The scrutinization of asset management methods in the electricity sector has led to extensive research and is fueling changes in the decades-old industry. With customers forcing utility providers to explain any increase in costs, budgets are a hot topic and finding ways to cut down costs is essential. In the electric field, specifically within distribution networks, these demands are forcing distributors and operators to look at their assets in a whole new light and find ways to move away from time-based or run-to-failure maintenance plans.
In the corporate world, decisions are made according to risk-based plans. It only makes sense to carry that same principle over to asset management. Risk-based maintenance plans can help distributors and operators understand the most economical use of resources and emphasizes lowering the risk of failure.
By regularly maintaining and monitoring assets that have greater risks and consequences of failure, the risk-based method pushes for less time and fewer resources to be spent on maintaining assets with lower risks. This method makes it easier to identify problems before they occur, which helps minimize downtime since maintenance can be planned. The reduction or complete removal of reactive maintenance is an additional advantage of planned maintenance. As the name suggests, reactive maintenance occurs after an issue has already affected the network and brings substantial consequences such as higher overhead costs, longer downtimes, and time lost to responding and diagnosing issues.
Risk-based maintenance also provides a much safer working environment. When going into the field for planned maintenance, technicians know what to expect and can be prepared to handle each issue. With time-based or run-to-failure plans, the probability of dealing with reactive maintenance is much higher and often forces technicians to go in blindly to find network issues.
Some of the most important KPIs for all distributors and operators working with electrical networks are the number of outages and SAIDI figures. When used properly, risk-based plans lower the rate of equipment failure and allow for planned downtimes, both of which can have a significant impact on the number of outages and SAIDI figures.
So, how can distributors and operators employ this maintenance method? The only way to approach asset management from a risk-based perspective is to be completely informed about the condition of the network at all times. To do this, many companies are turning to aerial inspection companies such as Laserpas, for thorough routine inspections. The technology and speed used by companies, like Laserpas, provides precise, accurate data in a fraction of the time needed for any other method of inspection.