Many parts of the world are undergoing structural reform in terms of their utilities and services, and Electrical Utilities are no exception. Privatization was opening up both opportunities and challenges for the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC). “With greater competition on the horizon, the company needed to push its efficiency to the next level”, says a new Cisco case study that talks about the business challenges and how Cisco is helping EAC address them.
As the case study mentions, EAC uses SAP applications for almost every area of business, from materials and warehouse management to enterprise resource planning, finances, and human resources. By improving performance of these SAP applications, EAC realized that it could boost productivity and help departments run smoother across the organization. So that’s what it’s doing.
So EAC turned to Cisco and our partners to provide a solution that could help EAC take cycles out of the business whilst still maintaining agility and resilience and allowing them to scale for the future. That solution has, at the heart of it, the Cisco FlexPod environment, built around Cisco® Unified Data Center solutions and NetApp storage (supported via the FlexPod Cooperative Support Model), and helps get gets the most out of SAP applications.
Some pretty compelling Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) numbers are expected, along with other valuable business benefits as outlined in the case study:
- Reports that used to take 24 hours to complete take far less time -- great for managers to get visibility into the business sooner
- Faster closing of monthly financial periods -- faster visibility into the Utility’s performance
- Faster migration of user applications down from two to three months to just one month so users can be up-and-running with less delay.
- Backups that used to take 40 hours can now be completed in only 45 minutes, getting systems up to speed faster than ever.
All-in-all an impressive improvement. I’ll leave the last word to Phanos Kolokotronis, IT manager and CIO, Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) as he states in the case study:
To read more about EAC, the business, and the solution offered with product lists from Cisco and the Cisco Partners (which includes Oracle for the database along with the Oracle Customer Care and Billing application; SAP ECC6; Esri GIS and the Aspect Contact Centre software) click here.
Let us know if you have a similar story you’d like to share and, as always, please engage us with comments telling us your views.
Tags: EAC, Electricity Authority of Cyprus, FlexPod, netapp, Oracle, SAP, utilities
Join Cisco at European Utility Week 2014 (4-6 November, 2014 in Amsterdam) to gain perspective on key industry issues and learn why utilities worldwide are choosing Cisco to lower their costs and deliver more value from their operations on a single, intelligent and secure platform.
I’m looking forward to meeting up with you at the European Utility week this week. It’s a chance for Cisco to show you some of our newest offers and solutions, but more importantly for us to hear from you at our booth and during the conference.
Come experience our range of industry use case demonstrations and our Ecosystem of Cisco and partners solutions that cover the Utilities and related industries: Field Area Network, Grid Security, Grid Operations, Fog Computing, Distribution Automation, Data Analytics, and a lot more besides!
Over the course of three days, industry leaders come together at this event to discuss the challenges that lie ahead and agree on a path of action that will involve the adoption of specialized and technical solutions. Cisco will be showing several demonstrations and experts will be on hand to talk to you about your care-abouts and discuss how Cisco is highly relevant to your business. Industry partners such as ATOS and Intel will also be sharing their demonstrations at our booth.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Click here or on the picture to see an online floor plan
Tags: european utility week, EUW, field area network, metering, SmartGrid, substation automation, utilities
Holding onto “Tribal Knowledge”
Recent data from the Department of Energy (DOE) indicates that approximately 60% of electric utility workers will be eligible for retirement in the next five years. The impending loss of the most skilled and knowledgeable workers in the industry has put many utility companies on red alert. This potential workforce crisis means that companies have just a few years to transfer what’s often referred to as, “Tribal Knowledge” from those retiring to those who will have to fill their shoes.
Many utility workers hold positions within their companies for nearly 30 years, so one can easily imagine the amount of intangible knowledge and varying experiences that each worker has. What companies really need is a way to tap into the experienced worker’s knowledge while traveling in the field. Better yet, they would like to find a way to limit travel in the field; traveling hundreds of miles to analyze and solve problems poses its own set of risks, from driving hazards to on the job injuries. When something goes wrong on the grid, lives are at risk.
Challenges in the Field
Much of the information and knowledge needed by today’s utility worker is stored in a computer or in the cloud, and is not accessible in the field by the organization’s workers. Because of this, institutional knowledge and expertise decreases. Many companies today are purchasing collaboration solutions, including web meeting software, video and Internet-based phone systems. This package is intended to upgrade collaboration across business units, address the issues of lost tribal knowledge, increase workforce effectiveness and manage company priorities arising from their aging workforce. Challenges faced include a slow, sub-optimal rollout plan, forced by lower company revenues. Analysis points to automation of capture and storage of knowledge, utilities could take advantage of their expert employee’s skills and leverage their knowledge for less experienced workers in the field, thereby giving a good return on investment for early deployment of mobile collaboration.
There are three immediate problems to resolve: access to Tribal Knowledge, better utilization of experts for training, and improving safety for the mobile workforce traveling in the field. Companies remind us on a regular basis that training a utility lineman can take 10 years or more – and the average age of the current power lineman workforce is 47-years-old. Utilities are also focusing on retention of younger employees, who are generally more technologically savvy and who expect work access to tools they use outside the workplace, like smart phones and other wireless technologies. In fact, new or younger workers prefer to work in an area with new technology. Mobile devices such as smart phones and ruggedized tablets can be especially useful in the field where workers can get access to advice from experts in real-time or even start a meeting -- all to create increase access to institutional knowledge.
One component of Cisco’s solution is expert locator software. Employees such as line workers and technicians would have the ability to be connected anytime or anywhere via a five-product Enterprise Collaboration solution: Expert Locator, IP call control with video IP phones, web meeting (Webex), an immersive video solution (TelePresence) and ruggedized mobile video (Librestream Onsight).
New technology can change the way utilities conduct business
Workers would use mobile video in the field to show details of problems to experts throughout the company, senior workers could provide advice and support for repair of damaged equipment in the field without having to travel to the field. Experts can also quickly convene and escalate meetings to resolve a problem via the web and Telepresence. If a worker is on-site and there are challenges with a device, the worker can start a meeting, have the ability to share and give/get advice in real-time. Because of this, repair times go down while safety goes up.
How can Cisco help your organization support new collaboration and create a mobile workforce? Find out more by visiting our solutions page and share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Tags: #MFG, Cisco, decision making, employee productivity, Energy, innovation, Manufacturing, utilities
Please welcome Donald Graham, Practice Advisor, Manufacturing & Energy Practice, Business Transformation Group to the Cisco Energy Blog.
Donald Graham, Practice Advisor
Manufacturing & Energy Practice
Business Transformation Group
I am pleased to introduce Donald Graham, a Sr. Vertical Practice Advisor in Cisco’s Business Transformation Group, to the Cisco Energy Blog. I his role Donald is responsible for helping to catalyze and accelerate customer business impact from technology investment across the Utilities and Smart Grid Practice. He draws upon 20 years of private and public sector experience where he assisted companies through development of technology transformation strategies. His areas of expertise includes; Internet of Things (IoT), Smart Grid and Utilities, Security, Workforce enablement, Organization Transformation, and Business/IT Alignment.
Before joining Cisco Systems, Donald worked at IBM Global Services, where he assisted Fortune 500 clients, such as HSBC, Gore, New Zealand Diary and Citibank in developing global and business architectures for organizational transformation strategies.
He is a graduate of New Jersey Institute of Technology, BS, Industrial Engineering,a Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE), a member of IEEE Power and Energy Society and Marine Corps veteran.
He has presented on a wide range of Technology and Business events such as:
We look forward to his industry insights and thought leadership. Welcome Donald!
Tags: Btx, Business Transformation Group, Cisco, donald graham, Energy, utilities
You 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, 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
“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.
Tags: BKK, BKK AS, cisco case study, Energy, mpls, power, Smart Grid, utilities