While the electricity industry faces major obstacles on its digitization path, successful transformations could result in the next S-curve of performance.

FREMONT, CA: Technology-enabled transformation integrates new technologies with established practices to deliver significant value in four critical areas: operations; maintenance; energy efficiency; and health, safety, security, and the environment (HSSE). The power firms and plant operators can concentrate on transitioning from traditional to digital power plants.

Operation: A completely digitalized power plant will prioritize real-time performance optimization and safe and stable operation, aided by automated reporting, guided issue resolution, and digitized control walks.

  • The efficiency of the process: Mobile devices can contribute to the standardization of operator rounds and documentation automation. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) can also shorten inspection times by sending automated push notifications regarding equipment performance and service history. IT can also assist processes by monitoring key performance metrics in real-time, tracking improvement efforts, and assisting operators with shift planning.
  • Flexibility: The analysis and optimization of plant efficiency parameters should be based on readily available data from the start-up and ramp-up periods. This can be accomplished through the use of standardized procedures that include real-time operator advice. Finally, the performance of individual start-ups can be tracked by the shift to identify and promote best practices.

Maintenance: Maintaining world-class reliability while minimizing planned outages and maintenance expenditures is critical. Data analytics and support for digital processes are critical.

  • Strategy for maintenance: Real-time, advanced analytics can monitor equipment to reduce time-based maintenance and boost predictive maintenance. Additionally, smart sensors that feed directly into a digital twin can increase visibility into plant health, integrate spare-part management based on work orders and equipment status, and schedule outage cycles according to international best practices.
  • The outage and the implementation of the project: Digital control towers can monitor scheduled and unanticipated outages in real-time and calculate potential delays automatically. Control-tower meetings based on key performance indicators might help identify additional possible delays and the most effective actions to avert further interruption. Drones can be used to conduct inspections during outages, avoiding the need for scaffolding around difficult-to-reach areas such as boiler walls or cooling towers.
  • Reliability: Bad-actor programs, which uncover inconsistencies in dependability techniques, can take data from the distributed control system, digital twins, or other sources and immediately compute the impact on plant performance. Assessments of root causes employing sophisticated analytics, trend analysis, and anomaly detection can assist in determining the optimal treatment.