This was originally posted on the PwC blog.

When it comes to managing assets and driving the next generation of improvements, utility companies can gain inspiration from industries such as aviation and manufacturing in how to leverage emerging fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies. 

Deploying emerging technologies that have already been tried and tested can not only help water wholesalers get the most out of their previous investments--it can also help them prepare for Ofwat’s 2019 price review (PR19) and improve service and reduce costs. 

We have witnessed significant change in the water sector during the past decade, and this trend is set to accelerate with PR19. The regulator is raising the bar around the quality of business plans it expects from companies. “We want companies to produce high-quality, ambitious, and innovative business plans, pushing forward the performance of the sector as a whole and stretching the boundaries for delivery and efficiency.” 

A significant wave of investment in the 1990s in telemetry and SCADA reflected a steep acceleration in service and efficiency in the water sector post privatization. Since then, operational technology improvements have been largely incremental during each asset management period (AMP).

However, outside of the utilities sector, we’ve seen a seismic shift in the availability of new technology just in the last AMP period–and the landscape continues to evolve quickly.

The emergence of cloud computing, machine learning, predictive analytics and smart sensors is bringing about a new paradigm in managing and operating production lines, networked assets, logistics, and interactions with customers. These capabilities can be built on past technology investments, and opportunities are underpinned by an increasing scale of data and the need to undertake more sophisticated predictive and prescriptive analytics.

PwC research shows that 72% of organizations believe that emerging digital technology--like Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), smart sensors, location detection, 3D printing, and mobile devices, will be a core part of operations in five years. A further 83% believe that data and analytics will be the foundation of this change. Yet this requires significant improvement, given that only 14% of organizations at present have a cross functional data and analytics capability.

We believe that these new technologies provide water wholesalers a significant competitive advantage in analyzing and driving insights, automating asset monitoring and work scheduling, and enhancing systems across treatment and network assets. These capabilities can lead to lower overall totex, better customer improvements, and improved resilience.

In addition to utilities, we are helping companies in many other sectors deal with the disruption associated with these new technologies. Our Alliance with GE Digital is instrumental in these efforts, as GE helps organizations meet these challenges every day. GE has a rich history as a thought leader in the Industrial Internet. Access our full paper to see suggested steps for companies. A robust business case for your investment plans in these areas in AMP7, particularly in light of PR19, can benefit your customers, employees, and investors.

Leveraging Investments in the Past

Renewable Energy, Water

Adopting New Technologies

Leveraging past investments and adopting technologies developed under the banner of the Industrial Internet can help Water Wholesalers drive the next generation of improvements in AMP7.

Deploying emerging technologies that have already been tried and tested can only help water wholesalers get the most out of their previous investments.

DOWNLOAD THE PAPER

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About the author

Barry Middleton

Director, Energy and Utilities, PwC

A Director within PwC's Energy and Utilities ​Consulting practice, Barry has extensive experience in shaping and delivering business transformation within the sector with a particular focus on Capital Projects and Infrastructure Management. Barry specializes in strategy, organization capability development, and operational improvement across new infrastructure clients and those managing a portfolio of existing ​assets. Barry has spent most of his career focused in the water sector advising clients on their investment plans and asset management capabilities and has lead and advised on programs to transform their infrastructure management capabilities. ​Barry has also worked heavily advising nuclear new build and nuclear decommissioning clients.

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