Electricity outages can have major consequences for utility companies. Long and frequent outages cause lost revenue, lower customer satisfaction levels, and more difficult compliance processes.
These consequences mean that most utilities are already taking significant steps to reduce the impact of outages, but most are missing the benefits of new technology like artificial intelligence (AI). AI, specifically machine learning, can augment current risk management efforts, transforming how outages are managed in the future.
What are Electricity Companies Doing to Improve Outage Management?
There is a myriad of approaches that utilities are currently employing to reduce the impact of electricity outages. The most common, according to research by Deloitte, is to purchase battery storage or backup generation equipment.¹ Also popular are plans to increase the amount of energy that companies self-generation plans.
Many utilities are also using outage management systems to better pinpoint outages, their causes, and potential resolutions. These systems work with both traditional and smart grids with IoT to help reduce the frequency and duration of outages when they occur.
How Can Machine Learning Help?
No matter what steps utilities take to reduce outages, chances are problems will still happen. There will still be moments when human accidents or weather cause outages. But risk reduction strategies can help, as can technology that leverages machine learning to make those strategies more effective. Here are 3 ways machine learning is helping utilities improve outage management.
1. Machine Learning Processes More Data, More Efficiently, so Staff Can Focus on Resolving Outages
Every outage and outage management strategy utilities use creates data. Data on how the outage began, how long it lasts, and how it’s resolved, along with information on how much impact outage management strategies have. With current and historical data, along with information from IoT devices and smart grids, utilities have a lot of data to sift through.
Machine learning can process this data much faster and more reliably than humans through outage analytics applications. The more data that utility companies have access to and can process, the more likely they are to find patterns and gain insights. Most importantly, machine learning can process the data without humans inputting rules. That means that the workload on your staff is significantly reduced so that they can focus on more important tasks like actually resolving the outages when they happen.
2. Machine Learning Helps Maintenance Teams Prioritize Work to Resolve Outages Faster
With machine learning, maintenance staff doesn’t just have more time to focus on repairs, they also have the intel to prioritize maintenance work based on what will have the greatest impact. As machine learning sifts through data, it recognizes patterns and learning to distinguish between what’s normal and what isn’t. It pulls those insights out for your staff to look at, prioritizing maintenance based on what will have the greatest effect on outages.
Thanks to machine learning, outage management teams don’t just have more time, they can also be much more efficient with their time.
3. AI Predicts Future Outages
The patterns that AI algorithms recognize in data can also be used to predict future outages. If an outage always happens after assets fail in a certain area, for example, AI can watch for those asset failures, alerting teams when they happen. Teams can then carry out proactive maintenance work to ensure that these outages don’t happen or if they do, that they aren’t as severe as they might have been.
Known as predictive maintenance, servicing assets only when they need maintenance, but before any problems occur, is projected to have major benefits on enterprise asset management as well as outages.²
Combine AI Applications with Other Risk Management Plans to Reduce Outages
Machine learning in the form of outage intelligence doesn’t just build on the work that utility companies are already doing to mitigate the frequency and duration of outages, it has the potential to go far beyond it. Consider adding AI applications into your current outage management strategy and risk management plans. It can enhance your efforts and help your utility provide higher quality service with fewer interruptions.