Utilities are using only one fifth of the data they collect and create in analysis that can create efficiencies and improve performance, GE says, and the industrial giant is turning up its information technology efforts to help those companies better see and optimize their surging data agglomeration.
The new Grid IQ Insight analytics platform that GE is launching at this week’s high-profile DistribuTECH conference is part of the larger company’s focus on the “industrial internet,” a wave of monitored and intelligent infrastructure that can wring $150 billion of unrealized efficiencies out of the economy, Grid IQ insight product line leader Giri Iyer told Breaking Energy in a recent interview.
Although the new technology platform will incorporate a dashboard format, Iyer is keen to note that the responsiveness and customization levels for the data feeds provided by the platform make it a 21st century evolution from traditional dashboards that have limited key performance indicators to watch.
“This is not just another dashboard, but an immersive analytics system; A predictive world is what big data and analytics is all about,” Iyer said.
The utility industry is ripe for products that can help them get on top of the data explosion coming not only from existing measurements but from the continued rollout of often-underused smart meters across the US. “Run to failure is a stated business model” for many utilities unable to invest in manned inspections of equipment that they allow to break and then dedicate assets to fixing them – causing what Iyer says is more than a hundred billion dollars in power disturbance costs in the US each year. Using remote sensors to monitor equipment and sending out maintenance crews when models demonstrate failure is approaching could improve reliability.
Improved reliability could go some way to assuaging the concerns of the energy regulators at both the state and federal level, where worries about heavy spending on “smart” equipment that might go unused is compounded by concerns about the security of customer information. The design of GE’s platform allows for deployment as what Iyer called a “private cloud” that uses existing firewall security infrastructure on a utility or large customer’s while running the data mining algorithims on the secure data.
Iyer says that while there can be challenges in making both regulators and financiers confident in systems like Grid IQ, the new layer of grid automation and sensor hardware is already rolling out and will require next generation analytic software infrastructure to operate at its promised potential.