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San Diego Gas & Electric to Use AI-Driven URD Cable Fleet Maintenance Tool

Jan. 25, 2019
SDG&E is now able to implement intelligent predictive maintenance

mPrest has recently delivered to San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) its URD Cable Fleet Maintenance Optimization application, an AI-enhanced tool that predicts impending cable failures and enables SDG&E to optimize URD cable fleet maintenance operations. mPrest and SDG&E will be jointly delivering a paper that presents their breakthrough data-driven approach to URD cable maintenance at the upcoming DistribuTECH 2019 conference.

The limited visibility of the service providers when it comes to the condition of their cable fleets makes it difficult to prioritize maintenance and replacement activities, predict impending failures, and prevent them before they happen.  As a result, cable replacement is predominantly based on experience or is reactive. Even when there is a proactive cable replacement plan, in many instances, they are based primarily on cable age, known bad vintage, or common practice, such as the removal of unjacketed cables. Using AI and a combination of system information and the utility’s operations and engineering insights, mPrest is able to provide an application that provides superior operational and financial results.

“We were looking for a way to bring greater predictability to our URD cable fleet performance,” said Jade Thiemsuwan, team lead and engineer at SDG&E. “Working with mPrest’s data analytics-based product, we are able to leverage myriad data across our systems to gain valuable insight into the condition of our URD cables. This has resulted in optimized maintenance budget planning and more cost-effective operations.  We are now able to replace the most likely cable segments to fail, in a proactive manner, thus reducing replacement costs significantly, while reducing the number of unplanned outages. This translates into better quality of service for our customers – our main goal.”

mPrest’s interactive budget optimization tool allows SDG&E’s technical teams to import and analyze historical data regarding failures and current fleet performance. They can then obtain a breakdown of the most relevant features affecting cable lifespan, as well as a detailed and prioritized list of cable segments to be replaced given a specified budget.

By gaining better insight into cable-failure probability, at a segment level, SDG&E is now able to implement intelligent predictive maintenance, thus reducing the need for costly reactive cable replacement. By combining financial and analytical tools, SDG&E’s financial team can build a proactive budget, based on the cable-replacement prices for the reactive and proactive cases, broken down into both CapEx and OpEx costs. User-friendly dashboards visualize 10-year projections of reactive, proactive and reliability costs for each year, including predicted savings. As part of mPrest’s “System of Systems” orchestration platform, the application integrates all relevant backend systems into a single OT/IT integrated platform that enables automation of the URD cable replacement planning process as well.

“Data-driven digital transformation is changing the way utilities do business, with analytics and AI tools driving innovation across the industry,” said Ron Halpern, chief commercial officer, mPrest. “Using our big data analytics-based application, SDG&E can now gain visibility into URD cable survivability and optimize maintenance/ replacement planning, resulting in major savings and improving their level of service to consumers.”

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