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KCI Technologies: Strengthening Utilities through Applied Innovation
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Rob Macoy, VP, Power Practice Regional Practice Leader
Today, with the evolution of technology bringing smart electrical equipment that monitors power consumption and cars that run on electricity, the emergence of innovative solutions is paving the way for a digital future in the power and utilities markets. Maryland-based KCI Technologies helps private organizations and government agencies by delivering technology-driven design, inspection, maintenance and construction services for the nation’s electric, gas, telecommunications and water/ wastewater infrastructure networks. “KCI leverages innovative strategies and develops practical and cost-effective solutions to address the challenges in the evolving utilities environment,” said Rob Macoy, VP, Power Practice, Regional Practice Leader at KCI.
A 100-percent employee-owned company, KCI creates a culture of cutting-edge solutions through their unique Innovation Incubator, which is an annual intra-organizational competition that allows employees to showcase their ideas for tech-based solutions. After evaluation by an internal committee, the company chooses three to five innovative ideas each year and then creates a budget to implement them. “We are continually exploring new concepts through the incubator and want our employees to be a part of how we help our clients with their needs,” says Ron Dove, Senior Project Manager, KCI. “Utility firms are seeking technological enhancements that will aid them in optimizing performance, validating the accuracy of as-built plans for their existing infrastructure, and preventing delays.”
Macoy highlights the significance of understanding complex infrastructure by referring to a recent incident when the inadvertent disconnection of a gas main from the pressure sensing line resulted in over-pressurization that led to multiple explosions and extensive property damage. Many utilities are working off of digitization of historical paper-map as-builts and incomplete field records, both of which are often out of date and can lead to significant issues with unknown infrastructure in place.
Following the incident, KCI assisted a client by locating and mapping their gas regulator stations. The entire mapping process involved numerous tech-based services including ground penetrating radar, LiDAR and 3-D modeling to help the client set up an effective asset management process for the future.
Ron Dove, Senior Project Manager
As a pilot through the Innovation Incubator, engineers used a Microsoft Holo lens to provide a comprehensive mixed reality model of the final as-built conditions. “By combining multiple technologies, we not only helped the client solve their initial problem, but also gathered the data to better locate and understand their assets,” states Macoy.
The firm is also exploring ‘digital twin’ technology and its capabilities to optimize operational performance, for predicted maintenance, and to ensure accurate as-builts. The approach strives to replicate existing infrastructure in a fully-operational computerized model. The goal is to coalesce data from multiple sources into a common platform to facilitate better data-driven decision-making. “By pulling operational SCADA analytics, pricing, maintenance work orders, and even weather data into one place, utilities may be able to automate and enhance existing forecasting methods and improve metrics and reporting capabilities,” says Dove. Integration will lead to workforce efficiency gains and ultimately allow for additional enhancements such as predictive maintenance.
Innovative, technology-based strategies like those described above have become a hallmark of the firm’s dedication to solving infrastructure challenges through time and cost efficiency. In addition to 3-D data collection and modeling, current initiatives also include comprehensive asset management and support for electric and autonomous vehicle infrastructure. “KCI is moving forward in tandem with advancements in technology to help clients overcome their present and future challenges,” concludes Macoy.
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