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Sentient Energy makes Power Delivery Safe, Reliable, and Solar Ready

Quick Facts

Company

Sentient Energy
www.sentientenergy.com

Customer Profile

Sentient Energy makes power delivery safe, reliable and solar ready. The California-based company provides the industry’s only Grid Analytics System that covers the entire distribution network with quickly deployable intelligent sensors that identify and analyze potential faults and other grid events. Sentient offers the largest mesh network line sensor deployments in North America.

Objectives

Expand the grid monitoring capability by adding cellular and hybrid mesh networks to quickly and easily deploy solutions with multiple carriers across the globe

Results
  • Added cellular solution enables Sentient to increase customer base in regions where mesh infrastructure is not as developed or is underutilized 
  • Single SIM solution enables Sentient to simplify subscription models and provide greater device uptime with multi-operator coverage on a single card
  • Sentient’s safe, reliable, and solar ready grid analytics system reduces the cost and inconvenience to consumers by detecting issues in the power grid
Sierra Wireless Products & Services
  • Sierra Wireless® MC Series standards-based LTE modules,
  • Smart SIM, Connectivity Services offer an IoT solution across global networks, superior data service quality, and resilience to outages

Challenge

Many utilities still run substations, reclosers and other critical assets and loads on autopilot, as remote monitoring has traditionally been too costly and laborious to implement. Sentient’s Grid Analytics System was developed to offer a cost-effective solution that can be deployed and deliver results within hours. 

“When utilities don’t monitor their grid, they are flying blind,” explained Samir Badia, Program Manager at Sentient. “If a sudden surge occurs, for instance from a lightning strike, detection and restoration must be done manually, which is very labor and time intensive. The utility will spend a great deal of time just locating the outage, whereas a remote monitoring solution can provide the outage location in real-time, as well as additional information that will enable the utility to dispatch the correct equipment for quick service restoration.”

Grid monitoring using Sentient’s MM3 Intelligent sensor and Ample Analytics Suite offers utilities the ability to identify and analyze potential faults and other grid events by monitoring information such as the load (or current) on wires and temperature, as well as by providing GPS capabilities to pinpoint fault location. In addition, wave form data is captured for analytics that assist with planning and maintenance.

Utilities can use multiple communication technologies to monitor their infrastructure in different regions. In some areas, utilities rely heavily on mesh networks, while in other areas they prefer cellular for communication.

“Utilities is North America have heavily invested in mesh, but cellular is more accepted globally,” continued Samir Badia.

Cellular communication offers the advantages with higher bandwidth and faster throughput as compared to mesh. In addition, cellular carriers offer network management, making cellular solutions faster to plan and implement, while mesh networks require management by the utility itself or a third-party vendor.

“Sentient was looking to provide a complete portfolio, so that our customers can implement the grid monitoring solution that works best for them,” said Badia. “We needed to add a cellular and hybrid mesh/cellular package so that our utility customers have a choice between technologies and can decide what works best in different service areas.”

The support and pricing provided by Sierra Wireless both contributed to our selection, but the main requirement to have one module that works across global cellular network technologies was the most critical factor in our decision.

Samir Badia
Program Manager, Sentient

Solution

Sentient, being a global company, wanted a cellular solution that would work no matter where in the world they deploy. Sierra Wireless uniquely provides modules, SIM cards and a remote provisioning platform that takes the risk out of implementing a multi-vendor eSIM solution. 
Sierra Wireless MC Series Embedded Modules
After evaluating multiple embedded modules for their cellular offering, Sentient selected the Sierra Wireless MC Series standards-based LTE module.  “The support and pricing provided by Sierra Wireless both contributed to our selection, but the main requirement to have one module that works across global cellular network technologies was the most critical factor in our decision,” said Badia. “The MC Series works in both North American and international geographies, offering the most generous capabilities across networks and technologies, be it CDMA, GSM, 3G, 4G LTE. Another important factor that brought us to the decision was that Sierra Wireless’ MC Series module is capable of withstanding extreme temperatures between -40 to 85 degrees Celsius. This was critical for us, as our products are being used on high power lines in different parts of the world.“ Sentient Energy’s complete Grid Analytics System consists of intelligent line sensors on wire, distributed apps, mesh and/or cellular communications and the Ample Analytics suite, a management portal that can be connected to the cloud or deployed on-premises as an edge computing solution behind a firewall. Sentient’s flagship, the MM3™, is an intelligent oscilloscope with high performance sensors featuring substation-class measurement, computing and processing capabilities. Much like modern smartphones, Sentient MM3s can accept new apps downloaded over-the-air and be configured to meet the utility’s evolving needs. MM3s locally capture and process detailed data at many points along the network and communicate specific alerts and analyses to SCADA or Ample™ Analytics modules for feeder or system wide studies. This decentralized approach maximizes the amount of information gathered in the field while minimizing the amount of data transmitted.
Sierra Wireless Smart SIM
Sentient’s grid monitoring system is equipped with a Sierra Wireless SMART SIM that works with most operators in a region, anywhere in the world, and uses a patented smart steering technology to connect dynamically to the best carrier network when a data-service failure is detected. Sentient has significantly saved time in their deployment as they only need to work with Sierra Wireless for connecting their system. There’s no need to manage and negotiate multiple carrier agreements or integrating with multiple SIM management platforms. In addition, Sentient has simplified their inventory management as they have defined the Smart SIM’s electronic profile based on their own preference. This has allowed Sentient to only require one SIM for every deployment, regardless of the operating region.  “With the Sierra Wireless embedded modules and Smart SIM, we can deploy our cellular solution without making large changes, and we can deploy anywhere in world,” said Badia.

Results

In the United States alone, power outages are up 285 percent since 1984, the consequences of which are significant. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said power outages cost businesses as much as $150 billion a year; this loss doesn’t account for the incredible inconvenience to utility customers and the resulting customer dissatisfaction levels. 

Grid monitoring using Sentient’s MM3 Intelligent sensor and Ample Analytics Suite offers utilities an easily and quickly deployed solution that dramatically accelerates feeder fault isolation and restoration, helping utilities lower circuit patrol time and the total number of customer minutes interrupted. This results in significant reductions in the two critical measurements used by energy providers, system average interruption duration index (SAIDI) and system average interruption frequency index (SAIFI), both of which can be equated to a significant monetary loss if not kept to a minimum.

Currently, Sentient has 25,000 grid monitoring solutions deployed with well-known utility providers such as FPL, PG&E, SCE, Manitoba Hydro, KCPL and AEP. With the added benefit of cellular communication, new opportunities have opened with larger providers such as BC Hydro and Duke Energy, and enhanced partnerships with leading network providers Silver Spring Networks, Cisco, Landis+Gyr and AT&T. In addition, Sentient has been able to get traction internationally, where use of cellular by utilities is much more widespread than mesh technology.

When compared to mesh deployment, cellular deployment is much faster, as it typically requires just a couple of weeks to acquire the modules. Mesh requires more involvement because of the requirements for developing a network management process. “Sentient’s ability to offer a portfolio that includes both communications options, with maximum compatibility across cellular technologies, makes our solution that much more robust and relevant to a wider audience of utilities and energy solution providers,” said Badia.

Related Products

Tagged Industries
Smart Cities Utilities
Client

Sentient Energy

Location

NAM
Global

Markets

Smart Grid
Smart Cities
Utilities
Connectivity

Products & Service​

MC Series Module
Smart Connectivity

Contact Us

By checking this box, you consent to receive commercial electronic messages from Sierra Wireless, Inc. and Sierra Wireless group companies such as newsletters, event invitations, promotional and educational content, product updates, transaction-related emails, and customer service emails, in accordance with our privacy policy. We may be reached by email at connect@sierrawireless.com or by mail: contact us. You may withdraw your consent at any time.
By checking this box, you consent to receive commercial electronic messages from Sierra Wireless, Inc. and Sierra Wireless group of companies such as newsletters, event invitations, promotional and educational content, product updates, transaction-related emails, and customer service emails, in accordance with our privacy policy. We may be reached by email at connect@sierrawireless.com or by mail: contact us. You may withdraw your consent at any time.
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By checking this box, you consent to receive commercial electronic messages from Sierra Wireless, Inc. and Sierra Wireless group companies such as newsletters, event invitations, promotional and educational content, product updates, transaction-related emails, and customer service emails, in accordance with our privacy policy. We may be reached by email at connect@sierrawireless.com or by mail: contact us. You may withdraw your consent at any time.
By checking this box, you consent to receive commercial electronic messages from Sierra Wireless, Inc. and Sierra Wireless group of companies such as newsletters, event invitations, promotional and educational content, product updates, transaction-related emails, and customer service emails, in accordance with our privacy policy. We may be reached by email at connect@sierrawireless.com or by mail: contact us. You may withdraw your consent at any time.
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