US electric and natural gas energy company UIL Holdings has hired a consortium of companies to deliver a solution to cut outage times and boost network efficiency through IT-OT convergence.

UIL, the parent company of gas and electric distributors in Connecticut, has teamed with consultancy Accenture and systems integration provider Structure to implement a new solution from Ventyx.

The companies will work together to integrate the Ventyx Outage Lifecycle Management solution with UI’s information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) to improve communications to customers, performance, reliability and grid management.

Reducing outage times

Joseph Thomas, VP of Electric System Operations at UI, explained that the objective is to enable the utility to better handle outage response during storms while managing crews and resources more efficiently during normal operations.

Mr Thomas said: “At a time when our legacy infrastructure and IT systems are under increasing pressure from adverse weather and new energy sources on the grid, we have initiated an ambitious program to upgrade our transmission and distribution technologies to ensure that our customers continue to receive the highest level of service.

“This initiative will help us to better prepare for major weather events, improve operational efficiencies and provide our customers, maintenance crews and other stakeholders with proactive, timely and accurate information on service delivery and restoration.”

IT-OT integration

Accenture and Structure will provide process design, technology deployment and configuration, testing and integration services across the IT and OT solution.

David Shepheard, Structure partner and utility strategy practice leader at Structure, said, “When done right, integrating IT and OT solutions promises to improve storm response, create efficiencies during normal operations and provide flexibility for future grid innovations.”

The Ventyx solution is designed to transform utilities’ response to planned and unplanned outages by integrating smart equipment with industrial software for distribution management, outage management, SCADA, mobile workforce management and business analytics to support the entire lifecycle of outage management from planning to restoration and continuous improvement of response strategies.

“By integrating vital technologies such as mobile workforce management and advanced analytics with its outage management system, Ventyx OLM software will help UI connect the control room with the grid to provide increased situational awareness,” said Jens Birgersson, head of ABB’s Network Management Business Unit.

“As a result, UI will be able to more quickly isolate and restore outages, prioritize repair work and increase efficiency by sending the right crews with the right equipment to affected areas, while keeping stakeholders proactively informed about the forecasted impact and restoration time.”