Tech giant Oracle introduced two new tools for utilities companies today: Oracle Utilities Work, and Asset Cloud Service. Both services provide utilities companies with asset performance management (APM) tools that will be delivered through the cloud.

Oracle said the two services are designed to increase asset reliability by helping companies find asset failures more quickly and supporting predictive maintenance with integrated APM and analytics.

"Asset reliability and performance is core to well-functioning electric, gas, and water utilities," the company said in a statement. "An aging workforce, pressure from regulators, and scrutiny on cost reduction goals are driving the need to extend the life of existing assets."

Increased Interest in Analytics

The move within the utility sector toward distributed energy resources is making asset reliability an increasingly complex issue. One of the ways utilities are addressing the issue is by investing in analytics and performance monitoring tools for enterprise asset management in the hopes that advanced analytics will help improve asset reliability and performance tracking, according to Oracle.

"In response to these challenges, Oracle Utilities is taking a comprehensive approach to APM," the company said. "Historically, work order management, reliability-centric maintenance, asset tracking, advanced analytics, mobile scheduling, and operational reporting have been siloed applications. Today marks an important step towards integrating these capabilities."

The new services include several benefits for utilities companies, including the ability to reduce the risk of asset failures more quickly using out-of-the-box analytics to support repair-versus-replace decisions. The new tools also help detect patterns of asset failure with predefined dashboards and charts to improve investment and capital planning.

Extending the Life of Utility Assets

"Predictive analytics are changing the game for utility asset maintenance. Extending the life of utility assets can avoid expensive capital projects and lower maintenance costs," said Kevin Prouty, vice president, IDC Energy Insights, in the Oracle statement. "With the explosion of IoT devices and data around the corner, scalability of these systems will require IT infrastructure that can react and scale quickly. This makes utility asset maintenance applications even more prime for deployment in the cloud."

The company said the two new services will help reduce total cost of ownership for utility customers. Both services include integrated analytics, which can help optimize repair work and maintenance schedules.

"When you combine deregulation, changing legislation and market uncertainty stemming from increasing distributed energy resources, it's no surprise that utilities are looking for more ways to improve operations and cut costs,” said Rodger Smith, general manager and senior vice president, Oracle Utilities, in the statement.

Oracle Utilities Work and Asset Management Cloud Service provide detailed analytics and deep insights into the age, health, and performance of a company's assets. "The cloud infrastructure also gives utilities the flexibility to scale up quickly as new assets are added to the infrastructure from rising IoT and distributed energy resources that are adding more sensors on the network," Smith added.