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    Home » Services » Blog 1: Superhero Engineering Generation Manager

    Blog 1: Superhero Engineering Generation Manager

    An engineer is holding a laptop next to a powerline tower.

    Blog 1: Superhero Engineering Generation Manager

    Episode 1: Everyday Superheroes

    Stop me if you’ve heard this story before.

    It’s the story of a public utility responsible for providing electrical power to millions while navigating a rapidly changing industry.

    It’s the story of a company tasked with modernizing its technology ecosystem while attracting and training a changing workforce while also radically reducing emissions.

    Finally, it’s the story of a company on the verge of catastrophic disaster – if a few superheroes in their organization don’t stop it.

    It’s a tale as old as time, at least in the utility industry. Let’s look at the dangers these everyday superheroes were facing and the steps they took to protect millions of people.

    When Data Can Be Life or Death

    Viddaco* is a public utility with a mix of generating capacity. Notably, they have two older coal generating stations that are up for retirement in the next 10 years. The combined generating power across their various assets is responsible for providing reliable power to millions of households and businesses in the hottest part of the nation.

    Their leadership team takes their mission seriously. They know that with temperatures reaching a hundred degrees or higher in the middle of summer, a prolonged failure in any of the two older coal plants could put tens of thousands of households out of power for prolonged periods of time. The possibility of loss of life is very real.

    To ensure this never happens, engineering manager Bruce wants to fix a long list of problems. While equipment reliability is always high on the list, this year, the focus has shifted towards the digital side of the station. An independent study conducted with Kinsmen Group revealed that Viddaco lost 12% of its annual operations budget because of digital inefficiencies. Efficiencies like projects running over budget, difficulties in finding information for emergency repairs, prolonged planning, and inefficient scheduling processes because of information inaccuracy.

    With 10 years left on the clock, the company must keep costs down while the utility is diversifying into different power sources.

    The first problem on Bruce’s list is what he calls information chaos. The company is transitioning from a document-driven environment to a data-driven environment, but Viddaco’s 500,000 documents and drawings are trapped in disconnected systems, including printouts, handwritten papers, and files on engineers’ personal drives covering 5 decades of history.

    “Version control is a nightmare,” engineer Selina tells him. “It’s not just my team – the operations and maintenance teams are making mistakes too because they keep working off incorrect documents.”

    Bruce knows she’s correct; he’s seen it himself. “It’s partly a findability issue,” he says. “The information is hidden in different systems, and my team can spend days just finding the information they need. I heard maintenance workers say they have trouble finding the right documents for important pieces of equipment – such as safety valves for our boilers.”

    “Why can’t we just make all the right data and documents available to everyone? If we don’t figure this out soon, we could be looking at a catastrophe.”

    The conversation haunts Bruce that night. He can’t stop thinking about what-ifs–the station is already years past its expected lifespan. Equipment failure could happen at any minute. A failure that could cut off air conditioning for tens of thousands of residences and businesses in high summer.

    Viddaco has excellent reliability scores so far – but he knows that just one disaster could bring years of challenges with regulators, catastrophic costs, and severe damage to the company brand.

    Finding a New Superpower

    A fan of superhero movies, Bruce wishes he had a superpower to avert potential disaster. His leadership seems convinced that new technology is the answer, such as using simulation and digital twins to cut product design costs or using artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve data integrity. But while leveraging the next big thing sounds like the right answer, Bruce knows the real value comes from using these tools the right way, for the right reason.

    His initial exploration of them raises more questions. Which technology is best? Will it integrate with Viddaco’s current tech stack? Will the team know how to deploy it, integrate multiple systems, and maximize its value for real ROI?

    As Bruce sketches out his wish list, he knows he, Selina, and his colleagues need more than just new technology. They need support. They need strategy. They need an experienced helping hand, from the big picture vision to granular details. In short, Viddaco needs a partner to guide them through this digital transformation journey.

    From DATM to Data Transformation

    Bruce had already engaged with Kinsmen Group for an initial situational assessment to help leadership understand the company’s current state. Now he takes a deep look at Kinsmen Group’s Digital Asset Transformation Model (DATM) – and he realizes it’s the best bet for taking Viddaco into a more modernized and efficient future. Kinsmen consultants not only have expertise in both legacy and cutting-edge technologies, and deep experience in designing and implementing best-in-class solutions, but their skills in engineering, operations, and maintenance information can help drive the Viddaco vision.

    But Bruce knows the real definition of success will involve data control and contextualization. Data is the lifeblood of Viddaco operations – and he faces the seemingly impossible task of transformation without disruption.

    Sitting down with Kinsmen consultants, Bruce explains his anxiety about guaranteeing power continuity and his worry that a mistake could cause an equipment failure or worse. Together, they map out a vision that identifies the following requirements:

    • First and foremost, Viddaco needs to connect data and documents across different systems and facilities. By removing all information silos, the company can achieve a robust ecosystem of integrated mission critical systems – giving them complete visibility across the organization.
    • Bruce wants to ensure that every worker has accurate, current data at their fingertips. A field crew should be able to quickly access a work order; maintenance workers at a hydroelectric plant should be able to check an asset’s repair history.
    • Manually sifting through Viddaco’s mountains of data simply is not feasible, everyone agrees. DATM consultants help Bruce find ways to identify mission-critical data and integrate it into the new ecosystem so everyone can capitalize on those insights.
    • Especially challenging are the data dumps that plagued Bruce’s team. Typically, project and technical information arrive in batches, which forces the team to stop all workflows while they verify the data accuracy. The Kinsmen Group helps Bruce implement instead a continuous handover approach that shares information as approved or available for use.

    Faster than he expected, the engagement nets a big win for Bruce. By introducing new tools, retiring some older systems, and consolidating all of it into one ecosystem, all Viddaco teams now have access to one unified data source. All data and documents are now digitally connected, organized, and visible to everyone at any time.

    But Bruce doesn’t feel like a superhero just yet. He knows the changes must have a practical impact on their operations to achieve Viddaco’s goals and ensure power reliability. Is all his work really going to pay off? Tune in next time for more of our Superheroes in Manufacturing adventures to find out!