Energy & Utilities: Five big issues for 2021 and how Smart Apps can help

The Energy and Utilities industry is rapidly changing. There is pressure in this industry to grow in terms of new technologies and renewable energy, while also balancing the grid and predicting the amount of energy produced and consumed through various channels. How can any energy or utility company innovate, integrate and scale to meet these demands? Today, we will discuss Smart Apps as a possible solution to that question, the companies already using them and how you might go about exploring things further. 

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First, a little history

TimeSeries and the Energy and Utilities industry have always worked closely together. We actually found our roots (and our name) in this very industry. This happened through our big data and IoT platform that our founders created right around when smart meters became a requirement from the Dutch government. We have since expanded across the globe, partnered with Siemens and their low-code platform Mendix, and honed our own expertise. Now, we’ve created smart-app templates; configurable application templates that solve repeatable problems across a variety of industries. 

The big issue – Five trends

If you read through Deloitte’s 2021 power and utilities industry outlook there are five trends the industry is facing in 2021:

  1. Consolidation of the regulatory landscape – A ruling by The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is expected to consolidate the competitive landscape and might spur innovative technologies. This may lower the barrier to implementing distributed energy resources (DERs).
  2. Creation of new economies – Distributed energy resources (DERs) are being integrated into the grid. A new way of managing these assets is required.
  3. Reinvention of battery business models – A push to go green means that longer-range batteries for transportation are creating a new potential market. 
  4. Scaling up to fit new needs – With Covid-19 effects on the oil industries and movements toward decarbonization, oil companies are investing in the power sector. You will likely need to integrate with new investors and their systems. 
  5. Fortifying disaster readiness – A shift to planning for natural disasters that includes setting up remote workers and offices, while maintaining security.

Without diving too deep into each of these items, we see that all too familiar push within this industry to keep up. These five trends present considerable change; challenges the energy industry is expected to both accommodate and grow with. We may have seen these coming, but are we prepared? Things like being on top of the latest innovations and regulations, being ready and able to integrate new or existing systems, and scaling up your systems to meet massive demand…well that’s a whole lot ‘easier said than done’. Not to mention the ever important creation and maintenance of new revenue streams while maintaining strong relationships both B2B and B2C. All of this can be done, though. It’s just hard to know where to start. You’re not alone. 

The need for agility

If you try to keep up with the five trends we expect to see this year and plan to do so through excel spreadsheets and disparate systems, you’ll see the problem and feel the agony! But TimeSeries can solve it for you.  While your old systems once worked and maybe still do to an extent, today’s shifting times require more flexibility and better communication. This isn’t just a human ask, but a technological ask as well. Right now we see massive inefficiency, room for error and a general pain around sharing information in a way that works. Envision your ideal set up. Imagine your systems growing with you, rather than you outgrowing them. Process  changes are simple. Just enter into the application and edit any variable for the change to be reflected across all of your platforms. From management to field services, everyone has a clear and single view of everything they need. The job gets done better and faster than you expected. 

With that imaginary picture in your head it’s clear that ideally you want something secure, quick, agile, and scalable that can connect with the systems you are already using. You need to do this in a way that increases efficiency rather than adding yet another step in the process. 

A solution in smart applications

I’d like to formally introduce you to our Smart App Templates. Think of these as the pre-fabricated building blocks of applications. TimeSeries templates enable a much faster delivery date from developers, along with all the customization you need. Our templates offer you solutions in weeks or months versus the years it can take with traditional coding methods, all while tailoring the application to truly fit the need. 

Some of our templates for Energy include the following:

  • Field Service Planning – Automatically plan field service engineers based on SLAs, certifications and availability. See this in action through Van Dorp’s experience where they optimized their planning with over 30% more efficiency. 
  • Predictive Maintenance – Monitor the performance of physical assets such as windmills or solar panels and determine when maintenance of specific components is needed. A great example of this can be seen in our case story of Liftinsight.
  • Meter Data Management – Gather, process and store data from smart and conventional meters. Oxxio uses TimeSeries’ Big Data platform that receives more than 120 million measurements per day. It allows users to provide meaningful benchmarks and give personalized and relevant advice to individual users.

Time to explore

Your solution might be right here. It’s okay if you don’t believe me yet. Like any big decision there’s going to be some research involved. A great starting point would be to explore the templates I’ve mentioned above. Then, consider that at TimeSeries, we’ve seen this all before. We’ve built you a library of templates that can integrate with what you already have and can be scaled as and when needed. 

Now, seek the proof. Eneco for example. They had multiple ways of communicating data to customers, each method requiring a different database. These various databases were expensive to maintain, couldn’t easily be scaled, were leading to confusion on the customer side, and were inefficient. They decided to adopt TimeSeries’ Intelligent Energy Insight system that created a single reference point for all the data that could be accessed by mobile application or the website, and created a single point of truth/a single customer view. Our Intelligent Energy Insight system integrates with our big data and IoT platform, and turns the data into actionable insights. Oxxio turned the data insights they gathered into additional revenue streams.  

Your last step is to look at the platform on which the TimeSeries templates are built. They are built in low-code. What’s that? Should you go low-code? Which platforms are best? Why have we chosen Mendix? Check out our two part blog post that walks through the top 8 organizational criteria to consider, and the top 8 technical criteria to consider in selecting a low-code development platform.

Is a Smart-App right for you? 

If you’ve done the research, gathered the proof, and feel like you’re on to something, it might be time to reach out! We have individuals across the globe who can help walk you through the value of TimeSeries and determine which template might be the best to get started with on your journey. Please feel free to drop me a line directly with any questions and I’ll get you in touch with the right person. If you need just a little bit more proof, consider watching our webinar: Smart App Templates for the Energy & Utilities Industry.

February 19, 2021
Maggie Burnham