The Evolution of Electrical Utilities Towards Smart Grid and the Supporting Role of Field Service Management Systems
- 3 min reading
Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, energy transition funding is set to increase in 2021 and beyond. Energy and utility companies participate in the accelerated transition processes and development of smart grids, which continue to challenge the existence of aging and costly infrastructure of traditional networks, where the level of manual intervention is still very high.
The FSM evolution continues
Navigating the shift towards an intelligent grid means addressing a number of challenges that occur in remote areas, covering large territories, concerning a large number of connected infrastructure pieces, and requiring preventive or predictive maintenance due to the high value of installed assets:
- Evolution towards less centralized networks – more smaller energy producers and transmission models on a smaller scale, decentralized and crossing boundaries,
- Aggressive investment in renewable energy resources – solar and wind farms, growing interest in hydrogen technologies, decarbonization and de-financing of coal-based technologies,
- Bi-directional model – emergence of networks where electricity and information are exchanged between utilities companies and their customers,
- Consumer participation in the system – consumers are enabled to communicate with the grid and manage their electricity usage,
- Security concerns and cyber-attacks.
Communication, control systems, computerization and automation, including processes supported by IoT, are gaining importance as core components of smart grid technology:
- Smart metering infrastructure and smart devices ecosystems (HAN – home area networks, which connect appliances, thermostats, HVAC, CCTV and security systems, etc.) that can be managed from the web or a mobile app,
- Smart distribution boards and circuit breakers, switches and transformers,
- Renewable energy resources, paired with energy storage, with capacity to charge electric vehicles,
- Sufficient utility-grade fiber broadband to connect and monitor the above.
The growing need for FSM in decentralized utilities model
The decentralization process in the utilities operating model means a high level of safety must be secured for the expensive equipment distributed in different locations or dispersed across large territories. Field service management (FSM) software provides an increased level of support and automation to utilities companies and electrical contractors of various types, including operators of transmission lines and distribution grids, operators of urban and rural networks, operators and contractors servicing power plants, components of micro grids such as city power plants, wind and solar farms (including household farms).
Decentralization requires the electrical contractors to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills, so they can complete inspections on time, or even prevent downtime or accidents, oftentimes in remote or difficult areas. Contractors who aim to increase productivity and automate repetitive tasks, reach out to FSM, where AI algorithms propose optimum selection of field service teams to work on a particular field intervention.
FSM support for the utilities and electrical sector
Field service management (FSM) software can support utilities and electrical contractors in automating the following examples of service requests:
- Preventive and predictive (coupled with an IoT solutions) maintenance schedules for Infrastructure and assets, including fault detection and outage prevention – from substations and transformers, through EV charging infrastructure, energy storage infrastructure: mechanical (like hydroelectric dams, pumped-storage hydroelectricity), thermal, electrochemical (like batteries), electrical and electromagnetic (like capacitors and supercapacitors), chemical (biofuels, hydrogen and gas), solar farms (including inverters and panels), wind turbines, and smart home appliances,
- Field service requests - for repair, replacement and inspection of infrastructure, including transmission lines and distribution network,
- Field operations – census and meter reading,
- Analytics, dashboards and forecasting – including demand for resources.
If you wish to learn more about Comarch FSM software and learn how our products can help you achieve your business goals, do not hesitate and reach out to our FSM team.