Energy IoT Platforms Cut Complexity, Speed Up Deployments
In addition to the ability to build atop and extend a platform, energy IoT customers are likely to have very specific needs related to integration with outside entities. This is a routine requirement for any power producing or power distribution utility, but it can also impact the more limited private energy operations of universities, medical and industrial complexes and other entities such as airports.
“Universities, even airports, operate as small cities,” said IBM’s Saunders. “They are generating their own electricity and they have their own networks, their own micro-grids. For the major utility that’s interconnected, it’s becoming more and more important, and a larger and larger challenge.”
Schneider Electric’s approach to energy IoT platforms takes a similar track when it comes to external integration requirements.
External Integration is critical too: Shishani: “If you cannot integrate with other systems and other ecosystems … then you’re really not providing an infrastructure with the utmost value,” said Shishani. “At the end of the day the customer expectation is that they’re pursuing a single pane of glass that they can see all of that information in a simplified way.”
Still, a lack of well-established standards and protocols can hinder integration efforts. “I think this is one of the many challenges for any project,” wrote Logic Energy’s Estelles.
Human Factors Related to Energy IoT Platforms
Another issue that has created a sense of urgency among some prospective energy IoT platform customers is more cultural than technical. It’s an issue that primarily affects utilities that are in the process of transitioning or already transitioned from legacy operations to IoT-based digital infrastructures.
Many of the utility employees who have themselves experienced the transition are retiring and being replaced by digitally aware yet legacy-challenged younger personnel.
“Number one is the exiting workforce,“ noted Shishani when ticking off reasons for companies to accelerate their move to energy IoT platforms. “The platform IoT – digitization of infrastructure – is helping to alleviate the pain of [losing] that expertise because now you can rely on data, and the way you manage data you can learn from data.”
Saunders also cites the transitioning workforce as motivation for platform shoppers as they seek remedies for the loss of knowledgeable veterans paired with the influx of new employees.
“The question is how do we provide tools and ways to support that transition,” said Saunders. One IBM initiative is called augmented collaboration. “This takes AR and smart devices, and having subject matter experts listed as available on particular asset classes.” A less experienced worker in the field can contact an expert who can use AR to view the situation and make appropriate recommendations.