Analyzing Data to Improve Operational Readiness

Collection and analysis of data is key to improving efficiency in power plant operations and thus, maximizing profits. Power plant operators frequently record data on logs or round sheets; many of the instrumentation and control equipment suites have automatic data collection functions built into them. But what happens to this data once it is recorded? While the collection of data is important, analysis of that data is even more important. Without some sort of data analytics, the data collected is a meaningless collection of random numbers.

Data analysis is a process of inspecting, cleansing, transforming, and modeling data with the goal of discovering useful information, suggesting conclusions, and supporting decision-making. Data analysis has multiple facets and approaches, encompassing diverse techniques under a variety of names, in different business, science, and social science domains. More simply, data analysis is the process of turning DATA into usable INFORMATION.

How can you incorporate data analysis into power plant operations to improve operational readiness? This isn’t an easy question to answer. Data analysis can be an extremely detailed and complex process. Entire career fields and advanced degrees are available in Data Analysis and Data Science. Entire companies are built around data acquisition and analysis. One such company, Seeq, recently published an article in Power Magazine detailing how they can use data to improve operations.1

As with almost any process, the data analysis process starts with defining a goal. What do you want to accomplish as a result of the data analysis? Based on this goal, the process of power plant operations data analysis can be broken down into several segments:

  • Which data must be obtained?
  • How is that data going to be obtained?
  • What is the best way to format that data for analysis?
  • How is the data going to be analyzed and converted to information?
  • What is going to be done with that information?

Proper data analysis in the power generation industry is crucial to maintaining a competitive edge. One area where data analysis can be used to increase operational readiness is in predictive maintenance. Information gained through data analysis can be used to accurately calculate useful life of assets so that they may be depreciated appropriately. Predicting the future performance of in-service equipment also provides power plant operations the ability to identify patterns which can precede a failure. This could allow the facility to increase operational readiness (and revenue) by predicting and fixing equipment issues BEFORE they happen, rather than reacting to failures after the fact. This can reduce unscheduled outages, reduce inventory requirements, and allow for the optimization of resources such as maintenance personnel.

What is YOUR goal for using data to maximize operational readiness?

1Michael Risse. (March 01,2018,) “Using Data Analytics to Improve Operations and Maintenance”. Power Magazine.