Knowledge Centre

Taking a people-first approach to LV network performance management

20th September 2021

As the first major economy in the world to pledge to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050, the UK has set its distribution network operators (DNOs) a huge and vital task.

Achieving net zero requires a dramatic shift in the way we manage distribution networks and the level of visibility and responsiveness around them. Solar panels, heat pumps, electric vehicles and even hot tubs and patio heaters place very different load profiles on the low-voltage (LV) networks putting aging infrastructure under real pressure.

To keep the performance of the network high, DNOs need much greater visibility of the health of their LV networks—and that’s where Kelvatek can help. Every DNO in the UK is already working with Kelvatek and utilising our fault management equipment across their networks. The next step is to help DNOs realise the full benefits of our technology and gain the insight they need to meet the net zero challenge.

Beyond technology

As Kelvatek has evolved, we’ve realised that in order to drive performance and sustainable growth in every sense, we need to work in collaboration with DNOs and help them get the maximum value from their investments in our equipment, software and services.

To that end, we’ve formed a Customer Performance Team, whose role is to dive into the data we collect from all our equipment, uncover best practices, and identify areas for improvement. We then feed back to our clients during regular touchpoints and provide targeted training and insights to help overcome challenges and drive performance.

Clients who work with us see up to a 4-fold increase in the number of fault locations that they can pinpoint, and at least a 30% increase in the number of recloses every device makes in the field. Our team includes both data scientists and operations experts with years of experience of working in the field, helping us understand the whole picture, from data insights about the entire fleet to compliance issues on the ground.

Doubling savings

One of our key roles in the Customer Performance Team is to help managers and field teams understand not only how to install and respond to our equipment, but why it matters and what the benefits are. For example, when recommended processes are followed, each set of equipment can deliver 7 times its list price value per year when utilised to its full potential.

As an example, we recently engaged with one of our clients when we realised that they weren’t getting the savings we expected from the equipment they had rolled out. We set up regular calls with them and presented data to show where the problems were occurring. In this instance, there were issues with their processes both at a fleet management level and during faults themselves.

Working together with regional managers and field teams, we provided training and background on why it’s so worthwhile for operators to call into our Sapient fault assistance service. This exchange of information between experienced engineers, supported by technical insights, algorithms, and analytical systems, provided valuable data about defects and faults, and enabled our client to make cost-effective decisions about how to manage, repair or replace parts of its network. In fact, as a result of making more effective use of services that it was already paying for, the DNO was able to double its savings in a matter of months.

Investing in net zero

For most DNOs, the savings from Kelvatek’s fault and load monitoring equipment and services can be in the order of several million pounds per year, and we estimate that our best-performing clients are saving around £3 per customer per annum. When DNOs are looking to invest similar amounts in net zero initiatives, that’s a potentially transformational sum.

Moreover, by taking full advantage of the intelligence that our equipment provides, DNOs can not only fix faults faster, but also gain deeper insight into their network. For example, they can monitor losses, phase imbalance, load capacity and voltage levels, and even identify low-carbon technology connections. This visibility is useful to support connections and guide targeted investment in the network as more heat pumps, electric vehicles and other devices come online and demand patterns continue to shift.

Putting the customer at the centre

In the big picture, our Customer Performance Team is an exemplar of Kelvatek’s new business strategy. Our heritage is in products and technology, but we’ve always seen ourselves as engineers who are driven by curiosity to solve problems.

The performance improvements that we’ve worked with our clients to deliver over the last year have helped avoid an extra 10,000 customers going off supply and saved over 30,000 hours of no-supply. This is over and above the hundreds of thousands of power supply interruptions and hours off supply that our equipment was already avoiding for customers every year.

ED2 will add an extra layer of complexity for DNOs, with even steeper targets and increasing demand and reliance on electricity networks. To ensure we support our clients through these challenges and help them embrace the opportunities of net zero, we are investing significantly in our Sapient software and service offering. Going beyond fault location and management support, Sapient will be the most advanced predictive and analytical solution for the LV market, covering prediction and classification of developing faults, monitoring of load and assessment of cable health.

By putting customer performance at the centre of what we do, we’re delivering real benefits for DNOs and end-customers, with lower prices and better-performing networks – making our job as a partner so worthwhile.

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