Vattenfall discovers new efficiencies in condition-based maintenance
- ChallengeAddress maintenance issues before they become costly problems
- SolutionsReal-time monitoring of more than 25 assets located across Sweden
- BenefitsA monitoring system that alerts employees via email and text message when potential issues arise
Vattenfall Hydro Power needed a way to reduce unplanned maintenance and allow its employees to troubleshoot issues promptly. Representing more than 50% of energy production in Sweden, Vattenfall Hydro Power is the backbone of Sweden’s energy system and the third-largest hydropower provider in Europe. The utility manages 55 large-scale power plants and about 50 smaller-scale plants in Sweden and Finland with an annual production of 30-35 terawatt-hours and a capacity of about 8,300 megawatts. The PI System allowed the company to do both and reduce its overall maintenance costs by 1.5% in the first year alone.
Ambitious goals, rapid implementation
In 2013, Vattenfall’s management recognized that the company had to change its approach to asset maintenance. “We’ve used condition-based monitoring for the last 15 to 20 years, but we’ve relied on an old system that uses static data based on periodic inspections, tests, and a data historian,” said Magnus Holmbom, maintenance-development engineer at Vattenfall. “We ended up using a lot of reactive maintenance practices. We needed to move forward in an instrumented way to real-time condition-based monitoring to improve our efficiency and reduce our cost of operations.”
Since the management team had some experience using the PI System, Vattenfall decided to evaluate whether it could replace the existing system, support this new maintenance strategy, and add value by integrating with other existing systems for the company’s planned Hydro Information Portal.
In April 2014, a six-person product team began setting up the PI System in a pilot project. “Our colleagues in Germany came up for a week to teach us how to set up the PI System, and it seemed very intuitive, so we adopted it very quickly,” Holmbom said. The pilot system was fully secured using SSL for web apps and firewalls. The team used PI ProcessBook, PI Manual Logger, and web clients in PI Coresight (now PI Vision). The PI System also worked on tablets via a remote logon solution with two-factor authentication.
“With the new system, we’re starting to perform trend analytics on about 25 basic conditions on each unit,” said Holmbom. “We’re using templates in Asset Framework to perform trend analysis of single values and then create new elements from those templates to capture a trend. It’s very easy to use.”
Reducing complexity, increasing value, and preparing for the future
Thanks to the PI System, the Vattenfall team can now perform on-demand trend analysis and give plant operators a quick overview of conditions across the system. The system uses a simple traffic light representation from five (green) to one (red). If a value goes above four, the system notifies users via email. “I can use Asset Framework to perform trend analysis by getting the highest value out of all of these readings and then do an analysis on that value instead of doing hundreds of calculations on each value inside a population,” said Holmbom.
The team can now to move into more failure-mode analysis and address an issue’s root cause before it escalates into a full-blown crisis. “We choose one subsystem, see what components are part of it, and we can see what kind of maintenance activities we have today,” said Holmbom. “We can find a failure before it occurs, and then we can have a planned maintenance activity instead of an unplanned one.”