Case Stories

Predictive Maintenance Helps Elvia Modernize The Power Grid

The service team had just ok’d a circuit switcher for Elvia, formerly Hafslund Nett, one of Northern Europe’s largest electric power companies. Based on the information available, they determined the legacy system wasn’t in critical need of repair. After re-energizing it, the team got new information they couldn’t have predicted using traditional techniques.

The standard tools we have in our toolbox only measure the temperature at a single point in time. However, a new solution, supported by Disruptive Technologies’ smart sensors, continuously monitors conditions so the team can see unexpected changes.

- Åshild Vatne, advisor for Elvia’s smart grid initiative

Sensor data revealed temperature on the circuit breaker was increasing more than anticipated. As a result, the company was at risk for the breaker to fail, causing an outage or even a fire.

The remote monitoring system triggered an alert to the operations team. They immediately focused on the part of the equipment reporting the temperature spike and identified the root cause. Despite the fact that the breaker had passed the service check, the team decided to change the entire breaker based on this new knowledge. Most importantly, Elvia avoided the risk of a power outage or fire due to overheating.

Smart Sensors Accelerate Elvia’s Digital Strategy

Elvia sees a future in which all substations are digitalized. They’ve received support from CINELDI, one of Europe’s largest research centers for intelligent electricity distribution, to expand the use of sensor technology as part of their grid modernization efforts.

If we see an increase in temperature with no increase in load we can detect something may be wrong and we can go out and fix problems right away. We create a better customer experience and if we’re able to prevent an outage, that’s huge.

- Kjetil Nymoen, Solution Architect for IT strategies for Energy Technology at Elvia

Elvia has expanded from an initial roll-out of 20 Disruptive sensors to 2,000 planned to date, adding them to transformers and switches across 100+ substations. In addition to temperature sensing, the Elvia team is testing Disruptive sensors for a variety of use cases, including:

  • Leak detection sensors to warn of underground flooding and avoid pumping, which can be expensive and dangerous for workers
  • Proximity sensors to ensure doors stay closed and lower security risk
  • Proximity sensors on transformers indicate when they must be cleaned
The strategic focus on smart grid is bringing together all kinds of sensor data. To realize its potential, predictive maintenance requires trust in the data and a stable system that is up 24/7.

- Kjetil Nymoen, Solution Architect for IT strategies for Energy Technology at Elvia

Disruptive’s open API makes it possible for Elvia to integrate sensor data with ESRI’s ArcGIS mapping and analytics platform. Within ArcGIS, the Elvia team can view changes in context with other location-based information for a comprehensive picture of activity across the power grid. They can collaborate and share data across teams and with workers in the field.

According to Vatne, with the integrated system, “people don’t have to have 10 applications. They have one map and can visualize what’s going on right there and then.”

Early Sensor Adopters Are the Future of the Electric Power Industry

Today, this type of data-backed maintenance strategy is used only by about 5% of electric power companies, according to research from McKinsey & Company. First movers like Elvia are poised to realize massive cost savings and operational improvements, changing the financial picture in an industry accustomed to annual gains of only 1-2%.

The hope is that by employing predictive strategies like remote temperature sensing, “operators reduce their costs by 10% in medium-voltage distribution grids, 15% in high- and medium-voltage overhead lines and underground cables, and 20% in high and medium-voltage substations, while improving asset reliability,” McKinsey reports.

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