AWS for Industries

Conducting real-time utility equipment thermal monitoring using AWS IoT services

Delta Thermal is an industrial Internet of Things (IoT) company focused on one thing: We keep stuff from blowing up. We do this by finding hotspots in equipment before it’s too late to fix them.

The hotspots we are focused on today are found in electricity transmission and distribution (T&D) equipment. In the electrical grid that delivers electricity from a power plant to an industrial consumer. There are many places we could help, but we focus on substations and downstream switchgear cabinets that distribute electricity directly to industrial consumers.

Delta Thermal’s ThermalSafe cameras offer an economical, secure, and scalable solution to detect maintenance issues with T&D gear in substations thus enabling reliability of systems for utilities and savings in replacement costs. Our Mosaic product extends this capability into the switchgear that is essential for delivering electricity to your facility. Mosaic is a small IoT device about the size of a hockey puck. It uses a small thermal camera to continuously collect heat data and then analyze that data in the AWS cloud. It’s called Mosaic because it enables using many small pictures to get the big picture.

Problem

T&D transformers and switchgear are expensive equipment deployed across the grid in all geographies,sometimes in remote areas making timely replacement after a failure challenging. High reliability of the electric grid is a necessity and, in most cases, a national or state-mandated requirement. Utilities must plan for equipment replacement and maintenance and in the absence of any warnings on equipment health, this becomes a difficult and expensive process. When utilities have advanced warnings on equipment failure they can send repair crews promptly or do an automated, intelligent failover to another asset. These actions result in higher grid reliability at a lower cost. This need will grow as renewables serve an increasing share of our energy requirements.

Solution

ThermalSafe, a thermal imaging camera, sends images to a server that analyzes the image to detect abnormal equipment function and notifies the utility or operator when such an abnormality is detected. The solution, though useful, was not scalable and as reliable as needed since it depended on decisions being made at the server and relied on a server which itself could fail. We also had a need to secure, manage, update, and maintain thermal cameras as they get deployed around the world. To meet these requirements Delta Thermal selected AWS IoT GreenGrass to re-engineer and re-architect our platform.

Architecture

The new ThermalSafe architecture includes a thermal camera that sends image data to an AWS IoT GreenGrass device that can process data locally and send data to AWS. The devices are managed using the AWS IoT Core service. This way Delta Thermal can deploy tens of thousands of devices and manage them from a single centralized management plane on the AWS Management Console. Thermal image data from the cameras is stored in Amazon S3 and Amazon DynamoDB and is further processed using AWS Lambda functions to make information available to end-users via an S3 based web application, mobile notifications, and email notification using AWS Simple Notification Service.

Result

The new AWS architecture provides a highly scalable platform on which we can launch as many cameras as we want. Using the AWS IoT architecture we’ve reduced our cost per camera and associated data and processing by 95%. PNM Resources is an energy holding company based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with 2019 consolidated operating revenues of $1.5 billion. PNM Resources has 2,811 megawatts of generation capacity and provides electricity to approximately 790,000 homes and businesses in New Mexico and Texas. PNM Resources currently uses ThermalSafe cameras to monitor its equipment and help ensure reliable delivery to customers.

What’s next?

Lower cost, highly scalable, and secure cameras become an option not just for transformers, bushings, arrestors and other substation assets, but for downstream switchgear equipment as well. This AWS-enabled extension into the next layer of grid protection is what allows Mosaic to meet utility customer requests to provide visibility to the many places outside the substation where “seeing” is not presently possible, especially when it comes to seeing the many preventable hotspots that operators deal with daily. Delta Thermal is extending this technology beyond the utility industry and is adapting it to meet US Department of Defense requirements.

Learn more

Serverless computing is increasing in popularity and is the first choice for many technology companies. It offers low cost, secure, highly available and resilient features that scale automatically and offer near zero operational burden on IT staff. Visit Delta Thermal or AWS Power and Utilities for more information.

Andrew Griffis, Ph.D.

Andrew Griffis, Ph.D.

Andrew is CEO Delta Thermal and a business technologist who has been growing businesses and offering help to customers for over 25 years. Products are most often imaging applications that automate business-critical knowledge acquisition. Direct experience spans multiple domains, including thermal infrared imaging, near infrared 2D/3D imaging, active electro-optical systems for 3D imaging, passive microwave imaging for geoscience, and handheld biometrics for fingerprint recognition. Experience in airborne and land based remote sensing led to the founding of Delta Thermal to automate thermographic measurement for industrial applications using long wave infrared and embedded system IIoT technologies. Delta Thermal was spun out of The Sensor Group LLC which continues to serve performance oriented LIDAR and infrared customer needs.

Ranjan Banerji

Ranjan Banerji

Ranjan Banerji is a Principal Partner Solutions Architect at AWS focused on the power and utilities vertical. Ranjan has been at AWS for 5 years, first on the department of defense (DoD) team helping the branches of the DoD migrate and/or build new systems on AWS ensuring security and compliance requirements and now supporting the power and utilities team. Ranjan's expertise ranges from server less architecture to security and compliance for regulated industries. Ranjan has over 25 years of experience building and designing systems for the DoD, federal agencies, energy, and financial industry.