BY Matt Kirchner
We are all adapting to unprecedented circumstances in life and business. Our daily commutes have gone from highway routes to walking into the next room. The transition from onsite to home has been challenging for many, especially those who manage critical resources that must remain operational no matter what.
Human Critical Operations Can’t be Cancelled
Utilities are considered critical infrastructure, and most of their employees are deemed essential. Certain utility workers, like those in control rooms or out at power lines, can’t work from home and may even be sequestered at their facility.
It is true that most utilities have plans for all sorts of disasters, including pandemics. However, with the scale of COVID-19, and fewer staffers working on site, many utilities are refining their disaster strategy to address social distancing. The next section uncovers tools that utilities can leverage today to enhance collaboration between remote workers and the limited or sequestered onsite staff.
The Power of Remote Access & Increased Certainty
Imagine moving support for your plant operations into a virtual environment that can be accessed from anywhere. Your engineers can actively monitor asset health in real-time and score issues based on criticality – from home. If the issue is urgent enough, then it may warrant a small team going onsite to address the problem. Non-critical issues, on the other hand, can continue to be monitored over time and addressed when things return to normal.
Enter cloud-based monitoring and diagnostics (M&D) software, powered by AI and machine learning, all accessed through a convenient asset performance management (APM) platform. M&D data provides the critical information your team needs to keep a close eye on operational health – from anywhere. Especially when plants are running with limited staff, M&D is critical because it provides a high level of certainty on how assets are performing. With a clear, holistic view of operational health, utilities avoid any unneeded checks or costly surprises. No shutdowns or unnecessary onsite checks – just business as usual.
Business Continuity Proof
Black & Veatch, parent company and services partner of Atonix Digital, offers a M&D service. Before COVID-19, expert engineers worked from a control center – and interestingly, little has changed since moving offsite. In accordance with the stay-at-home orders, the M&D team has worked successfully in remote locations since mid-March. The collaboration tools that are built directly into our platform to share information, discuss trends and share expertise have made the transition smooth. And our team remains closely connected with clients, as they always have, with regular status updates regarding issues that need to be addressed.
According to Mark Shaw, Black & Veatch M&D Center Supervisor, the team is screening very effectively and has been able to offer uninterrupted service to customers. The cloud-based Asset Performance Management platform, ASSET360, has supported 100% business continuity.
Remote M&D tools lower the risk that unforeseen incidents can cause. When operational information can be accessed anywhere, then the unprecedented conversation shifts from “how will we recover?” to “how can we continue to move forward and improve broadly?”