Driven by the growing power of machine learning, ABB’s new Ability™ Ellipse® software is increasingly unifying the functionality of the company’s world-class solutions for Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), Workforce Management (WFM) and Asset Performance Management (APM). As this process unfolds, the solution is poised to revolutionize predictive and preventive maintenance.
Matt Zafuto Enterprise Software Grid Automation Broomfield, CO, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org; John Finney Grid Automation Zurich, Switzerland, email@example.com
Grid complexity is growing by leaps and bounds. This can be seen in today’s smart meters and switches and in distributed energy sources such as solar and wind: In the future there will be a corresponding increase in electric vehicles and buildings that are not only energy customers, but energy storage systems and even energy producers.
Coupled with this growth in complexity is a massive increase of available data. This presents both challenges and opportunities. The challenge is that it is clear that traditional asset management approaches will not be enough.
The opportunity is that by using data effectively a more accurate and holistic digital view of the real world can be created, that will allow challenges to be met through digitization and automation.
Against this backdrop, ABB has announced the global launch of its Ability™ Ellipse® software, a comprehensive solution that will enable electric power utilities to optimize asset utilization, drive down maintenance costs and reduce equipment failures and system outages.
“We understand the challenges electric utilities face in driving greater levels of performance in an increasingly complex grid,” says Massimo Danieli, head of ABB’s Grid Automation business. “With ABB Ability Ellipse, utilities can now use a single, streamlined solution for the management, maintenance and monitoring of assets, enabling a stronger, smarter and greener grid.”
Leveraging the power of machine learning
Driving these capabilities is the growing implementation of machine learning, which is quietly starting to revolutionize asset performance management assessment and risk-based asset management capabilities. Leveraging the enormous volumes of data generated by online sensors, the vastly improved communications capabilities made possible by the Internet of Things (IoT) and the power of Microsoft’s Azure technology, machine learning algorithms stand ready to ingest this data, learn, generalize and make inferences with limited – or no – human intervention. These packaged machine learning models are now available in the ABB Ability Ellipse platform, which provides asset-intensive industries with solutions for maintenance prioritization and asset renewal.
Given the holistic nature of the information gleaned by machine learning systems, new opportunities for breaking down barriers between domain-specific silos and streamlining operations and strategies are opening up. “The biggest risk utilities face on the journey to digital transformation is the inability to unify applications and data,” says Kevin Prouty, Vice President IDC Energy Insights. “One of the most obvious starting points for utilities is to address the silo approach to asset management and workforce management in their organizations. As asset performance management becomes a focal point for transforming the modern grid, it is vitally important that utilities manage their assets and labor with a cohesive strategy.”
And that is what the ABB Ability Ellipse solution is helping customers achieve. ABB has 1.3 million assets that are in production environments and are analyzed in customer environments every day. In one real-world test scenario with an existing customer, for instance, the Ellipse machine learning algorithm was able to predict the imminent failure of large power transformers based on (electrical) partial discharge data with sufficient lead time to prevent catastrophic failure. Up to now, failure prediction for transformers has been hit or miss. This scenario represents one of several examples where the electric utility industry has been able to capture real-life transformer failures in progress and where it’s been possible to address the issue before it could cause a power outage.
In another interesting pilot application, machine learning was successfully applied to the asset performance management assessment of point switches and motors, which enable trains to successfully navigate rail systems. The rail transportation industry is actively seeking to improve prediction of asset deterioration, since today’s alarms tend to be generated only during a failure or after a failure occurs. Supported by machine learning, advanced pattern recognition techniques can now enable the identification of assets operating outside “normal” conditions, thus providing early warning to operators for asset-specific maintenance.
As both of these cases illustrate, the potential benefits of machine learning-based asset performance predictions include vast potential improvements in terms of safety, costs, performance management and risk mitigation.
In view of ABB’s powerful role in these key areas, a recent ARC Advisory Group market study declared ABB to be the world’s No.1 Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software provider to power generation, transmission and distribution utilities. The ARC Advisory Group is a leading technology research and advisory firm for industry, infrastructure and cities. The findings were part of ARC’s comprehensive market and technology study titled “Enterprise Asset Management Global Market Analysis 2017-2022.”
ARC’s study also named ABB as the world’s leading EAM provider for linear assets such as power lines, substations and towers; the global leader in EAM for the mining industry, and the number one supplier of both EAM and field service management software in Asia.
“ABB’s Power Grids business is at the forefront of digital solutions in energy,” said Ralph Rio, Vice President, ARC Advisory Group. “ABB moved to the top of ARC Advisory’s EAM leaderboard in 2018 in electric power generation, transmission and distribution due to its deep domain expertise and track record with utilities around the world,” he said, adding that: “Our research revealed the global EAM market grew an impressive 11 percent in 2017. ARC Advisory expects this high growth to continue, which bodes especially well for ABB since power is the world’s largest EAM market.”
All in all, by unifying the functionality of ABB’s world-class solutions for Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), Workforce Management (WFM) and Asset Performance Management (APM), the ABB Ability Ellipse solution is poised to revolutionize predictive and preventive maintenance. “ABB Ability™ asset and workforce management solutions are uniquely suited to the needs of the electric power industry,” says ABB’s Danieli, “Our continued EAM market leadership reinforces ABB’s position as a partner of choice.”