Grid Analytics Europe 2018 to help utilities companies better leverage data

07 June 2018

In September the 2018 edition of Grid Analytics Europe takes place in the UK. Nearly 150 professionals in the utility sector will convene in London for a review of the latest big data management, analytics and visualisation approaches which will power the future of smart utilities.

The utilities sector is facing a number of key challenges over the coming period. The energy industry has already been undergoing a major overhaul in terms of realigning from its dependence on non-renewables, but in order to best manage the improved efficiency required to make renewables work while demand for energy continues to rise, companies have been prompted to engage in the utilisation of AI technologies.

Artificial Intelligence is widely billed to change the way many industries create and deliver their products and services in the future, and energy provision is one of them. AI is expected to reap efficiency gains of a fifth in utilities within five years, yet less than a quarter of the industry reportedly have a plan to harness the technology.

Grid Analytics Europe 2018 to help utilities companies better leverage data

The fourth annual Grid Analytics Europe 2018 conference will draw together top talent from the big data industry for an intensive three day event in the UK’s capital city. Speakers will share technical strategies for migrating toward a more data-driven organisation, leveraging new and existing data sources to drive use-case expansion. Additionally, the impact of emerging technologies such as Machine Learning, AI, Blockchain and Cloud will be considered in the context of next generation big data capabilities.

The line-up of experts includes host of well-known names in the utilities industry. Among the speakers are Luca Grella, Innovation Workstream Lead for UK Power Networks, Samuel Young, Analytics Development Leader at National Grid and Bas van Dorst, Principal Solution Specialist, Data & Artificial Intelligence with Microsoft Advanced Analytics, and Dieter Vonken, Manager, Asset Management Excellence & Data Analytics at Big Four firm Deloitte. Alongside an extensive case-study programme, the event will also feature a 2-hour Cloud tutorial, a technology innovation panel discussion, a series of intimate end-user roundtables, a live demo lab of the latest systems and solutions, and an evening networking reception open to all participants.

Mandana White, Director at Phoenix Forums, the organisation behind the event, said, “Since the original launch of this event in 2013 we have mapped utilities’ progress with big data and recognise that many are now beyond the ‘enthusiastic beginner’ stage and have entered the ‘disillusioned learner’ phase of their big data implementation. Our intention is to provide a programme of inspiration, information and insights, that will help propel utility big data projects into ‘peak performance’.”


How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.