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Cisco helps Norway Utility Modernize Power Grid

August 22, 2014 at 5:41 pm PST

BKKYou may not have heard about BKK AS. They are actually the second largest power grid owner in Norway with over 180,000 customers. Like many power and energy companies, some of their equipment has been around a long time. It works, but it’s getting old and it’s time to move on to something more cost effective. That’s where Cisco comes in.

I remember starting out my career in IT years ago, when IBM was selling the ‘System370 range’ as it was called. You’ll remember that in those days “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”. As a young sales person, I found the whole IT thing fascinating. I remember that in those days the customer communications were more measured. We had typing pools, we had face-to-face meetings, and the whole selling process took time. The business customers were upgrading their systems, and the newer kit had a great business case. Maintenance on the old installation was more, over several years, than the cost of new equipment. If you were to do nothing, your competitors would steal a march on you and you’d lose customers as your costs would begin to erode your business.

Well the same is true these days. In the Utility business there is a lot of older (though still reliable, in some cases) equipment. However, some of the older time-division multiplexing (TDM) networks are reaching the end of their useful lives. So it was with BKK AS. Maintenance was becoming onerous. But it’s not just about IT costs anymore. It’s about the missed opportunity of not doing anything. New grid applications are requiring any-to-any communications flows and also pushing for IT and operations technology (OT) convergence.

BKK Fiber AS CEOBKK, therefore, decided to build one reliable IP/Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) network to ultimately securely connect all systems and grid devices. Like many commercial business customers, BKK operates a separate IP network that supports its commercial broadband services. Having had a positive experience using Cisco® technology for the commercial IP network, BKK chose Cisco for the new utility network as well. That’s IT/OT Convergence! Rick Geiger talks about it in his series of blogs stating with: Energy Networking Convergence Part 1 – The Journey From Serial to IP.

The new network needed to support a variety of grid applications, including very critical protection systems for the high-voltage grid. In addition, BKK is using teleprotection systems (both distance protection as well as current differential protection), which require the communications network to support extremely low latency (< 10 ms), deterministic behavior as well as very high availability. So the network needed to be deterministic -- a common need for process control networks.

“Cisco offered the hardware and software features, as well as the reliability, that we needed to put our packet-based utility network into production,” says Svein Kåre Grønås, managing director/CEO, BKK Fiber AS. “It’s also reassuring that Cisco understands where the utility industry is heading, and is committed to connected grid services.”

So what are the results? Well here’s something taken straight out of the newly published case study:

Moving to a next-generation, packet-based utility network will save BKK significant operational costs for the utility network due to the ability to use cost-effective, standardized IP networking gear and avoid maintaining two separate networks at substations.

“Building and operating a high–bandwidth, packet-based network has given us a lot more flexibility. In addition, we can leverage the same processes and skill sets that we use to operate our Cisco commercial broadband network,” says Grønås.

With the new IP-based utility network, BKK no longer needs to reserve bandwidth for TDM communications, and now has more bandwidth available because it can be dynamically allocated. As a result, BKK can now offer the same network resources at substations that are available at corporate office locations. Workers can securely access needed documentation and other network resources at substations and power plants, instead of printing documents beforehand or calling colleagues at the office to gather information as they did in the past.

“This represents a major improvement in workforce enablement, productivity, and maintenance efficiency,” says Grønås.

In addition, this sets up BKK for success for the future. The new IP backbone will alllow BKK to provide new IP-based services and new capabilities in managing the power grid, such as advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and distribution automation. In the future, BKK can assign IP addresses to sensors and relays to develop smart grid technologies and provide greater visibility into its electrical
grid network.

“The utility industry is changing fast as smart grids become reality and more devices become part of the Internet of Things,” says Grønås. “With our Cisco-based IP utility network, we’re ready to reap the benefits of this new paradigm.”

You can read the whole case study which outlines the Cisco products and services here: Norway Utility Modernizes Power Grid.

Whilst I’m now proud to work at Cisco, some things never change -- the emphasis on solving business issues of enabling business opportunities are key -- it’s not just about cost savings. With Cisco heading towards being the leading IT company in the world, I’m sure we’ll see even more of this kind of customer success in the future.

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Cisco at ENTELEC – Heads up on what you’ll see

April 25, 2014 at 3:21 pm PST

Entelec 2014

 

Entelec info 2014Look out for Cisco at the upcoming presence at ENTELEC 2014. We’ll have both Exhibition space with demonstrations and a speaking slot.

ENTELEC is the Energy Telecommunications and Electrical Association focusing on communications and control technologies used in Oil & Gas and Electric Utility companies.

The ENTELEC 2014 Conference & Expo runs from May 20 -- to May 22, 2014, and this spring conference is being held in the George R Brown Convention Center in Houston Texas, one of the US major Oil and Gas centers.

Here’s advance warning of the Cisco presentation and booth.

Thursday, May 22, 2014, 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.:

Collaboration in O&G Operations: A Study into E&P Operational Behavior

- Cisco, Room 332B

And Exhibition details:

Cisco Systems, Inc.  Stand 231

Duarte 1 2-to-1-Ratio-smallCollaboration in Oil and Gas Operations is far more than just people using video and communications tools to talk to each other. With the advent of the Internet of Everything (IoE) that involves People, Process, Data and Things, operations staff at all levels of the organization expect to be able to collaborate with experts, supervisors, field workers and third parties using real time data feeds from videos and sensors, and have visibility to M2M communications, as well as to advanced modelling and analytical  tools, whilst collaborating! Cisco is already well known for its field virtual expert enabling collaboration technologies (more info here: Cisco Field Expert Collaboration for Oil and Gas At-A-Glance PDF -- 1.44 MB). With that you can get immediate, face-to-face access to experts with on-demand video and communications tools. Now we’re taking it one step further… Read More »

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Ready for the Next Phase Of The Smart Grid?

Connected GridOne of the greatest changes taking place today in the energy industry is the increased need for information from every aspect of the grid. Utilities need detailed data to meet regulatory requirements and to understand the grid’s condition on a granular level. They need to understand the grid’s condition from moment to moment – helping to cost-effectively balance load and assure reliability.

The opportunities are huge: for example, at CES Cisco CEO John Chambers announced an update to the Internet of Everything (IoE) Value Index estimating that in addition to the $14.4 trillion of value at stake globally over the next decade for private sector through IoE, there is an additional $4.6T in in value at stake for the public sector over the next decade.  The connected grid is a component of this, and it has a lot of potential.

To help realize the opportunities in a connected grid, Cisco has a Unified Field Area Network (FAN) Architecture and Distribution Automation solutions that can extend the utility communications network out to the field and substation device. They help to enable a new level of secure manageability and control on a single integrated architecture.  To learn more about these, register for and join:

Distribution Automation: The Next Phase of the Smart Grid Network

In this webinar you will learn how Cisco is helping Utilities design and deploy an end-to-end communication infrastructure that creates greater value.  Technology experts will be on hand to answer your questions on Cisco FAN Architecture, distribution automation, security and incident response, as well as the future of utilities and IoT!

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A Global Standard for Narrowband Power Line Communications

Steep increase in global demand for Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), Electric Vehicle charging, and Intelligent Street Lighting has spurred interest to implement communications for these Neighborhood Area Network (NAN) applications over currently installed assets.  Narrow Band Power Line Communication  (NB-PLC) addresses this need by providing a communication solution which operates over existing utility distribution networks.

IEEE 1901.2 Narrowband PLC: Final Steps to the Finish Line

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Driving to the goal of a global NB-PLC standard, Cisco is vigorously engaged in the development of   IEEE 1901.2 NarrowBand PLC.  IEEE 1901.2 adopts the latest generation PLC techniques and  provides full adaptation to the latest IETF enabling technologies for IPv6 based NANs (6LoWPAN, RPL, MPL, etc.). IEEE 1901.2 is further aligned with other important Smart Utility Network technologies such as IEEE 802.15.4g/e.  Multi service IP based NANs are thus a reality, able to seamlessly support a mixture of PHY/MAC technologies appropriate for specific deployments

The IEEE 1901.2 standard is in its final stages of development, with publishing of the finished document expected by the end of 2013.

HomePlug Netricity for Conformance and Interoperability Certification

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With the imminent arrival of the 1901.2 standard comes the need for a certification program to insure product conformance to the specification and interoperability between multiple vendor’s product offerings.  The HomePlug Powerline Alliance is rising to this challenge.  HomePlug’s Netricity program, with the full support of Cisco, is moving smartly ahead with development of a conformance and interoperability certification program for IEEE 1901.2 based devices.  Expect certification testing to begin 2014.

Cisco salutes the commitment and expertise of the entire 1901.2 and Netricity development teams. A global standard for interoperable NB-PLC will soon be a reality!

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Exploring the Internet of Everything in Canada

We sat down with Victor Woo to see how the Internet of Everything is creating innovation in Canada.

Victor, when we first talked, you were just settling in your new role with the Internet of Everything. Since we last spoke, is there anything interesting that you have noted about IoE in Canada?

Absolutely.  One aspect is that Canada is well known for its natural resources with a high concentration of industries in the energy sector. In oil and gas, for example, there is constant requirement to improve performance of existing assets, reduce capital expenditure and operating costs, and increase efficiencies with a limited number of experienced personnel. The opportunity to attach and intelligently connect sensors, or converge multiple systems and equipment used in energy extraction or delivery would yield tremendous benefits. The result of collecting vast amounts of data and turning it into meaningful, real-time information through big data analytics that optimizes the business of oil extraction, production and transport on a continual basis would create huge efficiencies and, at the very least, be transformative.

FOCUS is highlighting people across Cisco and in different parts of the world that are focusing on IoE. How are you approaching the IoE opportunity in the Canada market versus other parts of the world? How is IoE in Canada unique?

Cisco has outlined a vision of being a catalyst for innovation in Canada. Our approach to IoE leadership in Canada is similarly aligned. We seek to help Canadian organizations understand the potential of IoE and to realize how it can be transformative for them in achieving much greater levels of productivity and innovation. Our Cisco objective is to be good for our customers and good for Canada, and as such our strategy focuses on how IoE might help solve some of our national challenges in productivity and innovation, and create new and exciting opportunities. We are looking to change the innovation trajectory of Canada by establishing research chairs and investing in Canadian university research centres to support the advancement IoT/IoE technologies. And, we are working to increase the Cisco Canadian engineering footprint for the development of IoE related products.  Ultimately, our IoE strategy aligns and contributes to Cisco’s vision for Canada: to create a more productive Canada that invests in research, development and job creation.

One of the items you discussed in your first blog post is the importance of innovation and productivity in Canada. As you noted, Canada is ranked 14th in productivity for the second year in a row by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). There is a natural tie between innovation and IoE. Can you share a more of your thoughts about Canada’s role in being an innovative country and how IoE can help?

The importance for Canada needing to improve innovation is crucial. Canada’s growth in labour productivity has been weak – less than 1% annually on average for more than 10 years. It’s among the lowest rates throughout OECD nations. And it’s putting this country at risk to maintain its current standard of living, which is directly linked to productivity and innovation. Canada’s low rate of investment in IT for business also means innovation is likewise weak – especially among small and mid-sized companies where ICT investment in general is extremely low. Innovation fuels improvements in labour productivity. It’s all tied together.

IoE presents an opportunity to perhaps address these things. If we choose to lead the way in IoE adoption, Canada can position itself for success in today’s global economy AND perhaps address many of our current challenges in low ICT investment, which as mentioned ties to innovation, productivity and ultimately raising Canada’s standard of living.

And there are significant profits to be had. For 2013, the Canadian IoE value at stake is estimated to be $57 billion. With approximately $30 billion of value currently realized in the market, there remains much more on the table. The time to move towards innovation and productivity is now.

Can you comment on Canada’s progress on IoE?

I think we’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible for Canada. As you might expect, adoption of IoE is limited, but there’s strong belief and support for the concept. A recent Cisco Consulting Services survey of more than 7,500 businesses and IT decision makers from around the world shows that 80% of Canadian respondents surveyed say they’ve already seen the value and significance of IoE.  In healthcare, we see efforts to bring telemedicine into remote parts of Canada. An inspirational example is how patient care is being improved in Takla Landing by extending frequency of healthcare delivery to this remote community by using video connections to physicians located in urban locations. In the transportation industry, Cisco technology is connecting sensors and controllers, processes and personnel. For example, Bombardier, a global transportation industry leader is embedding IP technology to help its customers enhance rail operations and provide superior customer experience. In energy, BC Hydro is implementing a bold smart-grid initiative. More than 1.9 million smart meters have been deployed, all connected through an intelligent infrastructure to efficiently manage and monitor utilization while providing information to customers and helping them to better manage consumption. On the research front, Cisco Canada has partnered with the University of Waterloo in the area for the advancement of smart-grid research. These are just some of the examples of how the Internet of Everything is changing Canadian lives for the better. And it’s only the beginning.

Are there another opportunities that you would like to see Canada take a leadership role with the Internet of Everything.

Well, Canada is well known for its love of ice hockey. I have no doubt that we’ll see sensors on pucks and players in the near future. I’m excited to see how we work to transform the fan experience through the potential of the Internet of Everything!

 

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