Keeping the lights on
Looking after assets and services that more than 64 million people in the UK rely on every day is a big responsibility. Making sure that these services run smoothly is part of the task but more and more, Amey’s clients and customers are challenging them to deliver smarter, more intelligent solutions that not only meet the demands of today, but help futureproof too.
Often it’s the combination of digital tools, analytical know-how and expertise in frontline service delivery that makes ‘the lights’ go on.
This isn’t just a metaphor for Amey’s unique blend of consulting and delivery services. In the utilities sector, the team are literally helping to provide safe, reliable and efficient energy to millions of customers.
With well over 20 years’ of experience working in the power market Amey’s services span the whole-lifecycle of a project, from feasibility design and construction to the refurbishment and reconfiguration of existing assets. Working directly with licensed distribution and transmission network operators, the team specialises in long-term framework agreements that create real value for clients and customers.
Creating greener, more sustainable power
Among Amey’s industry-leading capabilities, is their expertise in electrical transmission and distribution services for substations, HV cabling and overhead line design from 11kV to 400kV. Substation solutions they have designed has enabled more than 800mW of renewable energy to be exported onto the grid.
Working with SP Energy Networks – who supply power to 3.5 million homes and businesses in Scotland, England and Wales – Amey’s consulting business developed an end-to-end programme to build a new substation that would connect two major wind farm developments in South Ayrshire to the grid.
The project included the complete construction of the new substation and major site preparation civil works. The design works allowed for the removal of substantial peat strata and the provision of a new formation level. It also included the diversion and protection of the existing water course, access road improvements and the construction of the substation’s HV compound and control building.
Big data equals big benefits
National Grid owns and maintains about 15,000 circuit kilometres of overhead electricity transmission lines across England and Wales. A large portion of those overhead lines were installed in the early ‘60s and are fast approaching the end of their designed asset life. However, to replace them all will be a huge task and potentially cost UK consumers billions. With this in mind, Ofgem (the regulating body for electricity and gas) requires National Grid to maximise the utilisation of these ageing assets, while managing the risk of loss of energy supply, and at the same time sharing the benefit with UK consumers.
To achieve these goals, National Grid has adopted modern asset management practices, which focus on portfolio management, risk management and asset lifecycle management. One of the key elements which enables these asset management activities is detailed, granular asset condition information. However, this condition information needs to be processed and utilised carefully within the wider business context, through the lens of data science and mathematical modelling. This is the only way to turn this data into a clear and reliable vision of future network condition, which is the key to long term investment strategies.
Amey’s Consulting business is working with National Grid to deliver just that. As part of this work, we have built a data-driven model of the condition assessment process that is used by National Grid to forecast the future network risks involved in overhead line conductors. The model has been used to drive improvements to National Grid’s asset management practices and achieve savings for the UK consumers.
By bringing intelligent, data-led solutions, we’re helping decision-makers to optimise their asset management strategy based on a balance of risk, cost, and process complications. Part of our vision is that soon, all asset management decisions will be based on science – rather than budget.
A unique offering, unlimited applications
Our Consulting Business is one of the things that sets Amey apart from others in our industry. The team works collaboratively across the business to deliver a whole lifecycle approach to asset management – something that we originally piloted in our rail business.
With customer expectations at an all-time high, and budgets under more pressure than ever, we’re predicting that the need for data-based, life-cycle asset management consultancy mixed with operational delivery will grow rapidly in the coming years. We’re already geared up to provide both the analysis and frontline delivery so our focus is on expanding our already diverse team to meet this demand.
In the next year, we’ll be bringing in even more skills and expertise to help maximise our impact on the country’s most valuable assets and making sure that we’re keeping the lights on long into the future.