CHROMA – Advanced powergrid maintenance

Umeå Institute of Design – Umeå UniversitySweden

Disrupting

Concept / Student

Team

Alexander Abele Maximilian Brück

Overview

The worldwide demand for energy is growing exponentially and is expected to triple until 2050. As a consequence power providers all over the world, have to constantly expand and update their electrical grids. At the same time, the grids get expanded, older parts of the networks suffer from aging. This results in higher failure rates, causing increased customer interruption rates and influences modern economy and society negatively.

“Grid Providers fighting in a two-front war to keep up with the growing demand while preserving the existing structures .”

The situation is challenging, especially for midsized companies. The constant need for the expansion demands high investments. At the same time maintenance, restoration and replacement cost are increasing, because old equipment needs more intensive care. But due to time-consuming and labor-intensive maintenance procedures, in relation to high-cost pressure, regular and efficient control cannot always be guaranteed. The cause: The chances for accurate problem diagnosis and early risk detection, which would significantly reduce restoration and replacement cost, are left out.

“Power Providers are in need of more efficient maintenance processes, to be able to overcome these challenges with their limited resources.”

But the conservative business lacks behind in adapting to modern processes and digital technology, which could help to optimize processes.
These circumstances become especially important in transformer maintenance: Power transformers are some of the components which are often in use for several decades and therefore need intensive care. They are the most expensive equipment in the grid and play an essential role in distributing energy to consumers. Transformers step down the voltage level from a transmission to a distribution and utilization level, so the energy becomes usable by consumers.

When segments suffer under disruptive challenges the only way to comply with must be disruptive as well. By logic, the only possibility to meet the needs of future society, while running a healthy and profitable business, is to become more efficient in maintaining the already existing structures. This could be done in multiple ways, but the essential ingredient for all of them is data.

By collecting more useful data combined in one platform about the condition of the equipment, a more accurate problem diagnosis would become possible. Advanced information allows companies to use their financial and human resources most efficiently and exactly where it is needed to ensure a functional and stable grid.

The problem with this is, some of the current processes to collect the required data, rely on outdated equipment and inefficient workflows, making them time-consuming and personnel intensive. As a consequence, analytical tests and onsite inspections are kept to a minimum to save costs. The result is diminished chances for early risk detection and proactive risk prevention.

CHROMA – Advanced powergrid maintenance tries to overcome these challenges by enhancing human work through technology and not to replace human resources through technology.
The concept disrupts the conservative business which suffers under cost pressure and lack of specialists by making the job more attractive and technology driven than physically demanding.

Audience

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