“We are developing digital condition monitoring with the aim of improving the operational reliability of the main grid. The new monitoring system will provide us with constantly up-to-date information about the condition of the grid. Our target is to reduce the number of severe equipment malfunctions, and the system will also enable us to take maintenance measures where they are genuinely needed. The system provides us with several times more visibility over our devices,” summarises Tuomas Laitinen, Senior Expert at Fingrid.
Fingrid began collaborating with Elia, the Belgian transmission system operator, in autumn 2019 following a European transmission system innovation event.
“We presented our digital monitoring system, which we had already been developing for a few years by then. Elia expressed an interest in trialling the system. Transmission system operators are not in competition with one another, so inclusive and active collaboration is in everyone’s interests. We are able to utilise collective intelligence, more expansive expertise and more extensive data for developing monitoring models and algorithms. Cost-efficiency also improves if the development expenditure can be shared. Elia is now ready to take a bold step into new territory, and three substations on Belgium’s main grid are now testing the same monitoring devices as we have on our main grid,” Laitinen says.
A long-term approach improves quality
Martin Crappe from Elia’s innovation unit praises Fingrid’s development work for using the latest technology.
“It was a great benefit to us that we did not need to start developing a monitoring system from scratch – we able to make use of the years of work done by Fingrid. The monitoring devices were easier to install than we expected: it was well organised, and we utilised technical innovations such as VR. In the future, it will be easier for us to forecast electricity transmission problems thanks to the digital monitoring system. Our main grid will become more reliable, and costs will go down,” Crappe says.
Fingrid identified a few Finnish partners through innovation competitions, and these entities have been agile and keen to develop the new system quickly. One of the partners is ionSign, which has developed digital condition monitoring sensor systems for Fingrid. Elia is now using the same devices on its grid.
“Thanks to the collaboration between European transmission system operators, we believe that we will gain new, long-term customer relationships for our condition monitoring devices. We have gained valuable experience that will enable us to further improve our products,” says Mika Kivistö, CEO of ionSign.