Digital Engineering: Optimising grid performance and maintenance

Digital Engineering has developed technology that can precisely monitor the impact of weather on the condition of electricity network overhead lines, allowing network operators to invest in maintenance and upgrades in a far more efficient way.

Energy Systems Catapult supported Digital Engineering through our Energy Launchpad to help maximise its growth and impact on the energy system.

The Challenge

A wide range of environmental conditions, especially wind, are known to impact the condition of overhead lines (OHL), conductors and fittings, influencing both their asset life and the lines’ dynamic power rating.

Utility companies employ methods of classifying OHL in terms of wear, corrosion from pollution and other defects. Understanding the expected level of exposure, could allow asset owners to better optimise and were possible, defer reinforcement investments.

The Innovation

Digital Engineering uses weather modelling software and analysis to help electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure owners optimise their asset management strategies, increase system reliability and protect investment.

The technology can be applied to any OHL asset, anywhere on the planet, to quantify the effect of both wear from wind and corrosion on the expected defect rates of OHL assets, this data enables the optimisation of investment by providing a clearer understanding of asset deterioration over time.

At the time of engaging with us, Digital Engineering were at a proof-of-concept stage and accessed our support to develop their route to market, partnerships, and business model.

The Solution

Energy Systems Catapult is home to the Energy Launchpad that draws on Catapult capabilities and assets, along with those of our partners. The Energy Launchpad provides innovators with tailored incubation and acceleration support to selected SMEs to help address systemic barriers, de-risk innovation, help businesses scale and secure investment.

Energy Launchpad’s Accelerator programme provides scale-up support for selected high-impact potential SMEs. Support includes those areas outlined in incubation but in more depth, as well as help to access demonstration environments such as our Living Lab, engagement with potential corporate clients and investors, and links to international opportunities.

Energy Launchpad – Acclerator

Energy Systems Catapult and its partners delivered:

  • Digital Energy Fitness Assessment: To measure their digital maturity, benchmark their progress against the wider sector and make informed decisions about their future development plan. In preparation for scaling up, Digital Engineering were looking at migrating infrastructure to the cloud. The digital assessment we conducted helped to validate Digital Engineering’s digital infrastructure strategy so they could focus on the next stage with peace of mind.
  • Digital and Data: Providing recommendations on streamlining their front-end operations (e.g. recommendations to improve the dashboard) and backend operation (e.g. data management and storage options) to prepare them for scaling up in the future.
  • Partnerships: Introducing them to potential research and business partners (e.g. distribution network operators, sensors manufacturers etc.) through our network in the energy sector, to help develop a route to market partner strategy.
  • International Market Study: To understand the international landscape for its services, regulatory environment, potential supply chain partners and possible customers.
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Digital Engineering: Optimising grid performance and maintenance

Rob Sunderland, Founder & Managing Director, Digital Engineering, said:

"The fitness assessment was really useful because we were at a point where our digital infrastructure had grown with the business and we were like ‘well, do we need to do anything differently? Do we need to invest in that area?’. We decided that we were going to start migrating some of our applications to a public cloud server, and the digital assessment told us that seemed like a good idea, so we're carrying on with that.”

The Impact

Energy Systems Catapult’s support has helped Digital Engineering to:

  • Produce and test a prototype/demo version of their Asset Health software, as part of a collaborative NIA bid.
  • Develop a cloud-based data architecture enabling them to scale their data services while maintaining low data storage costs for their clients.
  • Gain new insights through conducting a UK and EU market study, identifying the regulatory environment, network owners and potential supply chain partners.

Energy Launchpad & International

Turning clean energy innovators into entrepreneurs. Propelling them step-by-step through technical validation towards commercial vindication.

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