With SAP’s breadth of offerings expanding at a rapid pace over the past five years, and with so many of their new innovations having direct relevance the electricity industry, it can be hard for New Zealand companies to come to grips with how all of this new technology fits together and assess the relevance of solutions unproven under local conditions.
Luckily there is an international example of an electricity distributor operating in a similar environment to local power companies, albeit at a different scale to most, that is utilising many of the leading edge innovations in their SAP solution set.
With more than a million customers and an asset base in the billions of dollars, Canadian electricity company Hydro One faces some of the same challenges as its New Zealand counterparts, maintaining a geographically spread network in over a rugged and often sparsely populated area and under a strict regulatory framework. Aging infrastructure, economic downturn, regulations and an aging workforce are just a few of the challenges faced Hydro One, a list that will sound familiar anyone working in the New Zealand industry.
As Hydro One CEO Laura Formusa told attendees at last year’s SAP Sapphire NOW conference, the SAP software has been an important enabler for change in the business and the technology is vastly improving their operations. For instance, asset analytics:
The asset analytics solution uses a risk-based approach to prioritize capital and maintenance expenditures, which will help Hydro One manage and identify operations, maintenance and administration requirements. With the implementation of the asset analytics solution, the utility’s asset management, engineering and planning workforces will have information on the performance of transmission and distribution assets that is time-based and locational. By pulling together the data and information, Hydro One expects to have both improved data quality and advanced predictive analysis capabilities to define the requirements and forecast expenditures needed to maintain the electrical grid at an optimal level.
Bringing together SAP solutions such as Asset Analytics and high speed processing of smart meter data with HANA has tangibe and measurable results. Where once Hydro One was managing outages by sticking a pin in the map every time a customer called, they are now able to identify outages and map this data to systems that can show the exact geographic location of the fault, dispatching repair crews far more efficiently, reducing network downtime and improving service levels.
Enterprise Mobility is also playing a key role in their future. Michael Winters, senior vice-president and CIO of Hydro One, clearly feels that mobilising their field workers is the key to improving Hydro One’s operations and empowering their workforce to do a better job, faster.
“A very large contingent of our employees are actually field workers throughout the province. If I can get them the information that they need to more effectively do their jobs, whether it be work history or maintenance history, or condition information on a particular asset that they need to go in and work on, it gives them more context of what they need to do and how they need to do it.”
Hear what Hydro One has to say about SAP in their own words: