Powerco improves asset management investment planning

New Zealand's second largest natural gas and electricity distributor, Powerco, has over 420,000 customers across the North Island.


The Challenge

Powerco is New Zealand's second largest natural gas and electricity distributor with over 420,000 customers across the North Island and networks that span 57,000 square kilometres. The company provides critical infrastructure for homes and businesses across the region and wanted more reliable and easier access to important asset information to support better investment decisions.

Optimising asset lifecycle management is critical to ensuring the ongoing reliability of the infrastructure network. Additionally, Powerco operates within a highly regulated industry with returns partially based on the company’s asset base, and so business performance is fundamentally linked to the ability to effectively manage that asset base. 

Existing asset information systems were characterised by multiple data sources and disparate reporting tools. It was costly and difficult to produce consistent results for regulators with a high reliance on the technical expertise of a few individuals. Powerco also needed to be able to model different scenarios quickly to optimise its investment plans.

The Solution

Datacom worked very closely with key business users to develop a deep understanding of Powerco’s business, the asset data available across the systems and the wide ranging business rules applied to the data to derive regulatory reports and investment planning models. 

A robust and flexible solution was designed and implemented to load core data relating to assets, locations and network elements providing the basis for meaningful correlations to be established and analytics to be performed. Each spatial location can now be cross-referenced with individual assets and environmental factors incluidng climate and soil conditions. Business rules such as unit costs and the economic life of equipment can also be applied to build up rich models to drive regulatory reports and internal investment planning scenarios.

The platform is enabling this geospatially-described asset data to be more easily combined with other information such as customer complaints and fault data. This is allowing analysis to determine whether meaningful correlations exist between particular asset types in an area or located on a particular soil type and fault volumes. Armed with this deeper understanding of assets and operations, Powerco is able to optimise decisions around future investments.

The system provides much wider access to the underlying data allowing business users to generate reports and conclusions themselves with reliance on IT specialists or key technical business users.  This delivers time savings but also results in a much better understanding of the data itself, leading to better decisions. Business risk due to reliance on the technical expertise of a few key individuals has been significantly reduced.

Previously some reports took weeks to produce and were very difficult to reproduce. Now the same reports can be created in a matter of hours, allowing users to model different scenarios and then reproduce the results, delivering a significant improvement in data quality.

“Datacom has worked hard to develop a deep understanding of our business and delivered a flexible system to optimise our future investment planning. As we continue to extend it, it will become an increasingly important tool for making decisions critical to our business success.”

Paul Ward - Programme Manager, Powerco

Results

  • Improved understanding of correlations between asset-related data allows better future investment planning.
  • Reduced reporting generation time from several weeks to hours, saving time and allowing modelling of different scenarios