Artificial Intelligence in Action
August 12, 2019 •Mark Newton
Artificial intelligence (AI) has quickly become a key component in all kinds of industries, and this growth isn’t anticipated to slow down. It has even begun affecting the energy industry, and this revolution could reinvent how utilities run, compete and thrive in the near future. Whether you’ve recognized it or not, AI has already penetrated the industry and will continue to do so. Let’s take a look at some of the ways utilities should begin leveraging AI capabilities to provide a more integrated experience for their customers.
Marketing and Sales
AI has the potential to offer customers personalized service, advertising and interactions. According to BCG, a strategy think tank, “brands that integrate advanced digital technologies and proprietary data to create personalized experiences can increase revenue by 6% to 10%—two to three times the rate among brands that don’t.”
Why utilities should pay attention: Successful personalization in the utility sector is akin to customer load profiling. AI can utilize clustering and classification techniques such as “EV + Solar” to create precise profiles and provide customers with more accurate and competitive rate structures.
Operational practices and processes are areas where AI shines. They tend toward similar routines and steps, generate tons of data and have quantifiable outputs. Popular current uses of AI, according to BCG Henderson Institute, “include predictive maintenance and nonlinear production optimization, which analyzes a production environment’s elements collectively rather than sequentially or in isolation.”
Why utilities should pay attention: Predictive maintenance is a boon for utilities. AI can be used to determine the cause of breakdowns and help design a transparent, rules-based system for adjusting key operational settings. Plus, using regression analysis of historical data for system protection for grid equipment can help minimize breakdowns and consequent shutdowns.
Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management is a natural target for machine learning. One way AI can boost workforce productivity in the supply chain is by performing high-volume, repetitive tasks, including supplier on-boarding, processing help-desk orders and expediting invoice compliance.
Why utilities should pay attention: Utilities can tap into supplier collaboration, buying decisions and inventory planning and supplier network optimization, to improve productivity and cost efficiency through data-driven decision making.
Companies often outsource support functions, which are rapidly becoming AI-enabled solutions. According to BCG, at outsourcing giants such as IBM, Accenture and India’s Big Four players (HCL, Infosys, Wipro and Tata), heavy AI development is in progress. “These companies are shifting focus from emphasizing lower labor costs and scale to building intelligence and automation platforms in order to offer higher-value services.”
Why utilities should pay attention: Franklin Energy has recently introduced NGAGE™, a new technology suite that utilizes deep analytics to drive an intuitive, integrated dashboard. The suite helps utilities seamlessly manage customers’ data, track portfolio performance, run reports and leverage data analytics on targeting and segmentation, demand-side management (DSM) tracking, distributed energy resources (DER) reporting and meter-based savings.
Often viewed as the holy grail of DER integration and grid reliability, microgrids have mostly been implemented as pilot projects or in remote regions. This is mainly due to the cost and complexity of implementing microgrids, but there is also uncertainty in how DERs will interact in a microgrid, how microgrids will interact with each other, and how all this impacts the “macro” grid.
Why utilities should pay attention: AI stands to be able to revolutionize microgrid coordination through cloud-based machine learning. According to an article published on Energyworx, AI can help make microgrids more viable by helping to define the most important parameters (e.g., cost of energy, reliability, load shape). AI can be further integrated with microgrids by automating customer load response and distributing energy cost more effectively.
Finally, the article goes on to say, AI can “securely connect the data with third parties for energy efficiency and specialized grid services.”
To learn how Franklin Energy’s NGAGE™ can help automate your customer experience while providing deeper insights and boosting customer engagement, check out our web pages!