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Osmose: The Face of Next-Gen Utility Services
Ben Butera, VP of Product and Information Management
The structural integrity and performance of transmission and distribution structures are critical to maintaining a reliable supply of power. However, with more than 125 million T&D structures operating in the U.S., utility companies struggle to systematically prioritize replacement CAPEX, and most importantly to determine the right level of expenditure on long-term maintenance programs. Whether the challenge lies in inspection, life extension, or rehabilitation of assets, Osmose has a legacy spanning across eight decades and is the one-stop shop for tomorrow’s intelligent utility. In line with the information age, the company deploys state-of-the-art software and analytics to deliver targeted services in wood pole inspection and treatment alongside assessment and remediation of steel assets. “Our aim is to help utilities build resilient and optimized infrastructure, which maximizes performance, reduces liability while saving cost,” states Ben Butera, VP of Product and Information Management, Osmose.
When it comes to service delivery, the company follows a cradle to grave approach and broadly covers consulting and analytics, inspection and life-extension, and engineering solutions. During the on-boarding stage, Osmose conducts a thorough statistical analysis of a client’s existing infrastructure and comes up with an optimized plan, keeping in mind the client’s asset management and budgetary requirements. Over 2,500 field staff oversee inspection, restoration, or upgrades of wood poles and steel structures. A team of corrosion, wood, and environmental technologists also focus on selecting appropriate coating and material type that guarantee a long life for a utility structure. Always a step ahead, Osmose even collaborates with two different universities to study the decay process in wood and develop environmentally-friendly wood preservatives.
Our aim is to help utilities build resilient and optimized infrastructure, which maximizes performance, reduces liability while saving cost
Underpinning their breadth of services is software and analytics solutions that optimize maintenance decisions. For example, the company’s O-Calc Pro, a structural analysis software, features advanced calculation tools that offer highly accurate pole loading analyses for joint use, equipment or line upgrades, and pole replacement. O-Calc Pro is a game changer in the industry as it empowers companies to redefine their risk analysis capability as well as the resiliency of their infrastructures. While there has been a significant increase in extreme weather since the start of the millennium, most utility companies manually analyze the strength of poles by engaging field surveyors. This causes a tremendous drain on budgets as well as field engineering resources. “What we built with O-Calc Pro is the ability to simulate models that enables utilities to simulate a structural analysis on millions of poles without going on-site,” says Butera.
Another main area that the company is currently focusing on is its data science suite of products called Osmolytics, used in predictive modeling, failure analysis, field corrosion assessment, and automation of maintenance programs. The company has a database with information on over 40 million poles and through machine learning has built predictive models which reveal key insights on asset lifecycle and ROI. By leveraging data every step of the way, Osmose is leaving behind traditional approaches where the focus was on finding problems and then coming up with a solution. “Preventative maintenance and proactive replacements allow us to stay ahead of the aging infrastructure challenge, which is critical to helping utility companies save valuable time and O&M money.”
In the days ahead, the company will continue to invest in analytics as one of the primary growth areas. They are even looking at expanding their expertise in underground concrete structures specifically for old cities where large-scale replacements are not feasible. The third area Osmose has its eyes on is to emerge as an outcomes-based business. “We not only want to undertake the governance of a program but also reduce risks on the procurement side. Ultimately, we want to be able to warranty the performance that a utility wants to achieve instead of just completing tasks,” ends Butera.
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