The Impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on Electrical Asset Maintenance

Artificial intelligence (AI) in predictive maintenance

Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are revolutionizing how electrical assets are maintained. AI enables organizations to gain a competitive edge by leveraging condition monitoring data to make better data-driven decisions, minimize downtime, optimize resources, and improve operational effectiveness.

Cloud computing, IoT, and broadband capacity have made these AI-enabled advantages possible.

Today, the world continues to evolve digitally due to the rise of remote working and the increasing spike in technological advancements such as robotics and artificial intelligence. The need for digitalization has become more significant across many industrial sectors, irrespective of the competitive landscape.

Digitalization is a prerequisite for every organization as they strive to become more efficient and achieve sustainability objectives. This evolution fosters the importance of improvement in thinking, structure, operation, and development by moving proactively towards more innovative ways of solving problems and adapting to the ever-developing digital landscape.

An increasing shift towards electrical power is inevitable for every organization, and to ensure optimal operation, reliability, and personnel safety, proper electrical infrastructure maintenance is as essential as maintaining a stable power supply.

Across many industries, organizations have relied on the traditional method of electrical asset maintenance. The various approaches to electrical asset maintenance typically involve scheduled, routine, and reactive ways of managing electrical equipment. Traditional asset maintenance revolves around periodic inspections, preventive maintenance, reactive repairs, or response to failure.

Over time, flaws have emerged with traditional asset maintenance approaches, which can result in unplanned downtime and higher maintenance costs. These flaws negatively impact the smooth-running operations for industries compared to modern, IIoT, and AI-driven maintenance approaches.

With the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the landscape of critical asset maintenance has undergone a transformative shift, which is also evident in electrical assets. Electrical assets are now harnessing the predictive capabilities of sensors for better asset monitoring, providing alarm notifications and data-driven insights, resulting in the enhanced efficiency of electrical assets.

The role of AI in electrical asset maintenance

AI is playing a significant role in the approach to electrical asset maintenance, positively transforming organizations that rely on critical infrastructure to deliver products and services. Here, we explore the role and impact of AI in electrical asset maintenance.

Artificial intelligence tools can perform some tasks automatically by mimicking human intellect, thus eliminating the need for manual intervention.

AI in predictive maintenance

The development of Industry 4.0, which connects manufacturing technology through the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), is closely linked to AI's capacity for predictive maintenance.

Predictive maintenance is one of the most prominent areas in electrical asset maintenance, where technological advancements like AI are present. The sensors within electrical equipment enable 24x7 predictive maintenance and continuous equipment monitoring. Temperature, vibration, power consumption, and other metrics are among the parameters that can be collected.

The AI system's 'brain’,' driven by machine learning algorithms, receives condition monitoring data. The brain looks for patterns that could indicate a potential anomaly, or worse, a failure, by utilizing the data relating to environmental conditions and performance metrics. With data gathered in real-time, the always-on predictive maintenance approach provides continuous feedback from critical electrical assets.

The reliance on periodic or reactive maintenance approaches across all industries is the typical approach for asset maintenance. In today's globalized business landscape, preventative maintenance may no longer be sufficient as an asset management strategy.

Examining the condition of electrical equipment regularly does not guarantee optimal asset performance. There are now better, more efficient methods of reducing unplanned downtime and lost productivity.

Organizations heavily dependent on electrical power being distributed around a facility will frequently need to perform maintenance to ensure the equipment can withstand the requirements of everyday operations, especially where assets have been in use for many years. Studies on how the aging of electrical equipment affects asset failure reveal a strong dependence on maintenance practices. A downside of reactive or periodic maintenance is that it can be expensive with robust maintenance processes, especially if precision maintenance approaches are not put in place.

The prevalence of automation and digital tools such as computerized management software (CMS) coupled with AI has intensified the paradigm shift in asset maintenance and facility management over the last decade. With machine learning and predictive maintenance, strategically placed sensors within the equipment enable the continuous monitoring of viscosity, energy consumption, vibration, and temperature. By leveraging real-time data, analytics, and machine learning algorithms, AI can predict potential failures before they occur and provide actionable insights. AI models examine temperature trends, load patterns, historical data, and other parameters in electrical assets such as transformers, switchgear, and cables. This allows the AI models to predict potential problems before anomalies turn into asset failures.

The impact of AI in electrical asset maintenance continues to evolve, with more areas for improvement as the technology develops. Some of the effects of AI on electrical asset maintenance include:

  • Enhanced safety and risk mitigation

    The management of electrical assets must prioritize safety, both for personnel and property. AI's predictive capabilities help identify safety hazards related to possible asset failures. AI can analyze data from several sensors in electrical assets to identify anomalies and safety concerns. Safety risks are mitigated by detecting issues in advance, preventing accidents, and providing maintenance personnel and other stakeholders with a safer working environment.
  • Improved equipment efficiency and reliability

    For manufacturing, logistics, and operations, techniques such periodic maintenance checks might not be sufficient to verify asset reliability in a complex, fast-paced setting. Through monitoring and the continuous analysis of real-time data, electrical equipment will be more reliable. Large volumes of sensor data gathered from the electrical assets can be monitored by AI algorithms to find the connections and patterns that humans typically miss when using thermography surveys. Maintenance can be timed precisely to minimize disruption, help prevent catastrophic breakdowns, and maximize asset longevity by identifying anomalies and the early indicators of deterioration. By ensuring that assets are operating within ideal parameters, this proactive strategy reduces the chance of unplanned failures and increases reliability.
  • Cost reduction and resource optimization

    With the early detection of failures, organizations can save costs by administering precise corrective methods when an anomaly is identified. This significantly decreases the need for unnecessary periodic maintenance and time-consuming checks that often fail to guarantee asset efficiency compared with AI predictive maintenance. Unplanned downtime that can be expensive for an organization is reduced with AI-driven forecasts that optimize resource allocation and reduce operational costs.
  • Data-driven decision making

    Integrating AI in electrical asset maintenance provides predictive capabilities by analyzing vast amounts of data from several sensors, historical records, and real-time monitoring systems to identify anomalies, facilitating data-driven decision-making processes. The insights from this data help organizations track asset health and implement precise interventions like maintenance schedules, part replacements, and performance evaluation, guiding informed corrective actions.
  • Fault detection and proactive maintenance

    Algorithms identify potential faults in real time by analyzing data from sensors. Leveraging machine learning algorithms to detect anomalies and foreseeable faults in electrical equipment helps organizations carry out proactive interventions to avoid failures and unplanned downtime, which improves the asset's efficiency and optimizes operation. The continuous monitoring of electrical assets negates unnecessary maintenance, optimizing operational efficiency and avoiding additional maintenance costs.

    In conclusion, the landscape of electrical asset maintenance is constantly evolving as a result of AI development. Despite the initial expenses involved with integrating AI into predictive maintenance, the long-term advantages greatly exceed the OPEX and CAPEX expenses. This is particularly important for sectors of the economy that constantly experience resource constraints and budget cuts.

    Innovative computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics, and advanced predictive models are all changing the environment. AI integrated into a predictive maintenance model for assets promises a brighter future for a more responsive maintenance ecosystem.
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