“You can get the big picture working well – you just need to have a few core issues down right”, says Jukka Leppänen, sales director for the Electric & Gas segment at Trimble Energy. He notes that network asset management, with a holistic approach, is a vast entity, bringing out aspects such as technical performance and distribution quality, reliability and risk management. In addition, there's the dilemma of choosing between network maintenance and investments.
"The utilities are facing a number of new challenges related to their network asset management. For example, the impacts of distributed energy resources and electric vehicles can become a can of worms for the asset managers and network planners. In addition, the owners and local authorities often set their own objectives for the investments as well as savings in the total OPEX."
“It all comes down to solid, well-established data management.”
“The main focus areas vary not just by market areas but from utility to utility. From this, the ultimate goal for network asset management is set by each utility individually”, Jukka explains.
Asset management must also be examined from the angle of different time spans – from long-term (say 30-50 years) down to short-term (say 1-5 years). Jukka points out: “For all the time spans, the effects of investment decisions must be evaluated not just in terms of a single aspect, like only technical performance and losses, but rather in relation to the total life-cycle costs, including also construction, maintenance and outage costs. This is what makes it holistic.”
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
“The information foundation comes first and foremost in systematic and optimized asset management. The more information you have, the more versatile asset management you accomplish. In real life, the data needed in decision making changes constantly when doing network planning, construction and maintenance. This is where dynamic data management comes to play”, Jukka reflects.
“It is crucial how the data management has been organized between the different IT systems used in the utility and also between the different organizational units involved in the asset management. All the data should be up-to-date and available in a way that supports all functions in the asset management process.”
“For example, for investment management, utilities need a possibility to compare their planned KPIs to the realized ones, and to monitor the progress. The software must make it easy to react if some investment portfolio seems to deviate from the decided targets and budgets. And when making investment decisions, you also need to see the impact of these decisions on, for example, maintenance needs, so that you don’t end up planning maintenance works for an area that is to be reconstructed anyway. It all comes down to solid, well-established information management where the important data is available and automatically updated within the process."
Point of view: Modular Approach To Optimized Asset Management
“So what you need is to set up good information management with seamless data flows. On top of this information foundation, it's possible to implement advanced applications to support the analysis, planning, evaluation and decision-making throughout the entire asset life-cycle”, Jukka continues, wrapping it up: “Once you have those, it's possible to manage all the investment and maintenance strategies of the utility in the most optimal way.”
Sounds like you’ve given it a thought or two, Jukka. However, we do know it isn’t all as simple as it may sound – systems like that don’t evolve overnight, but rather as a result of persistent developing together with our customers. And that, as a matter of fact, happens to be a matter of our hearts around here.
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