Case Study

Enabling the Future of Domestic Energy Distribution

Building advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) to unlock the potential of Smart Grids

Smart Grids are the future for domestic energy distribution, but implementing systems and solutions is a technical challenge. At the heart of every Smart Grid is advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) that delivers real-time information to energy companies and customers. Smart Grids enable more effective grid management and power distribution and will play a vital role in the transition to renewable power sources

The Challenge

A leading multi-utility company in Latin America was mandated to deploy AMI across its market. The energy operator requested BCG Platinion’s support to bridge the gap between existing operational technologies (OT) used to manage the grid and modern digital information technologies (IT) critical to Smart Grids.

The client’s existing cyber security, data, and delivery capabilities across the OT/IT Stack faced the industry typical challenges in terms of interoperability, and its IT/OT operating model was not convergent enough to meet the organizational and technical requirements demanded by the large-scale implementation of AMI.

Fundamentally, the system needed a coherent IT/OT convergence model and strategy to make AMI implementation possible.

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The Approach

The client challenged BCG Platinion to design a detailed AMI and Smart Grid strategy and interoperable architecture for the entire business based on industry standards. This encompassed all relevant aspects of an AMI strategy, including:

  • Identifying the most suitable uses cases for the architecture
  • Designing an interoperable architecture
  • Analyzing possible tech stack options
  • Highlighting potential cyber security risks
  • Recommending data governance procedures
  • Defining a target operating model and a deployment roadmap

Before specifying the system and its various components, we analyzed industry-leading Smart Grid systems and existing state-of-the-art solutions to identify best practices. Our expert analysts identified the major technological trends and IT/OT use cases influencing Smart Grid development. Detailed research, industry scanning, and evaluation enabled us to develop a solid platform for implementation and growth and a clear vision of how to approach the implementation and large-scale roll-out.

The development of the AMI architecture introduced two particular challenges. Firstly, our client wanted us to realize a Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) approach and to deliver SysML based architecture models as a basis for further development.

Secondly, the aim was to resolve the IT/OT Integration by integrating existing, TOGAF based enterprise architecture models with Smart Grid specific architecture frameworks.

We addressed the first challenge by making use of the “SGAM Toolbox” which is a particular modelling extension for developing SGAM based architectural models, developed by Salzburg University of Applied Sciences.

The second challenge required an alignment of the different concepts introduced by SGAM, TOGAF and the NIST Logical Reference Model (NIST LRM). To integrate this alignment within the modelling environment, BCG Platinion teamed up with Austrian based Successfactory Consulting Group and Salzburg University of Applied Sciences to realize the client-specific adaptations. That way we were able to provide a holistic architectural model that covers both business and technical aspects and guided the project from defining customer requirements to providing the client with domain-specific modeling language.

This enabled the development of a bespoke Smart Grid architecture that guided the project from defining customer requirements all the way through to specifying the essential technical components and protocols.

All stakeholders were involved in developing the architecture framework integral to the Smart Grid domain.

It allowed translation from business requirements and use case scenarios into technical architectures and implementation blueprints. The result of our work is an AMI strategy and system that is efficient, effective, and secure—protecting data while powering the grid.

The Impact

BCG Platinion developed an end-to-end solution for the customer. Before entering the build phase, we modeled the target AMI architecture design and roadmap within the client‘s existing Enterprise Architecture Management solution. Working with the client, we defined a suitable AMI technology stack.

We provided the strategy and design for the AMI system, enabling the client to install, implement and integrate the stack within their existing systems and models. Different components and configurations were tested in a sandbox approach and gradually prepared for testing at a larger scale. Following our plan helped the client maximize efficiency, minimize risks, and supercharge security.

Looking Into the Future

The new IT/TO architecture and governance smashes silos and modernizes the entire operating model. The new approach is making data sharing safer, simpler, and more secure than ever.

The new system opens new value pools and data monetization strategies. In addition, the new Smart Grid infrastructure and connected systems will deliver new and improved customer experiences.

BCG Platinion’s solution is future-proofed. The architecture framework developed in this case has proven to be a vital tool in coupling OT requirements and components with IT systems.

In addition, this framework opens a broad range of use cases for customers. The architecture framework we created is a valuable tool in building reliable and optimized IoT infrastructure weaving into the fabric of tomorrow’s energy and telecommunication systems and broader society.

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