ABB provides predictive maintenance to Illinois energy grid


Ameren Illinois, an electricity and natural gas utility that serves about three quarters of the state of Illinois, has chosen ABB to deliver predictive maintenance solutions as part of its multi-million-dollar initiative to modernise its energy delivery infrastructure.

“We are investing significant resources to modernise the grid, improve reliability and deliver value for our customers,” said Ron Pate, Senior Vice President, Operations and Technical Services, Ameren Illinois.

ABB’s Ability Ellipse Asset Performance Management (APM) software will help the energy company to more accurately predict and prevent equipment and infrastructure failures across a power delivery system that features 4500 miles of transmission lines, 46,000 miles of distribution lines and 1.2 million customers.

Power utility companies traditionally perform regularly scheduled check-ups to maintain their grid infrastructure. However, while these check-ups can detect obvious problems or assets on the verge of failure, they may not predict the conditions that could lead to possible future failures.

This is where ABB’s technology comes in. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the Ability Ellipse APM uses sensors, data and advanced analytics to constantly assess the real-time condition of assets, identifying when they might need repair or replacement well ahead of potential failure. With this information, Ameren Illinois can prioritise repairs and maintenance work, increasing worker safety and productivity, overall safety and return on investment from its assets.

In addition to implementing ABB’s software, Ameren Illinois has installed storm-resistant utility poles, automated switches and sensors, stronger power lines and outage detection technology in communities throughout central and southern Illinois. The utility has also installed new smart meters for its customers as part of its modernisation efforts.

Ameren Illinois already has a close relationship with ABB: its power grid features ABB power transformers and its APM software will integrate with existing ABB software that performs network management and data acquisition, as well as distributed control systems, among other services.

The energy and utilities sector as a whole is becoming increasingly reliant on advanced technologies such as AI, machine learning and advanced neural networks to manage fluctuating supply and demand. These technologies are also useful in incorporating power from traditional and renewable sources into its grid, which Ameren is investing heavily in. Technology leaders such as ABB will continue to be in high demand as power grids across the world modernise.