Expert Q&A: Power transmission and distribution with Bridget Bray

Expert Q&A: Power transmission and distribution with Bridget Bray

Your role title here is “Manager Market Strategy, Partnerships and Business Development Power”. That’s quite a mouthful. What do you actually do?

It certainly is, I even forget all the words sometimes! I work predominately in the Power industry, bringing together Geomatic Technologies SME’s and products, with our clients to implement solutions to address their needs – mainly around reducing risk, saving money, improving safety and leveraging technology.

As our customers work in strictly regulated environments another big part of my role is ensuring we are working together with any other appropriate product or service providers to achieve the best outcome for our customers.

So you work with a lot of Australia’s power transmission and distribution organisations. Australia is a such a large and diverse country. Do these companies have similar challenges or does it change from place to place?

I’ve worked in the Utility industry for over 10 years. In recent years the most common challenges relate to; evolving technology, cost pressures, and changes in ownership models.

I’ve seen a number of changes in the industry all presenting their own challenges and opportunities. Being regulated businesses supplying essential services, the challenges across the various networks are similar, although the magnitude, impact and solutions to address these differ slightly. Safety, reliability, risk management, security, customer service and controlling costs are always top priorities across the industry.

We work with networks covering vast areas, both urban and remote. Some of these remote areas have little or no mobile coverage and are difficult to access which presents a unique range of challenges. Vegetation Management, for example, is quite different in a densely populated city environment compared to a remote, sparsely populated area.

Geomatic Technologies recently hosted a successful “Solutions Forum” for which you were the key architect. Having so many senior leaders of an industry in a room must have been an interesting dynamic. How did you make that happen?

It’s not often that you can get such a high-profile group of Executive and General Managers from across the industry, almost friendly competitors in some regard, coming together to share learnings, ideas and discuss challenges. It was great to have representatives from a number of different states present and contribute to the discussions. The forum was oversubscribed in fact, which is a testament to the relationships and contribution Geomatic Technologies has made to the industry over our 15+ year existence.

We discussed Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence as part of the program, things that were until recently considered futuristic, now they’re actually happening. It was amazing to see how progressive our clients are in exploring the technologies in this area and contributing to Geomatic Technologies work in this space. There is a real appreciation that we are on the cusp of something that could dramatically change the way Utility businesses proactively plan, manage and maintain their networks. Pretty exciting times.

I guess having AFL star Bob Murphy in the room didn’t hurt either?

I know! I didn’t even get to grab a photo with him. Next time Bob! We kept Bob up our sleeve as a surprise guest, it was great to have him join us and break up all the Utility talk with a completely different topic. Our clients are constantly juggling the various pressures of running critical networks, so having a few inspirational words and a different perspective, from the Captain of a Premiership team, really set the scene for a great afternoon.

The energy market in Australia has received a lot of attention in the media recently. We’ve had the Finkel Review as well as numerous discussions about pricing, reliability, renewables, storage and the role of government. What do you see as the biggest pressures on Electricity companies around the country?

The supply/demand and use of energy, combined with the technological innovations for smarter and more accessible uses and sources of energy, is changing the way the ‘traditional’ power generation, distribution and industry regulation operates. Typically the supply of energy has been one-way, now with the increase in renewable and alternative sources and new uses of energy e.g. rooftop solar PV systems, battery storage, electric vehicles and other technologies, customers are more informed, and even more empowered to make decisions with how they source and use energy.

Utilities and the industry need to change, become more agile, customer-centric organisations, and be equipped with accurate, up to date information. This is what will help them make real-time decisions about how their business is operating, how their customers are behaving, what their customers are wanting, how power is delivered and consumed, and how risk is being managed.

As a progressive industry specialist with rich geospatial and power expertise, Geomatic Technologies is well placed to assist on all these fronts.