Asset Management Automation IIoT

Remote Monitoring in the Energy Industry Evolves

Grant Gerke | January 29, 2018

wind turbine motor
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2016, the operations & maintenance tech title is estimated to be the fastest growing profession in the U.S. in the next decade. (Courtesy of Creative Commons)[/caption]

New operational processes and remote monitoring technology have reshaped the energy industry and 2018 looks to be no different. Oil and Gas crude prices are moving up, liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals have been in place for three years with exports going to other countries and renewable energy is the leading source for new power generation in the U.S.

Whether established or a new energy source, remote services are making huge inroads for utilities, oil and gas exploration companies, water/wastewater or wind farms. A couple of years ago we reported about the fastest growing profession being a wind maintenance technician but remote monitoring via drones may alter this trend.

The wind industry is growing with fourteen states getting more than 10 percent of their energy from wind and will continue to grow as more private companies, like Google, Apple and other leading technology companies use it for their server farms.

But, as we’ve seen, technology is moving quickly and operations and maintenance (O&M) roles are evolving. A new startup, called SkySpecs, just received $8 million in venture capital to develop its remote monitoring services for wind farms via drones. According to the company in early January,  the investment will be used to provide fifteen-minute inspections of rotor-blade inspections without human intervention.

“This year, we will enable owners to harness the power of the data collected by our automated drones in a platform that they can use to decide what to repair and when to repair it,” says Danny Ellis, ceo of SkySpecs.  Last year, the company teamed up with Siemens Windpower to presumably use the company’s automation products for some of SkySpecs’ offer.

As reported by Efficient Plant last year, this field is getting crowded with companies and the maintenance approach is turning into a hybrid approach — preventive and predictive — with the addition of drones. Nordex stared in 2016 in Europe and last year we reported on flying inspections by Industrial Skyworks and a big move by the utility company, Duke Power. Duke Power is taking the IIoT vision of creating new revenue seriously as it moves in this space as a 3rd party O&M service provider.

The next stage will be winners and losers as this space matures and more consolidation happens, and as the entire energy industry grows and relies on remote servicing. Stay tuned.

>> Find more trends, applications and all things Industrial Internet of Things via our IIoT channel.  

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Grant Gerke

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