Communication is key

2017-10-30 - Electric Light & Power Magazine article by Emma Ritch, ABB Wireless - October 1, 2017
The industrial sector is becoming a vital proving ground for the many benefits promised by the Internet of Things (IoT). Utilities are deploying thousands of new intelligent endpoints to support a growing list of applications.

Limitations in many communication networks, however, are preventing utilities from garnering the greatest benefits of smart grid technologies. Still too many utility projects use a dedicated communication network for a single application or territory. This results in missed opportunities for cost savings to leverage common infrastructure. It also causes increased burdens on the network operators and IT professionals tasked with keeping the networks available and secure.

Utilities can unlock massive business value by integrating IT and OT teams. The solution to gaining the full benefits from smart grid is long-term planning for the communication infrastructure to support today's applications today and those that will come over the next 20 years. The most cost-effective approach to meeting variations in network capacity, latency and resiliency is to enable interoperability by leveraging multiple types of communication technologies, distributed intelligence and industry standards.

Communication is the key enabler for the digital utility transformation. Industrial-grade, multi-application networks provide the best return on smart grid investment. As utilities look to do more by deploying larger numbers of devices and collecting new data points, they are learning from early adopters and demanding more from their communication networks.

Following are five trends shaping the types of communication solutions that utilities are choosing today:

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