How the Utility Industry is Employing AI

By CIOReview | Monday, June 29, 2020

The pandemic dominated world is about to witness more off-the-field operations. In this scenario, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is expected to exhibit its functionalities, alongside drones, especially for utility inspections.

Fremont, CA: Today, the utility industry is undergoing a major transformation owing to the use of AI. Fusing AI and Machine learning (ML), these industries have largely reduced the on-field workload. There are two major aspects of utilities where modern technologies are playing their major role.

Consolidation and classification of data

The utility companies have to deal with the infrastructure that has a wide areal extent. These comprise several units like poles, substations, and poles. Along with the monitoring of these components, the overlapping vegetation also requires regular observation as these pose fire risks.

Establishing a thorough data collection and analysis system, a wide range of sensors are required, which include thermal sensors, RGB sensors, light detection and ranging (LiDAR), and Hyperspectral sensors that provide the respective imageries. Needless to say, these contain numerous data points that need classification. Manual handling of such large data is arduous.

Here AI and ML catalyze the systems to execute the operations more accurately and achieve the targets on time. The point cloud classification of LiDAR can provide more than 95 percent accuracy in minimal time. Moreover, these technologies twinned with drone sensors enhance the positioning system of the later, identify faults in the sensor, make necessary recalibrations, and ensures that the drones don't require revisits. Drone mapping software efficiently performs hotspot analysis, proximity analysis, a virtual inspection of transmission lines, and poles.

A Holistic data handling strategy

In the field of utilities, the data generated is huge and usually siloed. This can kill the business as it makes information derivation very difficult and doesn't provide proper checks. Hence the organization needs to do away with the silos to manage their assets more efficiently. AI functions as momentum to integrate the data from different sources and derive better analysis. Suppose utilities need an inspection in some area, which is wildfire-prone. In this case, if data is not assembled into the same system, the calculation of potential risks will not be an accurate one, especially with manual handling. AI extends its helping hand here to put together data from multiple sources and yield apt predictions from network analysis and powerline inspection.

With AI taking over several human tasks, the concern for labor elimination is rising. But in utilities, however, by reducing manual errors, AI is believed to complement and augment the human work. Amidst this pandemic, where on-field tasks are not the best option, AI drives utilities to reduce their dependence on manual monitoring and shift to automated processes for better decision-making.

See also: Top Electric Utility Solution Companies