• They are working on an innovation project which is designed to create a solution that enables a cellphone to identify the status of the assets and devices that customers have in their environment and remotely assess whether the incident is the electricity company’s responsibility 
  • SP Energy Networks estimates that this solution could eliminate around 10,000 (out of a total of 80,000) annual trips made by operators due to false alarms 
  • Other benefits include the automatic updating of asset inventories, anticipating potential network overloads and reducing CO2 emissions associated with the conventional surveillance tasks carried out by ground patrols into the atmosphere

Minsait, an Indra company, and SP Energy Networks (SPEN), Iberdrola’s electric power distribution and transmission subsidiary in the United Kingdom, are working together on iDentify, an innovation project which is designed to use digital transformation to reduce the unnecessary trips made by electricity companies’ operators in order to attend to alerts concerning incidents and the status of the equipment located in their customers’ homes and environment.

It’s an app that can identify the network’s elements by capturing images through a cellphone camera and processing them by means of artificial vision, to then send their classification. The electricity company thus receives accurate information allowing it to assess whether the incident is its responsibility or that of third-party companies, together with its size and the degree of the asset’s impairment.

The progress made so far during the project has led to estimates that the use of this solution would mean significant savings in SPEN’s travel costs, bearing in mind that 10,000 of the company’s 80,000 annual patrol trips could be avoided. In fact, according to data provided by Iberdrola’s British subsidiary, the unnecessary actions to verify home security resulted in costs totaling £665,018.19 between April and September 2019.

In addition to reducing travel costs, the remote identification of the devices and equipment by the network maintenance managers and contractors will allow SPEN to gather information on the location and obsolescence of the assets connected to its networks and automatically update its inventories.

The analysis of the status of the assets (fuses, electrical panels, circuit breakers, electric vehicle charging stations, etc.) will also help SPEN detect areas with high energy demands and obtain advance knowledge of their impact on the performance of the network so as to define the actions required to enable it to maintain its stability and prevent overloads.

Another important benefit is the reduction of the CO2 emissions associated with the conventional surveillance tasks carried out by the ground patrols into the atmosphere.

The solution can be used both by the end customer, who will access it via a URL sent by SMS, and to support the work of SPEN’s contractors and personnel, who will have an effective tool to assist them in identifying assets and receiving instructions to resolve maintenance operations.

Creation of an industrial standard 

SPEN and Minsait will make the solution available to the Energy Networks Association (ENA), the body that brings together all the distributors in the United Kingdom, with the aim of turning it into an industrial standard for the digitalization of network asset maintenance processes.

Following a first phase that included the validation of the object identification technology through the recognition of an initial group of devices and equipment located at SPEN’s facilities, the two companies are currently working on the development of an app for both iOS and Android that can be used for the identification and gathering of information from a broader group of network assets.

The iDentify project has received a grant from the Network Innovation Allowance (NIA), an initiative that forms part of the RIIO program (Revenue = Incentives + Innovation + Outputs) of the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), whose purpose is to ensure that the distributors provide a safe and reliable service with good value for money, maximize performance, operate efficiently, innovate and guarantee the stability of their networks for both current and future customers.