DoIT accelerates service development

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The DoIT service, which was introduced in January, has made Fingrid’s digital service development more agile and increased the cooperation of different parties. DoIT breaks up development work into a series of short, continuous two-week sprints for a high-quality result. The first piloted project was the My Fingrid service for service providers.

Fingrid’s ICT unit introduced DoIT – a new application development service – in January. This new method of creating digital services was born of the necessity to rapidly develop solutions that customers need and that are not available on the market.

The team responsible for DoIT is led by Fingrid’s Head of ICT Business Services, Nina Kujala. She says that DoIT has been distilled from the agile methodologies used around the world and tailored to suit Fingrid’s operating environment, which plays a critical role in society. For example, DoIT emphasises information security and 24/7 system support more than conventional agile development methodologies.

Rapid development sprints and scalable teams

The first step in implementing an application with the DoIT methodology is for Fingrid’s business to identify the needs of customers and stakeholders.

According to the DoIT team, it is an honour to be involved in implementing services that utilise the latest technology and that support Finland’s electricity network. The picture shows the entire team, from left: 
Nina Kujala, Mikko Poranen, Viljami Rahikainen, Olli Aaltonen and Hannu Sintonen.

“First, we define the need and the timetable. Next, DoIT allocates developers to the project. The project can then begin quickly, as DoIT has already conducted the competitive bidding process for development agreements, so it is not necessary to request quotes for each individual project. Service providers enable us to scale our project teams rapidly,” says Kujala.

Service development work takes place in accordance with the DevSecOps model in short sprints, which usually last a couple of weeks. Once a sprint is over, the team assesses whether the target for the sprint was reached and sets a new target for the next sprint. The team’s workload is coordinated by a Scrum Master, who is responsible for the product under development, and the product owner in the business. If there is too much air or pressure at any stage in the work, it is possible to react quickly.

The first service that was implemented – and is still evolving – using DoIT was My Fingrid for service providers. Service providers have piloted the service during development. In line with the DoIT model, once the first version is released, the development team maintains the service and builds upon it to meet the needs of users.

The new model is spreading within Fingrid

The DoIT concept is being developed based on Fingrid’s experiences. According to Kujala, the aim is to harmonise Fingrid’s digital development practices and hopefully implement agile methods and tools throughout the organisation.

“When a need is placed in the DoIT pipeline, a high-quality result is obtained quickly. The business is closely involved, so they are up-to-date on the progress of the project. As a result, parties beyond the ICT unit have become interested in DoIT, and we have sparred with our customers on the introduction of agile methodologies. We are happy to help,” Kujala says.

Digital monitoring prevents device breakdowns and provides savings

The development of digital monitoring solutions at Fingrid has proceeded so well that the majority of the company’s substations will be brought within the scope of digital monitoring by 2025. Sensor systems that continuously measure data on the conditions of devices will enhance maintenance and ensure the reliability of the main grid. This is a pioneering project on a worldwide scale.

Although the security of supply on the main grid is good, the devices in Fingrid’s substations occasionally suffer characteristic faults and sometimes even explosions, which disrupt the power supply and give rise to excess costs. In the last five years, Fingrid’s grid management, digitalisation and ICT units have joined forces to study ways of improving the reliability of substation equipment using digital monitoring solutions.

“Back in 2016, we noticed that IoT technology had developed to the point that the digitalisation of substation monitoring began to seem realistic,” says Tuomas Laitinen, Senior Expert at Fingrid and manager of the project to develop a digital monitoring solution for substations.

The benefits, such as boosting the efficiency of maintenance and preventing breakdowns, were clear. The only question was whether the change could be made in a cost-efficient and genuinely scalable way. There were no ready-made solutions on the market suitable for use as substation monitoring systems. Among other means, innovation competitions were used to identify partners to develop a solution.

Critical devices first

Laitinen says that the development work has so far focused on the devices in which problems arise most frequently and which are critical in the event of faults.

“Measurement arrangements were implemented by modernising conventional measurements and including some new methods. For example, audio signals indicating faults were previously detected by the human ear, but, in the future, they will be detected using acoustic sensor systems. The system saves the sound from the device and compares it with the sound profile of a device operating normally,” Laitinen says.

In terms of detecting faults due to the explosion of a device, the solution seeks to forecast faults in many ways, including by using sensors to measure electrical discharges from devices. However, identifying the correct types of sensors and measurement methods is just one aspect of the development work.

“We have improved our methods for data transfer and mining data about the conditions of devices from the mass of data received from substations. In addition, real-time data must be presented to end-users in such a way that they can make the right decisions,” Laitinen says.

For certain device categories, the aim is to switch from time-based periodic maintenance to a state when technicians mainly visit substations because a deviation is detected by the automatic monitoring systems.

Digital monitoring to become comprehensive by 2025

The first phase in the development of digital monitoring systems was successfully concluded last spring. According to Laitinen, the monitoring system now works as an entity.

“The project is proceeding in phases, and the next thing to do is deploy the systems we have already developed into substations, alongside continuous development. The savings arising from the changes in the maintenance models for certain device categories will cover the costs of updating the monitoring solutions in forthcoming stations.”

The aim is to have digital monitoring solutions in use in the majority of Fingrid’s substations by 2025. This means tens of thousands of sensors and huge volumes of data will need to be managed.

“We are facing a major change, both on a sectoral level and on an international level. The change will improve the efficiency of maintenance, as well as the availability and reliability of the network. The goal is for us to continuously receive data from all substations on the functionality of devices. This will allow us to learn more about the devices, and thereby ensure the reliability of the network.”

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Fingrid is Finland’s transmission system operator. We secure reliable electricity cost effectively for our customers and society, and shape the clean, market-oriented power system of the future.