Business analytics tools that use artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies have been developed to help companies reduce costs and lower the risk of costly shutdowns, all while making life easier for utility repair companies.
Commercial utilities are a key component of any company’s operations. In this article, we’ll explore how AI-powered data analytics tools can help companies reduce their carbon footprint, create actionable predictive and preventive strategies for utilities management, and forecast growth in power demand.
Uses Cases for AI in the Utilities Industry
Defect Detection & Predictive Maintenance
Repairs are costly—the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies to utilities as well as to people.
Artificial intelligence can assist in preventive maintenance in two powerful ways: Defect detection and predictive maintenance. Image AI is one of the best up-and-coming tools for commercial utility repair and maintenance companies—it can be used to detect minor defects, deformities, and cracks that may be nearly invisible to the human eye.
This defect detection can be coupled with predictive maintenance technology. Using machine learning, AI will soon be able to predict how likely a defect is to become a major problem—this will allow building managers and utility companies to create a schedule for maintenance and repairs.
Even without imaging, predictive maintenance can already predict how likely a pipe, circuit breaker, gas valve, or other component is to need maintenance or repairs based on factors like make, how long it’s been in use, and other factors like frequency of use, flow, and more.
Water & Energy Consumption Forecasts
Businesses need to anticipate when water and energy consumption are most needed—by doing so, they can reduce availability and consumption during off-peak hours, lowering their overall costs and reducing their environmental footprint.
When fed enough data, artificial intelligence can predict when consumption will reach its peak. This data can be used to plan maintenance schedules, helping business owners avoid disruptions during peak hours.
The Impact of AI in the Utilities Industry
Improvements to Costs & Operational Efficiency
Through its data-driven insights, AI promises to offer cost savings, reduce unnecessary power consumption, and improve energy efficiency. We’ve already seen the advantages of AI through devices like smart meters for water and electricity—these meters allow companies to monitor their consumption and make modifications to improve efficiency.
Future Planning & Forecasting
Advanced analytics software will help businesses monitor energy demand patterns, ensuring they have excess capacity available when demand peaks and predict future customer demand. Predictive maintenance analytics allow facility managers to assess the health of equipment based on use, power consumption, and more, allowing them to schedule maintenance before repairs are needed.
Forecasting allows companies to lower operational costs by preventing power outages and reducing the need for costly repairs. Companies suffer losses when serious emergency repairs or shut-downs are needed—utilities AI can help companies avoid these losses.
Ethical Considerations for AI in Utilities
Though the benefits of resource management powered by AI and data analytics shouldn’t be underestimated, there are some fears that AI could lead to job displacement. This is a valid concern, though one that shouldn’t cause most companies distress.
Utility companies should take the time to retrain existing employees to use AI-assisted tools and programs. In most cases, these tools simply make the work of facilities managers, repair and maintenance workers, and other stakeholders easier—those employees should not be replaced.
There’s also the potential for new employment opportunities—data scientists have become essential players in most large companies, in part because of their ability to parse data about energy and utilities.
Privacy & Security Concerns
One of the biggest problems facing the data and information industry is cyber threats; data can be stolen, modified, or otherwise disrupted by cybercriminals. Without proper security protocols, hacked data could lead to security breaches, equipment failure, and other problems. Cybersecurity is a must when using AI.
AI for utilities isn’t just designed for the energy industry or power plants—it’s useful for any business that wants to lower costs, improve the upkeep of essential equipment and utilities, and avoid costly shutdowns. At Dub-L-EE Utility Construction, we’ve embraced AI to help our customers improve their utilities maintenance—we’d love to help you do the same.