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Electrical utilities increasingly turning to IoT adoption due to Covid-19

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IoT - Internet of Things

Covid-19 has accelerated the deployment of the Internet of Things within electrical utilities, according to new research by Inmarsat. 

The Internet of Things proved its value during the pandemic, with it ensuring business continuity for electrical utilities around the world. With this in mind, 84% of electrical utilities have now accelerated or intend to accelerate their deployment of industrial IoT devices. 

Respondents to the research include energy suppliers and energy distribution network operators, 80% of which have fully deployed at least one IoT project. Much of this installation work has taken place during the pandemic, with 42% having achieved this feat in the 12 month period from Q2 2020. 

Of course, some firms are still yet to go all-in, but even those who have admitted to not yet having deployed one IoT project are currently in the process of trialling the technology, or at least planning to deploy or trial it within the next two years. 

There’s a clear reason why industrial IoT has surged in popularity with electrical utilities, with the 48% of firms who have already accelerated its adoption being less likely to state that Covid-19 had negatively impacted their ability to operate when compared to their peers. This demonstrates a clear link between IoT and business continuity during the pandemic. 

Additionally, 48% of respondents in the sector also indicated that business and operational challenges related to Covid-19 have underlined the importance of the IoT. Clearly that is why in addition to the 48% who have already accelerated their IoT plans, 24% say they will accelerate their adoption of IoT over the next 12 months, while 12% will accelerate beyond the next 12 months. 

Commenting on this acceleration of IoT in the electrical utilities sector, Damian Lewis, Market Development at Inmarsat, commented, “As with all industries, Covid-19 has served to accelerate digital transformation and IoT adoption across the electrical utilities sector. Lockdowns due to the pandemic in 2020 caused electrical consumption in many parts of the world to drop by 20 per cent from 2019 levels before they came back to pre-Covid levels as societies opened up again. While residential energy demand increased, it did not counterbalance the drop in demand in factories, offices, and other commercial locations. This period was unexpected and unprecedented and has underlined to energy producers and distributors the importance of being able to effectively monitor and control their operations remotely and autonomously.”

Mike Carter, President of Inmarsat Enterprise, added, “The rapid increase in IoT deployments over the last few years highlights the considerable progress global industry has made to overcome some of the world’s most challenging forces. It is particularly interesting, though logical, that Covid-19 has further catalysed businesses to increase their reliance on Industry 4.0 technologies, and particularly the industrial Internet of Things, in order to maintain business continuity. Those businesses implementing IoT technologies ahead of their competition and across their value chains are those who stand to win in the long-term.

“While our findings point to IoT driving significant uplifts in efficiency, sustainability and safety across global supply chains, there are areas where organisations can make improvements to draw the optimum benefits from the technology. Connectivity, data management, skills shortages, security threats and investment levels remain challenges as the world’s production and supply chains become increasingly digitalised and intertwined.”

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