4 ways utilities are capitalizing on IoT
The Internet of Things (IoT) market is picking up steam, and nowhere is it showing more potential—and potential growth—than in the utilities market. From Smart Grid deployments to renewable energy installations in developing countries, the IoT is helping utilities monitor and control valuable assets and operations around the globe.
Utilities was one of the original markets that embraced early M2M (machine to machine) communications solutions through applications such as automated meter reading. Now utilities are making strong business cases for implementing IoT solutions throughout their businesses, leading to not only increased efficiencies for individual companies, but also a significant jump in market forecasts for this industry as a whole. According to a recent report from market research firm Research and Markets, the global IoT market size in the utilities sector is expected to grow from $4.63 billion in 2015 to $11.73 billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 20.4 percent during that period.
While utilities are now examining hundreds of ways they can use the IoT to grow their businesses, nowhere does the IoT make a stronger impact than out in the field. It’s in these areas—close to the customer or to the valuable assets that serve the customer—that reliability matters. And it’s here that IoT technologies and solutions—from low-bandwidth, small messaging applications to data-intensive, mission-critical low-latency applications—really shine. Here are four key ways that utilities can and are capitalizing on the IoT to make their operations and business run more efficiently:
1) Monitoring of lines, reclosers and transformers:
When issues occur anywhere in the network and the flow of services is interrupted, that means lost revenue for utilities. After all, customers do not use more after the service is restored to “catch up” on their utility usage. Therefore, increasing uptime and improving network health and reliability through faster fault resolution is critical for utilities. Real-time monitoring of lines, reclosers and transformers enables utilities to spot issues and respond more quickly. This enhanced visibility reduces downtime and the man power and service visits it take to make repairs, allowing utilities to maximize revenue and increase customer satisfaction.
2) Field force automation and service vehicle tracking:
In the field, real-time communications is critical. Employees use a wide variety of devices and applications out in the field to communicate with each other and provide real-time data and reports back to headquarters. The IoT enables this capture of delivery and data, however, real-time communications also demand highly reliable connectivity, regardless of circumstances. While the IoT enables applications such as tracking location of service vehicles and monitoring driver behavior, it’s access to always-on connectivity that enables the IoT.
3) Smart meters:
One of the original applications for the M2M and IoT, automated meter reading has jumped into the spotlight as a key IoT application around the world due to government mandates for smart meters for water, gas and electricity usage. Unlike their early predecessors, smart meters, also called advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), enable two-way communication between the meter and the central system, reducing costs and improving reliability. This two-way communication allows utilities to remotely reduce load, disconnect or reconnect remotely, and interface to other smart meters. Smart meters are also becoming an important part of overall Smart Grid initiatives.
4) Electricity theft detection: