Effective maintenance with Fingrid

Fingrid power grid in sunrise

Challenge

Gaining access on asset condition

Finland’s transmission system operator, Fingrid, wanted to get more knowledge and access to the condition of different assets. This change required new measurement methods and practices in maintenance.

Maintenance in remote power grids can be expensive and time consuming. In addition, shutdowns caused by broken assets can cost a lot of money and, in some cases, result in power distribution interruptions.

Fingrid power grid during winter

Approach

Haltian chosen as partner after winning an innovation challenge

In 2018, Fingrid held several innovation challenges together with innovation consulting company, Spinverse, to find the best partners for industrial digitalization. Haltian won one of these challenges in Spring 2018 and the project started with a pilot study based on Thingsee ENVIRONMENT sensor technology. It was clear from the start that the sensors needed to operate in harsh conditions with high voltages and cold temperatures.

A parallel path was also launched to verify whether already existing Haltian Thingsee ENVIRONMENT sensor technology could be used for control building monitoring. The solution included in the first stage temperature and humidity measurements of the control building rooms. Need for water leakage detection was also pointed and prototype solution for that use case was developed and tested.

Fingrid power grid during summer

Results

Creation of multipurpose sensor for harsh conditions

This was the starting point for Thingsee ENVIRONMENT RUGGED – a wireless IoT sensor that can be used to measure environmental conditions or monitor machine usage in harsh environments, such as factories, industries or outdoors. At Fingrid, ENVIRONMENT RUGGED is under evaluation to measure temperatures in high-voltage components. From this data, the components could be changed or maintained before they break. Rising temperatures mean increasing electrical resistance caused by, for example, dirt or corrosion.

In addition, Thingsee sensors are used to monitor temperature, humidity and water leakages in control building rooms.

Fingrid red logo on white background

Fingrid is Finland’s transmission system operator. They secure reliable electricity for their customers and society and shape the clean, market-oriented power system of the future. Electricity is transmitted through substations and power grid lines. From asset management perspective, Fingrid’s task is to secure that the critical grid components serve in proper condition 24/7.

We asked Fingrid’s IoT-project Manager, Tuomas Laitinen, and Haltian Director of Smart Production Solutions, Pertti Kujala, about the co-operation of Fingrid and Haltian. Here’s what they told about the ongoing project of efficient maintenance in Finnish power grids.

Transition in industrial maintenance models

According to Laitinen, maintenance is moving towards condition and risk based maintenance model, where the objective is to ensure high operational reliability, more efficient usability of the power grid, and optimal allocation of the maintenance work. This transition led Fingrid to have several innovation challenges, where different companies got to showcase their digitalization solutions.

“Due to change into condition based asset management the need for better visibility, for assets increases. In thermography analysis use case the changes within substation and within one bay can be however notable, so the traditional camera inspections once in a year can result in only limited information of the assets’ condition.”

Tuomas Laitinen, Project Manager, IoT, Fingrid

Haltian’s sensor based IoT solutions enable this kind of predictive maintenance where problems can be prevented before they happen. Pertti Kujala comments that “Fingrid’s case is a great example of organizations finding digital solutions to develop their operations and maintenance.”

Haltian’s solution makes constant, practically real-time monitoring possible, remotely. Haltian sensors use very little power, so their batteries last for years. This, in consequence, means very little maintenance for the sensors themselves.

Thingsee ENVIRONMENT RUGGED Iot device for remote condition monitoring
Thingsee ENVIRONMENT RUGGED is a multipurpose sensor for harsh conditions

Co-operation with Haltian

Co-operation between Fingrid and Haltian started with pilots that were meant to discover the best possible solutions for Fingrid’s use case. Laitinen comments that “Haltian’s approach for this was positive and solution oriented in general which created good starting point for the pilot to succeed.”

Haltian is thorough in its development and submitted the prototype for temperature simulation calculations. This process included, for example, temperature simulation calculations and lots of testing in the real network environment.

Crossing over challenges and learning something new

Laitinen points out that learnings have been made with each development step. These learnings have then made way for next phases in the project that has gone forward in an agile manner.

“In the innovation challenges, we have proceeded into a bit new area from the perspective of somehow conservative industry. The results from the IoT-challenges have been merely positive. In general we have learned more agile way of seeking development.”

Tuomas Laitinen, Project Manager, IoT, Fingrid

Like in any innovative project, both parties agree that close co-operation with open communication is the key to success. According to Laitinen, both parties need to be very trusted, open and persistent. You also need to accept the possible obstacles as learning points in the development path.

In Fingrid’s case, both parties were eager to solve the challenges the came with creating something new.

The future holds a lot more results on the Fingrid case as the solution continues to develop.

“In addition for pointed use cases there could be possibilities to use the same sensor as well for monitoring of the specific assets vibration and also humidity in other use case for air ventilation system. These are also under further studies.”

Tuomas Laitinen, Project Manager, IoT, Fingrid

Secure and reliable IoT data for better maintenance

Haltian Thingsee enables large scale IoT solutions with Wirepas Mesh network running between the devices.

Every sensor is specified according to its location. This way the client can see from which asset and where the data is coming from.

All the sensors are connected to a Thingsee GATEWAY that sends data to Thingsee operations cloud. From there, the data goes to the clients own system for their own analysis.

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