IBM and Black & Veatch monitor energy assets

  • August 10, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

IBM and Black & Veatch are targeting the energy and utilities sectors in their join marketing of asset performance management technologies.

These include remote monitoring that combines near real-time data analytics with artificial intelligence to help keep equipment and assets running at peak performance and reliability.

The companies are combining Black & Veatch asset management services and digital analytics with the IBM Maximo application suite. These products are designed to help organisations support more resilient operations for industrial, energy and utilities assets.

Kansas-based Black & Veatch operates four monitoring and diagnostics centres and has experience with near real-time, detection and analysis of emerging problems by running thousands of models and scenarios to predict changes in asset performance.

IBM Maximo’s assist, monitor, health, predict and visual inspection capabilities aim to integrate Black & Veatch monitoring and diagnostics expertise and data analytics with maintenance management to bring them into the field where the insights can be applied.

The two companies are also planning to expand the IBM Digital Twin Exchange using Black & Veatch’s digital-twin asset models.

“Digital twins will be a necessary part of the industrial sector’s digital future because of the detailed understanding they provide and expert analysis they enable for complex assets,” said Dave Brill, vice president at Black & Veatch. “The IBM Digital Twin Exchange can make this level of understanding more accessible by connecting customers in asset-intensive industries and in need of digital twins with members of IBM’s rapidly growing partner ecosystem that can share their models. As part of this collaboration, Black & Veatch plans to develop digital-twin asset models to sell through the Digital Twin Exchange, expanding the library’s inventory.”

Faced with aging equipment, tightening budgets, increased regulation and rapidly changing market dynamics, operators and engineers require increased visibility into their equipment performance and asset conditions. Remote monitoring technology can help organisations understand their assets better by providing a near real-time view of operations. Once data are collected, they can enable predictive and conditions-based maintenance, where problems are proactively corrected before they escalate into system breakdown, in an effort to limit downtime and increase productivity.

As assets and facilities continue to evolve and the data they generate grow, knowing how to manage and use this information effectively is a major challenge for many organisations. As a result, the dashboards used for monitoring data can be overwhelming and have so many alerts that important ones may be ignored.

AI and machine learning can help bridge that gap and reduce this alarm fatigue by sorting through the thousands of incoming datapoints, so organisations can prioritise alerts and decisively plan their actions.

This collaboration combines IBM’s software, artificial intelligence and machine-learning expertise with Black & Veatch’s engineering knowhow to help reduce thousands of incoming data points to a handful of actionable escalations by making predictions and then screening and diagnosing alerts.

With more than 20 years of experience in near real-time data analytics, Black & Veatch provides a deep understanding of how facilities and systems operate, and its expertise and models are used to train IBM’s AI to detect anomalies and support monitoring at scale.

“Organisations in every industry need to figure out how to use the vast amounts of data generated within their own systems,” said Kareem Yusuf, IBM general manager for AI and blockchain. “Monitoring insights that combine AI and machine-learning technology with deep industry expertise can help organisations make better sense of their data and use them to manage their assets better. IBM and Black & Veatch are collaborating to deliver insights that can be applied to improve the performance of assets and extend their lifespans.”

Black and Veatch is part of IBM’s partner ecosystem helping unlock the value of Industry 4.0 by accelerating the adoption of open hybrid cloud and AI for users in essential industries such as manufacturing, energy, retail and smart cities. IBM’s partner ecosystem is designed to fuel hybrid cloud environments by helping users manage and modernise workloads from the mainframe to the edge and everything in between with Red Hat OpenShift, an enterprise Kubernetes platform.

Black & Veatch is an employee-owned engineering, procurement, consulting and construction company with a more than 100-year track record of innovation in sustainable infrastructure. Since 1915, it has helped improve the lives of people around the world by addressing the resilience and reliability of important infrastructure assets. Revenues in 2020 exceeded $3bn.