The EIC’s celebration of the best innovation in the utilities sector, The UK Energy Innovation Awards, returns in 2019. Awards are open for entries now.
NM Group won the EIC award for Best Electricity Network Improvement in 2017. Its Caydence® software has revolutionised the management of dispersed powerline infrastructure for network operators around the world.
“When the 2017 awards were accepting nominations, we were working on a number of major projects,” explains Tim Hustwayte, Senior Client Manager at NM Group.
“It was a big innovation for us, so entering the awards seemed like a great way to recognise the hard work of our staff.”
The hard work in question involved a new solution that was being rolled out to a number of power networks. In the UK this included UK Power Networks and Scottish and Southern Energy.
NM Group’s software visualised the 3D mapping of their entire distribution networks using photography and laser survey data. Users can zoom in on selected areas to view detailed information about each asset. This provides a number of efficiencies in asset management, assessing network condition, and – importantly – an enhanced solution for proactive vegetation management.
An Innovative Solution
The detailed view provided via Caydence empowers distribution network operators to make better decisions about the management and maintenance of their network.
“Utility companies have an issue with trees getting too close to their lines,” says Tim, “especially in storm and high wind conditions. Our winning solution enables them to understand where this risk occurs from the office environment and proactively trim vegetation to a safe distance.”
The data in the Caydence solution enables users to:
· Target which locations have an immediate risk from tree damage
· Assess risk in advance of high-wind events and proactively manage vegetation in advance
“This results in fewer treefalls and fewer customer outages,” says Tim.
Entering the Award
The solution is capable of handling huge data sets – vital when mapping such detailed data for networks that extend over 50,000 km2. The combination of technologies was such that the NM Group team felt it was a true innovation worthy of entering into the UK Energy Innovation Awards.
The judges agreed. They praised the solution as “an innovative idea with a unique technique”. Importantly, they also felt the innovation could be easily deployed and rolled out. What’s more, the benefits were quantitively stated and well documented – demonstrating the clear commercial advantages for the network operator.
“We always want to deliver the best possible service to our clients,” says Tim. “Winning the award was fantastic independent recognition of that. And the win is one important way that we’re able to demonstrate our position as technology innovators.”
Since winning the award, NM Group has enjoyed a very positive response from its customers and other operators.
“Because of the award, we have had conversations we perhaps wouldn’t have had before. And the award win has been raised by clients – they want to know more about it.”
Thanks to the response to its 2017 success, NM Group is planning to enter the 2019 awards – and Tim encourages other companies to enter.
“We know that to succeed we need to continue to innovate; geo-spatial technology is constantly evolving, and clients’ challenges don’t stand still. This requires us to put a real effort into research and development. Winning an award like this helps us to demonstrate this hard work to our clients in an easily understandable way, its raises awareness about our solutions, and it has been a great reward to our staff for all their hard work.”
Tim’s tips for would-be innovators
It sounds like a cliché, but when it comes to innovation the most important thing is to understand the clients’ need. Talk to your clients. Get a real sense of what’s keeping them up at night. Then look at it in a different way: come at the problem sideways. This way, you can find a solution to solve their problem.
Tim’s tips for would-be award entrants
I would definitely say “go for it”. Think through your solution – especially from your customers’ point of view. It is crucial to be able to demonstrate you are solving a key customer challenge, then document that as well as you can. I know our team had a really good time at the awards too!
You can find out more about NM Group at https://nmgroup.com/en-gb or follow them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nmgroupinnovate