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Powering a sustainable future for energy and utilities


4 min read

Sustainability and resilience through asset management

Cleaner energy: good for the planet and your bottom line.

Resilience represents the capacity of a system to overcome disruptions successfully. Sustainability represents a system’s capacity to meet today’s needs to find a balance between business growth and responsible practices to help preserve our planet. Resilience and sustainability are inextricably linked. These twin values represent an imperative for Energy and Utilities (E&U) organizations that operate on long time scales and trade in finite resources.

Current socio-economic challenges and the complex process of distributing energy, along with unpredictable extreme weather events are challenging the grid’s ability to sustain disruptions. The move to more sustainable and resilient energy solutions will take decades, but there are quick wins available to innovators in the space which will prove that the push for more earth-friendly operations isn’t altruistic, it's good business sense.

A more sustainable energy and utility organization starts with asset management. All your assets have a finite lifecycle and making an assertive decision about replacing or extending their in-service longevity is an important step. Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) can help with that balance. The best EAM platforms can deliver greater sustainability not only through intelligent asset management, but also through predictive maintenance, computer vision, safety, and reliability.

Utilities are trying to thread the decarbonization needle while maintaining reliability and affordability, a difficult task as they boost variable renewables. To do it, they’re building a more flexible and modern grid.”1
Uniformed worker repairing an electric power pole.

By using IoT data, AI, and analytics, it’s possible to make incremental changes to reduce downtime, costs, C02 and waste, as well as resources consumed.2 Some examples:

  • Electrification and decarbonization: The former is essential to achieving the latter. Energy efficiency is a key benefit of electrification, and electrical devices are often multiple times more efficient than internal combustion engines.
  • Digitalization: Aging grids with large, centralized power stations powered by fossil fuels are increasingly subject to regulation. Digitalization can be used to build and optimize smarter grids that address the challenges of environmental sustainability, reliability and integration of renewables.
  • Decentralization:  Utility customers are now both consumers and energy producers, however grids weren’t designed to accommodate two-way transmission. The centralized, top-down power grid is outdated. Decentralizing it will require the adoption of smarter technologies and IT systems that can handle data collection from smart assets throughout the grid, sending data in every direction.

Read more about sustainability and the role of technology in helping companies reduce their impact on the planet.

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5 min read

Build energy resilience in a world of disruption

The way for E&U organizations to navigate a world of constant disruption is to embrace digital transformation.

Renewables, smart grids, IoT and other emerging technologies are driving exciting new business models in the E&U space. In order to take full advantage of these innovations, the industry must rethink the way it manages data. The E&U industry has perhaps more to gain than any other by using this opportunity to reimagine business with a modern approach to data-driven decision-making. Enabling themselves with the right tools to take on the new challenges facing their industry it's essential:

E&U organizations must manage a range of hardware and software technologies, many of which were implemented over the past several decades. Today these systems must gather more data than ever from smart meters, sensors, and other devices. This data must be stored and processed in the cloud to facilitate new business models and accommodate new regulatory frameworks.
The world is demanding green alternatives, and governments are responding with strict and fast-changing regulation. The E&U industry must be able to respond quickly and effectively. In addition to these changes, extreme weather events and socioeconomic-related supply chain disruptions make it even more difficult for organizations to reliably provide customers with the service they expect.
The global workforce is in a period of transition, and organizations need to develop ways to transfer institutional knowledge using new technologies such as augmented reality, virtual assistants, and smart devices. Are E&U organizations equipped to enable them?

IDC predicts the need for E&U organizations to digitally transform so that they can take advantage of the convergence of big data, IoT, AI, and cloud. It’s imperative that E&U firms invest in these technologies to predict disruptions and respond accordingly before they impact the bottom line.3

It’s time for E&U to get smarter.

Digital transformation isn’t only about distributing faster, cheaper, more reliable energy. By integrating IT and operations technology (OT) systems with intelligent, automated workflows, E&U organizations have an opportunity to transcend their status as energy providers and distributors, to become everyday partners with their customers. They will be able to empower customers to save energy and work toward a greener world.

Only by being digital will an organization proactively meet the market as it changes and capture the total value of its existing digital investments and future technology enhancements. Companies must embed technology in every facet of their organization while shifting the workforce’s mindset to incorporate digital solutions to secure value today and tomorrow, whatever the future holds.”4
Ernst and Young, “If Tech Powers the Future, Who Powers the Tech?”

For energy and utilities, there is potential at every level for more efficient and resilient operations along with exciting new business models. Actualizing this potential is a daunting prospect, but the opportunities are well worth the investment.

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5 min read

Sustainable decisions through deep asset understanding

You need the best information, all in one place, to make the smartest decisions.

Distribution, transmission lines, substations, gas pipelines, electrical grids, storage wells, dams-industry assets and resources are core and essential to the energy and utilities sector. It’s essential that leaders throughout your organization have access to a birds-eye view of assets and operations in real-time at any moment. Events like asset performance, resources allocation, capital deployment, and most importantly, identifying assets at risk, are all vital factors to make better, sustainable, data-driven decisions to avoid disruptions and drive business continuity.

This state of awareness is possible with a comprehensive Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) solution, enabling you to better manage your organization’s assets and apply AI, analytics, and automation to optimize asset performance. EAM systems bring together operating procedures, work plans, resource availability, inventories, health safety, environment data, logs, and much more to give you a better sense of operations efficiency and effectiveness. EAM systems integrate with other existing management tools, like enterprise resource planning, human capital management, production, and field service management systems, allowing you to tear down silos and develop a broad perspective on operational status.

What’s more, EAM platforms provide the foundation for more intelligent asset management, like asset performance management (APM) to help utilities evaluate asset condition and potential risks by looking at health scores associated with anomalies, predicted failures, or poor efficiencies. In this way, APM enables you to extend the life of your assets by identifying the risks and taking well-informed actions to reduce them. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will allow you to get a deeper understanding of your assets, using machine learning models, and flexible scoring methodologies that provide the right insights to adjust maintenance strategies, optimize operations, monitor and measure contribution to your company’s sustainability goals and make decisions to improve overall business results.

E&U-focused solution platforms, like IBM® Maximo® Application Suite for Energy & Utilities (PDF, 596 KB), help you automate existing processes and bring decades of best practices to your organization. IBM® Maximo® Application Suite for Energy & Utilities is purpose-built to be a complete solution for work and asset management across business units, including gas and electrical transmission, distribution, power generation, water treatment, and wastewater treatment in a single platform and database.

Also, Maximo® Health & Predict – Utilities, included as part of the Maximo® Application Suite, is an out-of-the-box application that applies AI to assess behavior, health, criticality, risk, effective age, and end-of-life probability; as well as asset degradation and the root cause of impending failure, all in order to drive more prescriptive actions. By understanding the risks, utilities can turn data into insights and move from routine scheduled and reactive asset maintenance to a proactive condition-based planning asset management strategy.

In addition, utilities get access to a combination of corporate and operational sustainability management tools to automatically capture operational data for reporting purposes, reducing the cost and preparation time involved in manual data input with the newly released Maximo® and Envizi Connector. The strong operational capabilities in Maximo® will help drive improved visibility of compliance with an integrated system and reinforce corporate reputation and sustainability performance improvement for utilities looking to achieve challenging targets for emission reduction and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG).


Utility companies have realized the true nature of resiliency which, for them, means access and understanding of the status of utility networks, of employees, of equipment—and to be able to do it from anywhere, anytime, and any place. That’s caused a new understanding of efficiency in the ways of work.”
Terry Saunders, Worldwide Utilities Industry Leader at IBM

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4 min read

Keeping up with the “Great Crew Change” across the energy industry?

Your workforce needs new tools to succeed.

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics5 the E&U industry is facing several unprecedented workforce changes. A large demographic of experienced workers are retiring and organizations are scrambling to find ways to preserve their institutional knowledge before it walks out the door. Dubbed the “great crew change,” this event continues to have major repercussions for the E&U industry.

As utilities focus on strengthening critical infrastructure and keeping up with changing energy demands, the operations and maintenance workers must also adapt to those changes driven by the digital transformation. In an industry where downtime is unacceptable, E&U organizations need to find ways to distribute institutional knowledge, upskill their current workforce to support this new technology and withstand workforce disruptions.

Today’s workers need to have the relevant information at their fingertips. Fortunately, assets are becoming smarter and more connected. AI and IoT once again come together to provide smart, data-driven insights in real time, accessible to technicians, operators and managers from smart devices.

Mobility platforms are the foundational requirement for field inspections because they offer:

  • Mobile EAM with immediate access to core asset management, and critical how-to information for inspectors and maintenance workers.
  • Features like GIS and GPS to easily locate assets and protect workers.
  • Offline functionality for disconnected environments with automatic data syncs when back online.
  • Automated activities and scheduling.
The connection to knowledge and support is more than just a mobile device with an app. It’s connecting people at the point of activity back to the enterprise. It’s a whole new way of working for both the technician and the operation.”6
Uniformed worker using a laptop while standing.

Take mobility even further.

Technicians know how critical mobile EAM can be, but are you taking full advantage of its capabilities? With cameras, accelerometers, Bluetooth, web and Wi-Fi, field technicians can become powerhouses of productivity anywhere in the world.

  • Use AI to connect senior technicians with junior employees for real-time guidance.
  • Connect to edge devices for real-time remote monitoring data to perform diagnostics.
  • Use virtual assistants and voice commands for hands-free inspections.
  • Create step-by-step visual documentation and training content.

Those multimillion-dollar pieces of equipment are only useful when their uptime is reliable. The technicians responsible for uptime are only as valuable as the institutional knowledge they can access. The next generation of workers will need mobile solutions on their phones and tablets rather than static workstations. The best asset management platforms will enable you to get the most out of your workers’ edge devices.

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5 Employee Tenure Summary, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


6 min read

Help assure safety and security for E&U workers

Assuring the safety of your workers and the security of your assets is not a straightforward process. You need a holistic approach to both practices.

New climate-related hazards and cyber threats abound and potentially leaves your organization vulnerable. However, danger in this industry is nothing new. Energy, in all its forms, is inherently volatile. E&U workers often operate at high elevations, in confined spaces, near high voltage environments, and in areas with potentially flammable gas presence. It’s always been this way, but smarter operations can help to reduce risks for both people and assets. AI and data from IoT devices are playing an increasingly key role in ensuring safety.

Using computer vision technology and AI, utilities are now better equipped to identify, classify and take action on critical infrastructure at a much lower cost versus in person inspections. In the same vein, utilities can perform remote inspections, reducing expenses associated with field crews and reducing risks to workers operating in risky environments like high voltage substations or climbing utility poles. The new AI workflows begin by capturing an image of the asset, sending that to an AI Engine that detects anomalies, then flagging it for a next best action such as repair or in person inspections. Ultimately with automation an end-to-end workflow can be created to automatically initiate a workorder, allocate & schedule resources and assign the work to a crew.

The need to secure the information network alongside energy distribution workflows is critical too. All communication between edge devices and cloud platforms needs to be secure and comply with regulatory requirements without slowing down the flow of data, especially now that multidirectional smart grids increase the complexity of the flow of data.

I. Hazardous situation: Transportation

Most utility workers have to travel in order to service the assets under their management. However, access is not always safe. Some workers must traverse busy roadways while others must drive on secondary and unpaved roads, all of which could lead to accidents.

Actions that can improve workplace safety

  • Keep fleets in peak condition by developing preventative and predictive maintenance schedules.
  • Stay connected to team members with mobile tools, while also giving them access to critical GIS/GPS information to plot the optimal route.
  • Tap into solutions like the IBM Environmental Intelligence Suite to monitor for disruptive environmental conditions like severe weather, wildfires and floods and adjust travel plans as needed.

II. Hazardous situation:  Workplace

Utility workers do most of their work outdoors and weather can be a major factor in the safety of a work site. Another common danger to a utility worker's safety is electrocution. Workers can be put in harm's way when operating aged infrastructure, heavy machinery or handling sensitive electrical work.

Actions that can improve workplace safety

  • Implement Maximo® Health and Predict Utilities, which applies AI and machine learning to spot trends, identify high-risk areas and take action like adding physical barriers and new signage.
  • Employ sensors, wearables and edge computing to monitor employees and send immediate alerts when someone gets too close to a hazard, like no-go zones or high-voltage lines.
  • Use drones, robotics like Spot and other remote monitoring options to perform higher-risk tasks and analyze this data through Maximo® Visual Inspection to automatically detect and indicate when one or more anomalies are found on each inspection.

III. Hazardous situation: Falls

The CDC looked at falls among derrickmen and found that in 56% of fatal falls between 2005 and 2014, accident victims either weren't using appropriate fall protection or it was undetermined whether they were using the correct equipment.6

Action that can improve workplace safety

  • Keep employees safer and on the ground with an AI-based visual inspection solution.
  • Take the full potential of data and automation to drive every workflow, even for health and environmental aspects of the industry.
  • Use HSE/EHS historical and real-time data and analytics to automate incident reports and drive organizational response.
  • Drones and robotics can perform higher-risk tasks and reduce the chance of accidents.
  • Sensors embedded in wearables, like watches, hard hats and vests can alert both employees and supervisors to potential problems so that corrective action can be taken.
White drone flying over a power station.

When it comes to safety, automation and data should drive every workflow. The same goes for health and environmental aspects of the industry. Then if a problem does occur, this same health, safety and environment (HSE/EHS) data and analytics would also drive the organizational response—automating incident reports using historical and real-time data to feed the investigative and remediation processes. It’s also the hallmark of organizations delivering a safer and more productive environment.

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2 min read

Why choose IBM Maximo for E&U asset management?

With over three decades of industry leadership, IBM® Maximo® is the industry-wide solution of choice.

When it comes to powering the businesses that power the world, IBM Maximo is already being used across more than 100 countries on all seven continents. IBM has spent the last 30 years making continual improvements to the Maximo platform, guided by passionate Maximo users, to ensure that Maximo meets your requirements now and in the future.

If you’re searching for APM or EAM solutions, IBM offers several IoT and AI-powered options for the E&U industry.

Hydro-power generators working at a dam.

Maximo Application Suite provides customized solutions to meet your business requirements, along with multiple applications and add-ons. Discover how you can:

  • Improve your equipment operations and prevent downtime of critical assets
  • Use native HSE functionality to protect your workers and maintain compliance with regulations
  • Find and address problems in real time
  • Predict disruptions before they happen
  • Optimize field operations
  • Provide mobile solutions to field technicians

Explore our solution, IBM Maximo Health and Predict – Utilities, to learn how you can use your data to predict and stop asset failure before it happens.

Create safer, more efficient and reliable operations with Maximo Application Suite for Energy & Utilities

IBM Maximo Application Suite for Energy & Utilities improves safety, reliability and performance, while minimizing risk and maximizing your return on assets. Manage all your assets from one place while leveraging industry best practices.

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