how utilities approach their customers and their businesses. And it’s a robust telecom backbone that enables the full value of these ongoing and future smart grid investments.

In addition to broad efforts to expand automated metering infrastructure (AMI), about 50 percent of utilities indicated plans to implement advanced automation technologies in the next five years. Based on field testing and data from previously implemented projects, these solutions hold the promise of enhanced operations, reduced costs, and increased reliability. Additional knowledge gained through data analytics can improve planning and predictive modeling decisions.

“Most utilities are clearly identifying that automation solutions are their greatest opportunity to capture value from their capital investments and operational expenses,” said Martin Travers, president of Black & Veatch’s telecommunications division. “Another emerging trend is the rising interest in analytics as both a monitoring and diagnostic tool and an adaptive planning tool to evaluate long-term plans for their operations.”

Other key findings from this year’s report include:

· The combination of public and private telecom networks will continue. Many utilities will leverage public carrier networks to support AMI programs while mission critical functions run over their own private networks.

· Recruiting challenges and an aging workforce will force utilities to consider telecom outsourcing. Market pressures for staff and the rapid pace of technology is leading to more utilities to look at outsourcing the engineering and O&M of their private networks.

· Remote monitoring & measuring efforts will continue to grow across utilities. More sensors will be deployed to facilitate real-time decision-making and facilitate future data analysis.

· Automation of distribution systems is an area of focus for all utilities to enhance performance and reduce costs.

· Data analytics and management programs will create new ways for utilities to integrate real-time knowledge. Reviewing historical data will allow managers to make smarter operating decisions, and efficiently deliver on the business goals of the organization.

· Cloud technology may allow small utilities to close the technology gap. Small utilities lacking the resources to invest in complex IT systems may be able to use cloud-based solutions to improve operations and business functions.

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