The advent of new digital technologies to monitor, analyse, diagnose and resolve issues quickly and easily, has significantly improved energy reliability and efficiency, giving engineering teams the flexibility to work on more strategic projects and initiatives.

Black & Veatch’s Remote Monitoring & Diagnostics (M&D) Services, coupled with monitoring and diagnostic software from its subsidiary, Atonix Digital, provide an early warning solution, alerting plant operations and maintenance staff before critical failures occur especially where these could result in an unplanned power outage. This solution is powered by Atonix Digital’s ASSET360 data analytics platform, which improves the effectiveness and efficiency of operations and planning for complex and distributed assets.

“Our approach to a complete M&D solution was to package Black & Veatch services with Atonix Digital’s software to optimize asset operations and maintenance by monitoring the entire system to rapidly identify and resolve performance and reliability issues before they become costly problems,” explains Black & Veatch sub-Saharan Africa regional director, Joseph Mahendran. “We use this to collect all the data, analyse it, and conduct condition-based assessments, which help us understand the state of equipment operation to detect equipment performance and defects. The ASSET360 software allows us to expose emerging performance issues quickly and enable early, quick quantification and remediation of those issues.

He adds that the ASSET360 platform creates a holistic view of system performance and provides for the optimisation of assets by identifying and quantifying issues at an early stage to increase plant efficiency and reliability.

Risks to energy availability factor

The importance of regular plant maintenance, as scheduled or based on the assessment of its condition, will reduce plant breakdowns and subsequently improve the utility’s energy availability factor.

“Traditional power plant maintenance follows the schedule prescribed by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). The industry is finding that leveraging data to make more informed decisions about maintenance based on the condition of the asset is more cost-effective. A data-driven approach to maintenance enables power producers to increase reliability by focusing on areas that need attention while reducing costs by avoiding unnecessary maintenance on assets that are in good condition,” he explains.

Mahendran says that based on the supply and demand, a typical power utility should have an energy availability factor in the upper 80s.  With the advanced data analyses of ASSET360, a conditions-based assessment of the equipment in a power plant is performed, and appropriate maintenance is prescribed when necessary.

“ASSET360 helps to fill knowledge gaps and transform data into strategic actions. In addition to monitoring and diagnostics, the portfolio of products available through our software subsidiary, Atonix Digital, includes advanced planning products, such as risk assessment and investment planning. These solutions build and evaluate very complex strategies at an unprecedented level of detail allowing our clients to determine tactical steps to meet air quality standards while maintaining optimal performance, reliability and cost-efficiency,” Mahendran concludes.