Digital transformation for asset health solutions – interview with Dan Roth, Dynamic Ratings, at IEEE T&D 2022
USA, New Orleans: Transformers Magazine brings an interview with Dan Roth of Dynamic Ratings, from IEEE PES T&D Conference and Exposition which took place in New Orleans 25-28 April 2022.
Hello Mr. Roth, would you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi, my name is Dan Roth, I am the Sales and Marketing Director at Dynamic Ratings. In my current role I have a responsibility for most of the commercial efforts in the organization – defining our sales channels, reaching out to new customers, and developing marketing collateral to get the information about our products out to the industry.
What has been your view of the first major show after a couple of years of pandemic? What is your view of this location, people and visitors, and of the venue?
We have done a few regional shows over the last year. The attendants at most of those shows have been pretty spotty. What we are seeing at this show is a much greater energy, so it is great to see everyone coming back out and traveling to the show. We have had a lot of really interesting discussions with customers. I think everyone is extremely excited to be able to have face-to-face discussions again and get their hands on the products. With a web meeting, sometimes it is difficult to have that personal connection and it is also difficult for them to see the product and interact with it on a physical level as opposed to just looking at your content over a website or digital content. So, I think that has been one of the more beneficial things about getting everyone together at IEEE this year.
Using this venue and this opportunity, is there any product you are showcasing that you want the readers to know about, whether it is new or something that you are promoting heavily at this show?
Yes, we have two new things at the show. One of the products has been more recently introduced, and it has been immensely popular. A lot of customers have stopped by, utilities, but also nine utility customers in the power industry have come by to look at our circuit breaker monitoring system, the Breaker Performance Monitor (BPM). Their interest level in that product is that they have already been doing transformer monitoring, which is our core competency as a company (we started as a transformer asset management company) but now they are looking to expand their asset management beyond the transformer. One of the areas that they are targeting is their high-voltage circuit breakers and their switchgear lineups. So, this product has been extremely popular and there has been a lot of interest around it. The product that we have introduced at the show is our ConnectGrid IoT platform, and that really aligns with what is the digital transformation in the industry. So, another area of interest utilities have is expanding the asset management down to the distribution system. That includes their distribution transformers. Achieving that scalability from a financial perspective is difficult for utilities because there is such a high volume of transformers, and assets themselves are not that expensive. The ConnectGrid platform is unique, and it allows you to achieve that scalability and get connectivity to a high percentage of your distribution transformers fleet. It also allows bringing back either the planning data, which would be load and voltage profile information, to do a better system planning, or they could do basic sensing on the transformer itself to improve their asset management.
With this, I guess there is a new philosophy of trying to democratize the use of technostics into the assets. How do you see the market changing in terms of demand for these things right now or in any other way?
I think the challenge that utilities have is that they need to become more efficient, and they need to use technology to drive that efficiency. That is really what the digital transformation trends is about. It is not only in the utility industry, but you also see it outside of the bulk power industry and we are now adapting it. Not all of this is new, some of this has started back probably in 2008 when the smart grid was the big buzzword at the show. It has continued to evolve and now we are seeing it and understanding the scalability behind it. It is not just getting connectivity through skid assets to substations but how we do this in a lighter, more agile way that is scalable. It needs to fully integrate with their operational practices. I think one of the great lessons learned from the smart grid project is that if you do a pilot project and you do not fully integrate it in into the business operations, it will tend to stall out and it will not be fully leveraged by the rest of the business. It will not carry on through their normal business on day-to-day activities.
One of the changes in philosophy now is that utilities understand this. They want to make sure the technologies they are investing in will fully integrate into their other enterprise software applications and also with their day-to-day operational practices. It is important for them that the line men and everyone else, other stakeholders in the company, are fully comfortable with it and know how to use it.
There are lot of vendors in the marketplace with somewhat similar solutions. How are you at Dynamic Ratings differentiating yourselves and using this trend to your advantage with the customers?
One of the things that differentiates Dynamic Ratings from other companies is the level of support and service that we offer. We have a live stream support, lifecycle methodology. We want to work closely with our customers from the beginning of the design phase of the project all the way through commissioning. I am providing support as they run into challenges. With the retiring workforce, reduction in people coming into the industry, some of that knowledge is leaving on the utility side, and they need to rely on vendors to help. As they have more turnover within utilities, they do not always understand the people working on those assignments, why certain decisions have been made. They do not understand why the utility does things the way it does. So, we can be that sounding board or that resource that they can use to do their jobs better and more efficiently. One of the things that we are trying to do with our platform is to be very purpose-built. We are not trying to be the IoT for everything that utility he wants to do. We really want to focus on our core competency and make sure they are developing a solution that attacks the problems they have and closely aligns with the other asset management tasks and agendas that they have with it on as a utility on the whole.
In facing the demand or the growth that you want to achieve, do you have any supply chain issues?
Dynamic Ratings has seen component shortages like most other companies in the industry. Our service levels and support have always been characteristics that set us apart from the competition. We have made significant inventory investments to make sure supply chain issues such as parts obsolescence and long lead times do not impact customer schedules. It is for this reason our customers continue to look at Dynamic Ratings as a trusted partner throughout the entire pandemic and global impacts it has created.
What are your plans for the near future and what do you see the company five to ten from now with the new landscape?
Our heritage is back again in high-voltage power transformer asset management, and we are really trying to diversify as a company. We are trying to expand into circuit breaker monitoring, switchgear monitoring, to get out of that high-voltage substation and work closely with distribution companies. We are going to continue to push those boundaries and to look for areas to invest and grow as a company where we can add value as an asset management partner.