The Zeche Zollverein Coal Mine in Essen provided a historic backdrop on September 27th for AUCOTEC’s fifth Technology Day, which focused this time on power grids. The decommissioned mine and the view of the surrounding countryside, instead of the smoking chimneys that dominated the Ruhr area in the 1960s, symbolically bore witness to the massive changes that are now also posing enormous challenges for grid builders and operators.
“Taking advantage of opportunities instead of fighting change”
Key speaker Dr Thies Clausen, energy industry expert with the change management experts of the Berlin-based communication agency Johanssen & Kretschmer, stressed: “The energy industry is changing in a disruptive manner. The innovative force of this change corresponds approximately to the changes induced by printing and the steam engine – combined!” This is the “Decade of Grids” in his opinion. There was also a need to link gas, water and, if required, new sectors in addition to electricity. This requires immense information processing in real time. In a nod to California’s Silicon Valley, however, Dr Clausen also spoke about Germany’s major opportunity to become “EnerValley”. His appeal to the guests: “Companies must seize opportunities instead of fighting change. Any company that does not adapt will go to the wall!”
The participants of the Technology Day are already in the throes of change. Presentations on practical examples from SAG, TransnetBW and TenneT impressively demonstrated how the digital data model of a plant results in a significant saving of time, while improving the data quality and its reliability at the same time. These factors are essential for them because time constraints and project volumes have vastly increased.
TenneT’s figures could hardly be more impressive. The mere use of AUCOTEC’s system Engineering Base (EB) yielded the grid operators a 20% saving in workflow through its functional orientation, among other things. TenneT referred to EB’s Advanced Typical Manager as an additional turbo. This reduced the number of project templates and typicals from 30,000 to less than 10,000 sheets. In addition, AUCOTEC Product Manager Michaela Ott reported a 75% saving of time during the configuration and creation of the wiring manual for a substation. This was expressly confirmed by the TenneT engineers who were present. Since some people may not have heard the “at least” that was added, it should be mentioned here again.
New lines of business
For SAG CeGit, EB’s optimized data storage was more of a deciding factor in its use because digitization and exploding volumes of data required new methods, explained SAG’s software expert Dr David Echternacht. SAG understood the challenges for operators and provides process analysis and advice with its new “Asset Master” in order to reduce maintenance costs. Furthermore, EB is also recommended because its openness and database-driven nature enable operators to significantly reduce data redundancy and structure plants more efficiently, while complying with all relevant standards.
Saving even more in the tendering stage
Other experiences were illustrated by the evaluation report on the grid operator TransnetBW, which was won over by EB’s process optimization and savings potential with the help of a feasibility study called “Proof of Concept”. The mutual trust and openness based on it, which link both companies, are crucial to the validity of the analysis according to Gerd Obenhack- Rehberger from AUCOTEC. Transnet was surprised by the result: The engineering itself is not at the heart of the savings, but rather the tendering and preliminary planning phases with their as yet immensely time-consuming comparison of supplier data, which is greatly simplified and accelerated with EB. We will report in due course on how practice becomes efficient from the study.