Feeling Like You Have No Control Over Asset Downtime? Here’s How Longroad Energy Changed That

Jeremy Law, VP of Commercial Asset Management for Longroad Energy, started his career in the Coast Guard and was eventually a tall ship captain before coming on land to renewable energy. There is a common misconception that most land lovers have about sea captains that they must love adventure. Law says, “People often say to me “If you’re a tall ship captain, you must love risk!” My response is always, “No, I’m a control freak,” because while I can't control the weather, if I control everything else, then I'm ready to deal with the thing I can't control.”

Law correlates this with asset management, “As I think about how we approach things in asset management, there's plenty I don't control, so I better control every single part of what I do.”

Yet control is what most asset managers don’t feel they have. Traditional asset monitoring solutions are supposed to help gain control, but instead they overwhelm operators with non-actionable alerts. Unexpected downtime leaves asset managers in fire-fighting mode. While downtime needs to happen to maintain assets, when it happens unexpectedly, downtime is longer than it should be. Asset managers don’t need more alerts, they need the right information proactively to put them back in control.

Hidden problems are nightmares for asset managers

Law explained that the lack of control comes from a lack of visibility into problems that may be brewing with assets. “It's in nobody's best interest for these assets to struggle so managing an asset and not knowing that there's a particular problem hiding is just brutal. It's the uncertainty that makes it a bigger problem where, if I can understand, and I can see it coming, then there are really smart people who can figure out ways to mitigate the issue. It's when we don't see it coming that it is just reactionary and it takes longer to fix.”

So why aren’t asset managers getting visibility into asset issues? The problem boils down to having too much of the wrong information and not enough of the right information. Traditional asset monitoring solutions are set up to measure a plethora of key performance indicators (KPIs) that taken in isolation don’t mean much. The result is that a two to three person asset management team is getting thousands of alerts daily. These alerts don’t have context to help operators understand what needs their attention. This is more than they can handle to investigate and prioritize so these alarms just become noise. And this is how asset issues remain hidden. Too many alerts are making them feel out of control and not having the right information is making it worse.

How analytics helped Longroad regain control

It was because of this lack of the right information that Longroad Energy brought on NarrativeWave to take their noisy alerts and turn it into actionable information. Law wanted to improve their asset information because as he stated, “Imperfect information drives uncertainty and that uncertainty drives cost.” NarrativeWave has event management which means that it can create intelligent triggers based on multiple related KPIs (an event) that would together indicate a problem that asset managers needed to be aware of. This immediately cuts down the noise of traditional asset monitoring and only serves up to asset managers those issues that are real and need to be dealt with.

Event management also provides context when an event is triggered. This makes it easy for an asset manager to understand if this is scheduled maintenance or unintended. The solution also automates prioritization of event alerts based on rules set by asset management. This saves significant time that asset managers can spend addressing issues.

How root cause analysis improves Longroad’s problem resolution

Another capability of NarrativeWave that helped Longroad Energy asset management regain control is root cause analysis.  NarrativeWave tracks the problem resolution of each issue and whether a repair worked or didn’t. NarrativeWave can then match up that success rate to the automated action plans.

For each event that asset managers see, they are provided the results of this automated root cause analysis which shows the probability percentage for root cause. This immediately puts asset managers back in control of the situation so they can confidently get the right people and equipment to where they need to be. It’s this level of information that Law says lowers downtime, “The more we can make information and data available at all levels of the value chain, the more we can just make sure that the most megawatt hours from renewable assets end up on the grid.”

You can’t control everything—so get control over what you can

In renewable energy, weather will always be a factor you can’t control, but you can control how it is impacting your assets. Law agrees, “As I think about how we approach things there's plenty I don't control, so I better control every single part of what I do. Because then I'm ready to meet performance objectives or even for the asset to get sold. I would even say, like a blade cracking in half, that I actually can control that. I can be doing drone inspections and ingesting that in a way that I can monitor it—that's controllable. Pretending to myself that it's not controllable is a cop out.”

Having the data to show when an issue will be occurring helps Longroad Energy mitigate risk and put their asset managers back in control.

And according to Law, with control comes the ability to make performance improvements. "Longroad is always looking for ways to leverage data and increase the value of our wind, solar and storage assets. Through our partnership with NarrativeWave we are identifying sources of lost energy in an automated and efficient process so that our teams can take corrective action. We are excited about this new and powerful tool for our team."

Learn how NarrativeWave works with traditional monitoring solutions to significantly reduce downtime and improve performance from this great comparison article.

George Garforth, PhD
George Garforth, PhD
Senior Director of Client and Data Engineering