Delivering utilities for Scotland on the Internet of Things

Posted on: September 11, 2018 by Richard Barton

By fusing the physical and virtual environments, the Internet of Things (IoT) creates many more touchpoints for gathering real-time data and turning it into an advantage. Here’s an overview of how Scottish utilities companies can use IoT technologies to transform the way they manage, control and maintain their infrastructures.

Connected assets

  • Given the multiple assets that utility companies maintain – pipelines, electricity lines, treatment works, power stations and so on – getting real-time data on the condition and activity of those assets can provide major operational and financial benefit.
  • Scotland’s geography amplifies these benefits; with large numbers of dispersed assets, sometimes in difficult-to-access locations, it’s both costly and time-consuming to keep sending workers to check the condition of assets.
  • Maintenance departments can better control their assets, get insight into how they’re performing, and predict when assets need maintenance and repair.
  • Asset management is much more focused and efficient, with the ability to predict and prevent problems, lengthen the life of assets and reduce costs.
  • This detailed data can be used to plan when and where assets will be needed in the future and get the best value for these major investments.

Connected people

  • The case is similar for connected workers; by better disseminating knowledge and operating more cohesively as a team, assets can be fixed and maintained faster and more effectively, with the cost and risk reduction benefits that implies.
  • Given the logistics and geography of Scotland, cutting down on travel and working more collaboratively will help to make asset maintenance and repair more effective and efficient.
  • Using IoT and technologies such as augmented reality glasses (which ‘augment’ the real-world environment with computer-generated information and objects), utilities companies can better inform and support workers.
  • Connected working can be extended to include ‘digital twins’: virtual copies of physical assets. Using a complete 3D real-time model, technicians can find problems not easily identifiable out in the field; they can work collaboratively, sharing detailed asset information definitions in order to understand what needs to be done.

Wider benefits

While the case for utilities companies is compelling, any organisation that owns, manages and maintains complex static assets can benefit from these connected technologies, especially where it is costly and time-consuming to get workers out on location. These could be oil and gas companies, manufacturing companies, vehicle maintenance and patrol organisations, fire services, even hospitals – anywhere where workers are doing technical engineering jobs.

Digital Vision for Scotland

This article is part of the Atos Digital Vision for Scotland opinion paper. We explore the key opportunities and challenges for Scottish Government, organisations and citizens in the digital age, as new technologies bring huge potential to enhance people’s lives and transform organisations.

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About Richard Barton
Partner – Energy & Utilities, Atos UK&I
Richard is a senior leader in the Atos UK Energy & Utilities team, with focus on Transformation projects for utilities and processes for introducing innovation into major client accounts. He is an experienced consultant with over 25 years’ experience of IT enabled transformation projects. He has delivered projects for all the major UK energy supply companies and many of the leading water companies including Thames Water, United Utilities, Anglian Water and Pennon as well as having extensive international experience. He has experience of large scale multi-million and multi-year transformation programmes in both the Customer and Asset arenas. Recently, Richard developed an IT Strategy for a major European Energy company that considered how new technologies could support their future business needs. He developed a mobile and data strategy approach for a UK electricity distribution company and is now working with a major UK Water Company to enable their business transformation based upon the use of Digital technologies.

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