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Smart grid upgrades should be 'surgical'

By Max Burkhalter
February 24, 2014

When considering investing in serial to Ethernet converters and other smart grid upgrades, utilities also need to consider how they are going to perform these improvements. According to Electric Light & Power, such deployments should be make with "surgical" precision, carefully cutting out older systems and replacing them with improvements on a priority-based schedule. This way, firms will be able to improve the worst areas of their power grid first and maintain steady upgrade progression over time.

There are three key reasons the news source points out to take this approach to smart grid deployments. First, its helps firms keep up with technology refresh cycles, maintaining quality of time and investing in new tools as they make older ones obsolete. Second, it helps highlight the stark contrast between technological obsolescence and functional obsolescence, so that firms can be sure they are upgrading when it's necessary, and not jumping the gun and potentially wasting resources. Finally, surgical, targeted deployment of smart grid upgrades helps keep overall costs lower and optimizes the ROI of each change for the precise location it is made in.

The only challenge presented by this model is the continuous funding needed to maintain the cycle of improvement. However, once utilities get their initial upgrades underway - which will cost less than a total system overhaul - the resulting profits will help finance the next step, and so on. This allows companies to maintain steady growth and ensure they are making sound budgetary decisions.

According to the news source, one of the other major advantages of a targeted upgrade rollout is the opportunity to become an early adopter of new technologies. From improved media converters to the latest smart meter options, firms that target deployments will be able to make smaller improvements that are more cost efficient, enabling small-scale upgrades to the latest technology if so desired. This will balance cost versus any potential risk for an early adopted technology, and help ensure the functionality of these tools as well.

Overall, such an approach can drive revenues and profit as well as growth, as long as utilities plan their hardware rollout carefully and ensure they are investing the most critical systems first.

Perle offers a range of cost effective serial-to-Ethernet converters to help meet NERC-CIP compliance for the protection of critical cyberassets in substations. The IOLAN SDS HV/LDC Terminal Server is designed to meet harsh environments associated with Power Substations with attributes such as support for substation AC and DC voltage ranges, extended operating temperatures and meeting emission, immunity and safety approvals associated with substation IT equipment.


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