Electricity North West UK significantly reduced revenue losses impacted by metal theft incidents and flooding

  • Significantly reduced metal theft incidents

  • Minimized impacts of unforeseen flood risks

  • Enabled the company to meet the industry regulatory standards

The Story

Electricity North West (ENW) delivers electricity to 5 million people in 2.4 million properties throughout the North West of the UK. It is responsible for the maintenance of assets which includes over 44 500 substations in 12 500 km2. In 2012, the company identified the increasing frequency of metal theft as a contributory factor to the decrease in operating profits from £210m in 2010-11 to £189m in 2011-12. There are a couple of reasons behind the metal theft incident: the cost of replacement and repairing the damage, service disruption, customer reimbursement. The Energy Networks Association in 2010 provided an estimation of an average direct value cost per metal theft incident of £2,750. Assessing the risk of electricity network damage and estimating the impact on financial results and customer service, the company decided to find a solution to monitor the status of assets.

The Challenge

The civil asset management of thousands of substations is a formidable challenge, with additional key risks such as flooding, asset deterioration and degradation, vandalism. There are also other financial incentives for distributors to maximize the effectiveness of risk management of their asset base. As the industry regulator, the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) provides Quality of Service Guaranteed Standards, which every distribution company must meet. These standards are set to guarantee the level of service to customers. Failures to meet the necessary service levels of supply result in payments to customers for the loss of supply. The solution should enable distribution companies to: meet the requirements of the Electricity, Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002; maintain the network, identify and prevent service halt threats; enable the classification of risk in a system of record. The company researched the market and found Stonehaven Technology`s team with the strong ability to integrate and analyze a range of data sources concerning risks to the network.

Solution

Stonehaven Technology recognized that the problem experienced by ENW was common in the utility industry and that there was much valuable academic research that could be exploited and incorporated in a solution. The team decided to implement the CUBA Platform (now Jmix) as the core technology to build the solution around existing ENW business processes and utilize the existing data sets. Development started in September 2014. In 6 months, the first release of Guardian went live. ENW departments were impressed by the system capabilities and decided to enrich the project specification with new features. On later stages in 2016, the Guardian provided the following key features:

  • The automated reporting of incidents, enhancements conducted and abstractions across the network asset base.

  • Integration of a range of open data covering Crime, Socio-Demographics, Scrapyard Licenses, London Spot Metal Exchange price of copper, Hospital Locations, Post Code, Flood Warnings and Meteorology.

  • Sophisticated geospatial analytical tools, including functionality to designate time-dependent areas of dynamic risk.

  • Configurable Dashboard, Reports and Charts.

  • An adaptable algorithm for the calculation of risk, with results updated at least once every 24 hours.

  • Full-text search and configurable filters.

The Guardian performs the daily assessment of the electricity network assets` risks and prioritizes activities to be undertaken across the network to mitigate the risk efficiently.

Resources:

1. P8, Electricity North West. (2012). Annual Report and Consolidated Financial Statements for the year ended 31 March 2012. Warrington, UK.

2. The industry body for UK wires and pipes companies that carry electricity and gas to UK homes and businesses.

Result

The Guardian system, powered by the platform technology, enabled the ENW revenue protection department to get a comprehensive, algorithmically derived understanding of risk at each location and the integrated business processes to manage the risk mitigation. Since installation, incidents of metal theft have significantly reduced, detailed and timely flood warnings can now be issued, spending on the type and location of enhancements can be recorded and analyzed. The success of Guardian was recognized as a finalist in the 2015 Energy Innovation Centre Awards.

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