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Robust Power Failure Investigation – a key part of Smart Asset Management?

This author no longer works for DNV GL.

Singapore’s electricity grid maintained its status as one of the most reliable in the world for more than a decade. In 2014, there was an interruption time of less than 1 minute per customer per year. Depending on which part of the world you are located and the structure in the electricity market, the total (direct and indirect) cost of disruptions can be in the order of hundreds of million US Dollars, or even the loss of lives and livelihood. No matter how reliable the system is, SAIDI (or System Average Interruption Duration Index) numbers are not zero, which is understandable as the cause of system failures can be attributed to a myriad of reasons ranging from;

  • Weather conditions (flood, storms, lightning, snow, ice, outdoor temperature, air humidity, etc.)
  • Contamination
  • Vegetation, animals, and humans
  • Excessive load
  • Lack of or poor maintenance
  • Ageing and wear
  • Poor design and/or manufacture of component
  • Poor operational practices

Ensuring there is clear understanding of the root causes for such failures depends on two key activities:  one, the constant monitoring of the key system parameters and two, the utilization of a robust investigative and analytical methodology when failure does occur. Still, this is an iterative process and failures, as we know, do happen. Therefore by complementing the investment into monitoring systems with a robust methodology around failure investigation, we can achieve the full value and future reduction of failure rates or even elimination of some types of failures through adopting the investigation’s recommendations.

Although smart systems can dramatically reduce failure rates, failures still do happen and the cost of failure can be high. Robust power failure investigations feed into creating an even smarter asset management system. Yet, recurrence of the event is inevitable if the root cause is not determined and appropriate mitigating actions are not taken. Therefore, to ensure that the right actions are taken a robust power failure investigation should be conducted. The key benefits (see Figure 1) of conducting a structured PFI (see figure 2) are;

  1. Increase in reliability and safety
  2. Increased revenues
  3. Reduction in failure rate
  4. Significant cost savings and competitiveness
  5. Improvements in engineering design, materials and maintenance practices
  6. Condition assessment techniques
  7. Reduction in environmental impact
  8. Data to support asset management policies
  9. Evidence in liability and legal cases

Figure 1: Key benefits of a robust PFI

APAC - image 1

Figure 2: PFI engagement and deliverables

APC - blog image

Ultimately, at the end of the day a key success factor to a successful power failure investigation is the willingness of the stakeholders to be open and honest with the information requested. Monitoring and smart asset management systems do mitigate some of the risks arising from uncooperative operators who feel that the investigations may detect negligence on their part and risk their jobs; but this is where both system automation and company culture need to work hand in hand to ensure the value of stakeholders, both investors and employees across the organisation, are protected. In essence, if failures are not investigated robustly, it is everyone’s loss.

DNV GL’s Power Investigation Service (PFI) is open to all customers, with a promise to always respond as quickly as possible.

Failure in your power system or electrical installation? Contact DNV GL at pfi@dnvgl.com or call the 24/7 hotline:

Netherlands +31 26 356 2727
Asia Pacific +800 8899 8866
1 Comments Add your comment
Avatar Adam Gerald says:

I know how power failures affects the industries. It’s far more loss of money and time. Two years ago there was a power failure in my hardware company. Just as Murphy’s law states, bad things happen on least expected time, our power backup didn’t work. After a big ordeal, we finally had to stop work and go home. Later, we bought Stativolt AC UPS inverter on our engineer’s advice to replace the damaged inverter. Since then there have been only minor power outages.

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