For utilities, the costs of unplanned outages are high. There aren’t just the obvious financial costs, there are also regulatory costs and customer satisfaction costs that need to be considered.
Outage management systems, also called OMS management systems, are essential if utilities want to improve services and lower costs. They help utilities predict, prevent, plan, assess and respond to outages as and when they happen – as well as improve network reliability, regulatory compliance, and customer satisfaction. Outage management systems have even been credited with reducing restoration times by 25 percent.¹
Below are six key OMS management system abilities that directly impact the performance of utilities.
1. Recurring Outage Management
More often than not, utilities have planned outages that scheduled well in advance and at regular intervals throughout the year. Planned outages give vital time for maintenance, asset upgrades, and other critical tasks, but managing the outages is inefficient at best.
An OMS management system offers the ability to create and manage recurring and scheduled outages from a single platform that saves time and increases productivity. It alleviates the administrative burden on your staff so they can focus on more important initiatives, such as upgrading your technology to smart meters or enhancing your existing smart grid.
2. System Integrations
In the era of big data, we’re seeing an increasing emphasis on connected devices and integrated systems. Without seamless connections, you create data silos, waste time manually transferring information, and often spend unnecessary time switching between systems to get a full view of operations.
To reduce manual work and ensure you have the most accurate view of your grid, look for an OMS management systems with integrations (or the ability to build an integration) with all of your key utility systems so data sharing is enabled and silos are reduced. If possible, find a system that sources data from several integrations and displays a 360-degree view of your grid in a single dashboard, allowing managers to make decisions quickly and based on all of the available data.
3. Network Tracing
When networks go down and outages occur, you need to be able to trace what is happening in real-time. The best OMS management systems provide real-time tracing that helps to keep utility records up to date, increases regulatory compliance and improves the level of communication and service you can offer to customers.
Network tracing can be a feature of your OMS, or it can be included in add-on applications like advanced analytics. It will track malfunctioning or failing equipment and determine the affected customers so you can resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
OMS management systems proactively monitor your grid, identifying events such as equipment failures and outages. Look for a system that has advanced alarm or alert capabilities so that important events are immediately brought to the attention of your staff.
All outage management systems should contain alarm functionality, but they vary in scope. The best systems will not only alert you to the problem, but will also include information about the event, its location, and affected customers so employees have the details they need to take action right away.
5. Mobile Support
Most modern OMS management systems are mobile, meaning that data can be accessed from anywhere using a tablet or a smartphone. This is a major advantage for teams working in the field, especially maintenance workers and staff that are upgrading assets. They can instantly access updated information to check the status of equipment, outages, and affected customers to better inform their work and increase efficiency.
Most systems with mobile will support both tablet and smartphone use, giving employees flexibility with devices.
6. AI Analytics
More advanced, AI-based OMS management systems leverage predictive analytics to improve utility performance. Machine learning AI proactively monitors assets to identify issues and calculate asset risk. It analyzes the impact of a failure and the importance of getting the asset serviced, learning what’s important and becoming more accurate over time. Often, these predictive analytics help reduce outages, shortening their frequency and duration.
When an outage does occur, advanced analytics applications use what-if analyses to help maintenance teams prioritize work leading to faster and more complete outage resolution. AI analytics are essential for any utilities with smart grids, but they’re not common in today’s OMS market. To incorporate more advanced analytics, many utilities opt for add-on applications that are easily integrated into their existing OMS.
Measure Your OMS Management System Results by Business Performance
An OMS is designed to make utility management easier. They improve performance, reduce restoration times, and, with the right features, can even help predict and prevent outages.
If you’re currently looking for an OMS system, the features above will help you achieve measurable business results. If you already have an OMS, review your system’s features with those above, then calculate its performance. Is it helping improve outage management? Does it work well with the smart grid infrastructure you already have, or plan to implement?
Measure your current and future systems by their business impact. Reduced outages, increased uptime, and shorter restoration times will also help your utility improve performance and increase profit. If your outage management system doesn’t play a key role in those areas, it may be time to look for a new system that has the features and capabilities you need to make a measurable impact.
Nokia Outage Intelligence