The energy and utility landscape is constantly changing and as customer expectations grow, government regulatory requirements change and energy sources shift, companies realise the need to adapt to these changes and drive greater efficiencies. As a result companies are employing new and improved technology to assist their transformation. The Internet of Things is sitting at the forefront of this, and is growing rapidly in the industry – Gartner predicted that the IoT energy market is expected to grow at 21.1% CAGR, reaching a global market value of $22.34 Billion by 2020.
So Why IoT for Energy and Utilities?
- Secure and robust Internet of Things connectivity is essential to smart metering and grids
- The mechanics of demand response systems are based upon bi-directional Internet of Things communications
- By connecting the energy/utility estate using an Internet of Things solution, central teams can easily manage and monitor the entire pipeline and cable networkings from any location – keeping them better informed and enabling more efficient planned maintenance
- By monitoring the entire estate using an Internet of Things solution, it becomes easier to track potential theft scenarios as well
IoT for Smart Metering and Grids
BI Intelligence predict that 930 million smart meters will have been installed by 2020, up from 450 million in 2015, marking a compound annual growth rate of 15%. Smart meters allow utility customers to monitor their energy consumption, as well as enabling utility providers to better manage their power flows in and out of grids.
Many providers are moving to “demand response” models, for example, that monitor power station levels against customer energy demands so that they can shed load off the grid.
Energy and utility companies need to be able to track their transmission network to ensure no energy or water is being lost along the way and that there are no faults with the service – for example from a leak or theft. By monitoring energy or water levels at different points in the journey, utility companies can pinpoint any potential issues where a drop in level is seen. By identifying potential problem sites it enables companies to put in place preventative maintenance as well; if there’s an unexpected drop in levels between dedicated monitoring points then the company can identify this in near real-time and allocate a field engineer resource to it before it impacts the end customer’s service.
IoT for In-Vehicle Networking
Extending the enterprise network to the road is essential for utility and energy companies today. Providing access to centralised systems on-the-road helps to streamline workflows and improve customer service by giving field teams access to the applications and information they need – while also keeping head office up-to-date with the latest data.
In addition to providing connectivity for field teams to access central systems, the same networking solution can be used to unify other communications for the vehicle. For example telematics solutions can transmit data back to central reporting systems for improved real-time fleet tracking or digital displays on the outside of the vehicle can be remotely updated.
When responding to the affected sites where evacuation has been a necessary precaution, for example a gas leak, an in-vehicle networking solution can also be used to create a guest WiFi hotspot. Creating a powerful WiFi hotspot with an extended footprint around the vehicle allows sub-contractors and the public alike to connect with ease.
By using the above IoT applications, it allows energy and utility companies to not only drive greater efficiencies and productivity but to ultimately enhance customer value and meet their evolving expectations.
Westbase Technology provides secure and robust Internet of Things communication solutions for the energy and utility industries, which can be tailored to suit individual requirements. For more information on our solutions click here, or take a look at our infographic about how the Internet of Things is driving efficiencies in this industry.