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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

A.I. Innovation Transforms Utility Management

In a remarkable triumph of technological innovation and digital transformation in the utilities sector, Aboitiz Data Innovation Pte. Ltd. (ADI), in collaboration with Aboitiz Power Corporation's distribution utilities, Davao Light and Power Co., Inc. (Davao Light), and Visayan Electric Company, Inc. (Visayan Electric), has been honored with the prestigious Philippines Technology Excellence Award for A.I. - Utilities at the Asian Technology Excellence Awards 2023 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Left to right: ADI COO for Power Luis F. Gonzalez, ADI Lead Solution Architect - Power Grid and Distribution Gratz Redoble, Davao Light Meter Shop Supervisor Mark Catalan, Visayan Electric President and COO Raul Lucero, Davao Light President and COO Rodger Velasco, and Asian Business Review Editor-in-Chief Tim Charlton, who presented the award.

The award recognizes their groundbreaking Project A.I. CU, which is set to revolutionize the way utilities manage their assets.

Aboitiz Power Corporation President and CEO, Emmanuel Rubio, expressed his enthusiasm for the award, stating, "This award demonstrates the data-driven innovations being applied in Aboitiz Power and highlights the growing synergies within the Aboitiz techglomerate, which in this case is between our distribution utilities and ADI. It also reaffirms Aboitiz Power's mission of 'Transforming Energy for a Better World' as it continues its digitalization and innovation initiative to ensure quality service."

In alignment with the Aboitiz Group's Great Transformation, Aboitiz Power is focusing its transformation efforts on decarbonization, digitalization, and expanding beyond its core business.

The company is steadfast in its goal to grow its renewable energy portfolio to at least 4,600 megawatts, representing 50% of its generation mix by the next decade. This move supports the Philippines’ transition towards a cleaner and more sustainable energy mix.

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I See You: The Birth of Project A.I. CU

Project A.I. CU, which stands for "I see you," was born as a homegrown idea at Davao Light. This innovative software harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to optically scan images of electrical installation components, particularly those mounted on electrical poles.

Its primary function is to check whether these components align with the utility's records. This revolutionary process eliminates the need for manual verification, offering a faster and more accurate alternative.

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After a series of successful pilot tests at Davao Light, the software demonstrated its prowess by identifying and tagging each asset with its individual and unique compatible unit (CU) number, a classification previously assigned manually. Each CU represents a grouping of electrical items within an asset, simplifying asset categorization.

This technological breakthrough streamlines asset verification, ensuring regulatory compliance, enhancing asset management, optimizing operational efficiency, and bolstering the trust that utility companies can deliver electricity at justified and cost-effective prices within their franchise areas.

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One of the most significant advantages of utilizing A.I. in this manner is the drastic reduction in the need for manpower and work hours.

Traditionally, trained engineers were dispatched to each electrical installation site to visually identify and verify each item. With Project A.I. CU, personnel can redirect their time and effort to other critical activities, increasing overall operational efficiency.

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From Idea to Reality

Mark Anthony Catalan, Davao Light Meter Shop Supervisor, shared his thoughts on the journey of Project A.I. CU, stating, "The inspiration for Project A.I. CU goes beyond streamlining asset verification. This initiative serves as a window into how we are leveraging artificial intelligence to transform our operations, making them more efficient and smarter."

The idea took shape in 2019 and was presented to Davao Light in 2020. Catalan was joined by a dedicated team of innovators, including Eric Camerino, Jeffrey Lingatong, Raquel Caro, Russel Bolivar, and Prince Yamyamin, who played pivotal roles in the development of Project A.I. CU, bringing the concept to life and exploring other potential A.I. applications, particularly in the areas of safety, audit, and maintenance.

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The team successfully completed an A.I. model for Project A.I. CU as a proof of concept before passing it over to ADI, the data science and A.I. arm of the Aboitiz Group.

The future holds exciting possibilities as ADI aims to refine and scale the project for full implementation at Visayan Electric and Davao Light, the second and third largest distribution utilities in the Philippines, respectively.

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A Game-Changer in Cost Efficiency

Once fully implemented, Project A.I. CU is projected to save both companies millions of pesos in annual operating costs. ADI also plans to evaluate its potential applicability in other Aboitiz Power distribution utilities, highlighting the immense value this innovation brings to the group.

The Asian Technology Excellence Awards, presented by Asian Business Review, a regional magazine serving Asia's dynamic business community, is a testament to the groundbreaking work undertaken by Aboitiz Power and ADI.

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It showcases the power of innovation and technological advancement in shaping the future of the utilities sector, emphasizing the crucial role these innovations play in advancing the industry.

As Aboitiz Power and its partners continue to lead the way in technological innovation, they are not only transforming their operations but also contributing to a brighter and more sustainable future for the Philippines and beyond. Project A.I. CU is a shining example of how artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the utilities industry, paving the way for a more efficient and sustainable energy future.

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