Powering the future: an AI evolution for utilities 

AI is driving a transformation in the utilities industry: by July 2023, 33% of utility and energy companies across the globe had incorporated AI into their operations. This percentage is growing as more companies recognise the benefits of AI. For instance, 74% of energy and utility companies are either implementing or exploring AI solutions. North America leads this adoption, commanding 35% of the total market share in AI for energy systems.

By harnessing advanced data analytics, machine learning, and predictive maintenance, AI optimises project operations by offering real-time visibility and assisting with data-driven decisions, hazard analysis, and multilingual communication. Armed with AI, the utilities sector is better equipped than ever to meet the evolving energy needs of a growing population.

Understanding industry challenges

Power resilience

Maintaining a consistent power supply is a significant challenge with ageing infrastructure, increasing energy demand and extreme weather events through climate change. AI helps utilities respond to outages more effectively, ensuring minimal disruption and faster recovery times. Using real-time data, AI predicts potential failures and optimises the response, thereby enhancing power resilience. For example, AI technologies can help improve grid management and reduce losses equivalent to significant reductions in annual carbon emissions.

Resource allocation

Efficient resource allocation is difficult due to fluctuating demands and limited personnel. AI-driven solutions streamline operations, optimise resource deployment, and reduce operational costs. For example, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), predictive maintenance powered by AI can reduce maintenance costs by up to 10-15% by preventing equipment failures before they occur and optimising maintenance schedules. AI technologies are also anticipated to increase labour productivity by 10-30%, which contributes to more efficient resource management.

Worker safety

Ensuring worker safety is paramount in hazardous environments. Advanced monitoring and predictive analytics enhance safety protocols, minimise risks, and safeguard the workforce.  For instance, Amazon reported that its lost-time injury rate at fulfilment centres fell by 69% from 2019 to 2022 at sites using AI-powered robotics technology. In contrast, lost-time injury rates were 21% higher at sites that didn’t use this technology.

The AI evolution

AI is reshaping the utilities sector by integrating advanced analytics and machine learning, significantly enhancing operational efficiency and reliability. By providing real-time visibility into operations, AI-driven analytics improve outage recovery times and project prioritisation. For example, IBM’s AI platform, Watson, predicts energy demand and supply, helping companies optimise their operations and reduce costs by identifying patterns, anomalies, and risks that human operators might miss.

Machine learning further enhances this capability by processing both historical and real-time data to generate actionable insights. This improves decision-making in areas such as maintenance schedules and energy distribution, ensuring optimised performance across utility networks. A notable example is Google’s DeepMind, which has developed an AI system that predicts wind power output 36 hours in advance, facilitating better integration of renewable energy into the grid.

Transforming utilities’ operations with FYLD

FYLD’s innovative solutions harness these advanced AI technologies to transform field workforce execution practices for the utilities sector. By leveraging AI-driven analytics and machine learning, FYLD helps utilities and their supply chains achieve greater efficiency, reliability, and sustainability, demonstrating the transformative power of AI in the industry.

This is achieved through:

  • Real-time operational visibility: FYLD provides real-time visibility into field operations, and its predictive capabilities enable better asset monitoring and management, swift issue response, and maintained operational efficiency.
  • Enhanced project planning and execution: FYLD helps utility providers optimise project planning and execution, reducing operational costs and improving infrastructure reliability.
  • Improved ROI and asset lifespan: FYLD boosts ROI by reducing paperwork, travel time, and operational inefficiencies through AI-driven workflows and risk assessments. The platform extends asset life cycles via predictive maintenance insights, optimising resource allocation and minimising downtime.

Case study: Improving productivity and safety at SGN

FYLD’s remote management solution significantly improved productivity and safety for SGN, a gas distribution network operating in the South of England and Scotland. Facing stringent price controls set by OFGEM in 2021, SGN needed to reduce costs and enhance operational efficiency. By deploying FYLD’s AI-powered platform, SGN achieved a 20% increase in site spans of control, saving 10,400 fieldworker hours annually.

The platform facilitated management prioritisation of where attention should be focused.  This led to higher remote levels of support where it could be highly effective, and focused in-person site visits where they would count most:  cutting mileage by 36%.  Whilst driving down rates of incidents and injuries, process times for safety inspections reduced by as much as 75%.  Overall, FYLD’s solutions delivered £4.2 million in annual benefits, including improved productivity, reduced fines, and enhanced safety protocols.

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An industry on the brink

The utility industry stands on the brink of a significant transformation powered by AI. FYLD’s digital field workforce execution platform is addressing the sector’s challenges and opening up new avenues for efficiency and growth. By embracing AI, utility providers equip themselves for the demands of the future whilst optimising current operations.

For more insights on how AI is reshaping the utilities sector and to explore strategies for implementing these technologies, read our comprehensive guide, “AI Blueprint for Utilities: An Ops Director’s Guide,” available here.

Interested in how FYLD can transform your energy utility operations? Request a free demo today. For a deeper dive into FYLD’s impact on utility management, explore our case studies