Key performance indicators (KPIs) can help managers and employees make critical decisions in a timely way, but in some industries, there's just no predicting where or when you might need the latest information. That's why KeySpan, the largest electricity provider in New York state, is using data visualization software from Transpara to distribute metrics to engineers using advanced mobile phones.
Transpara's Visual KPI 2.0 was a fit for the project because of the software's certified support for OSIsoft's PI system, a real-time performance management platform that gathers performance data from equipment in six KeySpan power plants. PI constantly monitors vibrations, fluid pressure, temperatures and other conditions that could indicate a problem. If, for example, oil in a turbine overheated, the hot fluid could damage bearings and take the machinery offline. This would force the utility to buy energy to keep up with demand, potentially cutting into profits.
Engineers can access PI anytime through PCs, but these employees are often onsite checking equipment and doing repairs. KeySpan wanted them to be able to use smartphones running Windows Mobile to view the vital data. That's where Visual KPI comes in. The software extracts data from the PI system and distributes KPIs and scorecards as an Excel spreadsheet. Information can be customized for each recipient; the user simply points the phone's browser to the appropriate URL. Because the Transpara software has good connectors to PI, the deployment took only a day, says John Ragone, automation manager for KeySpan's Office of Electric Generation. "It's about as simple as you can get," Ragone says. "It took us longer to get the purchasing in place than to launch the actual project."
The software license and deployment cost less than $30,000 and it easily paid for itself; taking a turbine offline for repair costs KeySpan hundreds of thousands of dollars a day. --Antone Gonsalves