Digitalizing Energy Asset Management - Not a walk in the park

Claudio Lambert, Head of Asset IT, Distribution, Hydro & Services, Vattenfall

Claudio Lambert, Head of Asset IT, Distribution, Hydro & Services, Vattenfall

Vattenfall is one of Europe’s largest producers and retailers of electricity and heat. As such, Vattenfall is an asset-intensive energy company continuously exploring new ways to manage the huge investments in grid operations, power plants and equipment more effectively.

To this end, Vattenfall deployed a group-wide Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) strategy, with the aim to develop an IT landscape that would reduce unplanned downtimes, optimise asset lifecycle costs and support the transition to a sustainable energy system.

During the past three years, IT has successfully analyzed existing pain points in the business and proposed IT improvements. This came with some bumps along the way, but at this point, numerous projects have been executed to improve the EAM system functionality. And even more, projects are in the pipeline.

REVIEW AND REGROUP

Digitalizing the maintenance processes for energy assets invites IT to the very core of a strongly regulated, conventional and competent energy business. Therefore, IT had to create strong business alliances and change the perception of being a “one size fits all” IT supplier into a strong business digitalization partner working side by side with the R&D (Research & Development) departments.

A fear from the business was to be run over by “central IT”, which slowed down project execution and resulted in very few new initiatives being brought to the table, creating a basically empty project pipeline. A turn around was needed to get the EAM strategy execution back on track. Instead of starting group-wide projects, the focus turned to kicking off local “lighthouse projects” with a clearly defined scope, and an underlying approach to make future cross-business synergies possible.

“It is time to accelerate the digital asset management journey and capture even more benefits from having a powerful strategy in place”

Bringing the R&D departments into the IT - business dialogues energised digitalisation ambitions on both sides and encouraged IT to become a natural partner in the EAM innovation talks that traditionally were carried out by business asset managers and R&D.

WALK THE DIGITALIZATION TALK

With the EAM strategy in place, ambitions and priorities from the business have become more visible, which allows Vattenfall to focus on executing value-adding projects. For example, to ensure more sophisticated data driven Asset Management, a group-wide data lake is now available. Business analysts and asset managers can faster take full advantage of secured pre-configured asset datasets and faster improve asset investment decisions. Furthermore, as the data lake is on the Cloud, IT can take full advantage in terms of flexibility and time to market. Another project was to significantly enhance the mobile digital experience for contracted field workers, so they can use their mobile devices with full integration to back-end systems, making work orders and permissions fully available. This also allows for instant back-reporting when a work task is finished. Next to that, the onboarding of contractors executing asset maintenance has been simplified and automated, reducing the onboarding lead time from days into hours (if not minutes).

LEVELING UP DIGITALIZATION

With key lighthouse projects delivered and on-going, a joint venture with R&D and a stronger alliance with asset managers, Vattenfall has put an important foundation in place. Now it is time to accelerate the digital asset management journey and capture even more benefits from having a powerful digitalization strategy in place.

True value is created when great solutions reach production and the work behind it is based on trust, responsiveness to specific business circumstances and the fundamental conviction that the work should be designed and carried out by business asset managers, R&D, and IT - together.

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