The Power of Technology and Collaboration: Keeping Manufacturing Competitive

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Technology continues to drive the manufacturing industry forward at an incredible rate. This can make it extremely difficult for manufacturers to remain competitive, especially if they’re using legacy equipment. However, this does not need to be the case. Businesses can upgrade their facilities in order to remain agile and on the cutting-edge. Fortum, a Scandinavian power company is a perfect example of turning century-old processes into a modern and efficient operation.

Fortum is the top producer of certified renewable electricity in Finland and Sweden. Most of the power generated comes from 169 hydroelectric plants and some of these are over a century old. Using fast-flowing water to spin turbines and generate power, the concept hasn’t changed but most everything else has, and in a dramatic way. The only way Fortum is able to remain competitive in the modern energy industry is through digitizing the outdated plants to provide new insights, offer predictive analytics and improve maintenance. All of this is an example of how to keep aging equipment and processes on the cutting-edge.

In order to accomplish this goal, Fortum couldn’t take on the initiative by themselves. Instead, they needed to find a partner that was knowledgeable about hydroelectric turbines as well as big data. Collaboration played a key role in modernizing their renewable energy operations and maintaining their position as an industry leader. GE was the perfect fit, bringing with them the knowledge and expertise in both Big Data and hydroelectric turbines. They invited GE to take a look at the data from a malfunctioning turbine and additional information about vibration, temperature, output and efficiency.

“We found the issue, which was a vibration that happens when you change from a low load to a high load” Check Haris, Digital Sales Leader at GE Renewable Energy stated. He continued, “We suggested that they use another type of runner or turbine blade. They hadn’t considered that solution.”

With this change along with GE implementing edge analytics at the cloud level for Fortum’s 127-megawatt Höljes station, GE estimates that the edge and cloud together should increase revenues by 3%. This entire endeavor is a perfect example of how to keep facilities updated and efficient well into the future. Even manufacturing facilities that are close to a century old can remain competitive in this increasingly complex business landscape utilizing modern technology and collaboration.

Sources:
https://www.manufacturing.net/news/2017/10/how-latest-technology-transforming-oldest-green-power-plants

https://www.ge.com/reports/latest-technology-transforming-oldest-green-power-plants/