The smart grid is truly getting smarter. For proof, take a look at the innovative smart grid products now hitting the market. Smart devices, like near-real-time granular control of the voltage and VARS on the secondary side of the electric distribution grid, are helping utilities save money and increase system reliability by improving voltage at the secondary level, reducing overall system demand at peak times. These types of innovations are pushing the industry from an era of smart grid adoption to an era of smart grid maturity. But there’s another movement happening that is supercharging the smart grid. That movement involves an innovation in services as much as an innovation in products.
“The smart grid has opened up a world of opportunities,” says Scott Ockerhausen, vice president of smart grid and metering at Anixter. “But with those opportunities comes increasing customer requirements and expectations. Today, customers prefer to buy more than just individual hardware and software components. They want to partner with a full turnkey solutions provider. This includes a daunting amount of hardware, software and services. What utilities sometimes lack is a way to effectively and reliably deploy and integrate all of the individual components to make up a high-performance smart grid system. They need the help of smart people and services, not just smart technology.”
According to Ockerhausen, utilities that choose to partner with a full turnkey smart grid systems provider can achieve several advantages:
Provide one point of contact for project accountability and overall project success. Instead of dealing with multiple hardware, software and service suppliers, the utility can work with one company to save time and money, and increase overall project satisfaction.
Service provider can continually monitor emerging technologies in order to provide leading smart grid solutions and expert technology evaluation and selection. This will ensure that the overall smart grid system made up of multiple hardware and software components will perform.
Improve overall procurement process, including ordering, monitoring, shipping and receiving and storage options. Having one company handle the entire procurement process will make certain that the project is delivered on time and on budget.
Provide labor and manage the installation process with advanced hardware and software tools. Installing the system correctly will increase system performance, reduce delays and increase safety and lower overall risk.
Overall project management and ongoing support. These systems can last 10-20 years and picking the right partner is critical to the overall success of the project.