Kuopion Energia required a single system to handle everything maintenance-related
Documentation was hard to find, placing work orders was difficult, and the user experience was rigid. These were the issues that prompted the update of Kuopion Energia’s maintenance system, which will now cover the entire Group. All management is now harmonised and accessible through ALMA.
For a long time already, Kuopion Energia had acknowledged the need to harmonise maintenance systems, for the business operations of power grids, district heating and energy production. In practice, the situation was such that two of the units had reached the end of the road with the old system, and one unit did not have a system in use at all.
“We had a specific need for a new system in the energy production branch. The old system worked for some things, but in other aspects, it was very impractical. We also needed the new system to be very user-friendly, as it wasn’t always possible to find what you were looking for on the old system – at least not very quickly. For the past 10 years, we have invested extensively in the power plant, and there have been a lot of modern projects. All of their documentation is in electronic format. The old system was obtained in the 1990s, when it was still very much a world of paper. That has also put us in a difficult position,” said Markus Laukkanen, the maintenance manager of the Haapaniemi power plant.
Clear vision about the project – a successful result
As the mass of electronic documentation increased, Kuopio started having earnest discussions about the need for an update. The end result was that the new joint maintenance system would include three business branches, and it must include stock and material management as well as mobile functions, and the required commissioning services and integrations with other group systems.
One of the most significant cornerstones for the success of this project was systematic groundwork and needs analysis. It also helped with choosing a supplier: in the end, it was almost self-evident that it would be ALMA.
“We did a thorough requirement specification and overview. There were several supplier candidates, and we had more specific discussions with a few of them. It became clear quite quickly that ALMA understood us the best, and they were able to offer solutions that were perfect for us. They also kept discussing the details of the new systems with us, so that it would cover everything the field workers would need. They aren’t using desktop computers out there”, the ICT manager Jami Miettinen and Markus Laukkanen both stated.
Miettinen admitted that on the group-level, this project was IT-driven.
“We were looking for the complete package – that the servers and the terminals would work well, and that everything could have easy maintenance, and that information security issues would be dealt with. The district heating and power grid operations cover a large area. Likewise, the power plant is a huge area. The new system has to be suitable for all of them. The ease of the implementation was also very important!”
Getting things done, even after the project has ended
The project has now progressed to the normal operation stage at Kuopio, and everything is working as it should be. According to the feedback Miettinen has received, using the system is easy, quick and logical.
He also highlighted how during the first six months of the project implementation, there was plenty of flexibility all around.
“There are always small complications in projects, it’s just a matter of fixing them. However, ALMA kept all of their promises. The worst thing would have been to have to exclude some things we need. As the project progressed, ALMA always found a solution. There was a focus on getting things done. We have also already agreed on future meetings, and that the system will be developed further if we need new features, or if any practical issues have to be solved,” he summarised.
Both men were particularly pleased with the benefit for the entire Group:
"We got a single system with more total users compared to every business branch having its own system. This makes it a more extensive ecosystem. When there are more users in many units, the system can be developed and grown, to serve the needs of the entire company and of the individual employees better.”
Kuopion Energia’s project with ALMA Consulting Ltd started in summer 2016, and the new system was implemented in late 2016.
Text: Tia Härkönen / Picture: Kuopion Energia
ALMA's software for production use at Kotkan Energia
ALMA Consulting Oy's software is part of a wider ERP reform of Kotkan Energia, which includes ALMA's maintenance system, inventory, purchasing and document management, mobile work control, and electronic logbook. ERP reform replaced the energy group's decades-old system. The supplier is also actively involved in the further development of software.
Kotkan Energia Oy is a company owned by the City of Kotka. Kotka Energia Group comprises the parent company Kotkan Energia Oy and the subsidiaries Karhu Voima Verkko Oy and Karhu Voima Palvelu Oy and the associated company Karhu Voima Oy. The Group employs more than 100 people working in several different locations and subsidiaries. At the start of the ERP project, the Group had dozens of different information systems, and some of them had reached the end of their life cycle.
"We wanted a maintenance and financial management system that serves the whole group. The project included energy production, district heating and electricity grids, industrial services and the material management and storage of the entire Group. The system also supports customer invoicing for work," says Financial Manager Anne Kujala. She has worked as a Project Manager at Kotkan Energia's renewal project information system since its inception, i.e., from autumn 2016 onwards.
A modern, easy to use and flexible solution
When such major reform is carried out, there is a need to prepare for it carefully. The objectives of the project must be very clear so that the outcome of the tendering of IT system suppliers will certainly be the very best system.
"ALMA was the most suitable system for the Kotkan Energia Group covering all the features we needed. Now we have one integrated system in the Group that has helped rid ourselves of many of our outdated and overlapping systems. ALMA's solution is modern, easy to use and flexible. We can also add new features to it as the needs arise," says Jari Mäkelä, Chief of Maintenance at Kotkan Energia. He has been actively involved in the information system reform, especially with regard to its maintenance system.
Maintenance is constantly on the rise
When the Kotkan Energia Group has a common system in use, it is known almost in real-time what is going where.
"All of our maintainers now have more uniform and more mobile working methods. Also, the technical information of the equipment with the spare parts and documentation clusters and service history is better than the previous one for all maintenance personnel in the system," continued Mäkelä.
According to Mäkelä, the change in the information system created good conditions for the continuous development of the maintenance of Kotkan Energia. The system can be developed according to the company's changing needs.
Better customer service
According to Anne Kujala, the biggest benefits of the new information system are that all people in the group now use the same system. Many things are much easier than ever now the Group's operating and working methods have been harmonized. Customers receive the same high-quality service regardless of where and with whom they are doing business.
"For example, bug reports are now processed in the same system, so information is immediately available to all our installers. In terms of material purchases, we know in real time what materials are available and what needs to be ordered," says Kujala.
Utilizing ALMA for weekly meetings
Weekly meetings of powers plants use of Alma’s reports. The ALMA system delivers a real-time logbook with bug reports of the plant's events.
"Hours spent working can be included in the new system through subscription. The material costs used for the work as well as the costs of the outsourcing work are also logged. Events are recorded in the system almost in real-time, making the information up-to-date and quickly available to everyone," says Kujala.
The system will also develop in the future
The introduction of the ALMA information system was officially launched in early November 2017. However, some of the Group's staff have been using the system for much longer. During the project, new development needs have emerged, some of which have already been implemented.
"We are now bringing together the development needs of this project, and we are planning to follow up on them. We are discussing the development proposals in a regularly developing working group. Based on the discussion held there, we look at what new features will be introduced in the system. With a very confident mind, we look to the future," says Kujala.
Despite the extent of its broadness, the implementation of the system has really worked well in cooperation with the supplier. Users have also adopted the system for their own daily use.
New, intelligent life-cycle information management from the beginning of the project - Case: Raahen Voima
When Raahen Voima Oy's new power plant was first switched on, the maintenance unit of the plant had already in their use all the information needed of the plant's life-cycle.
The tool in this revolutionary method was ALMA Consulting's integrated ALMA® maintenance management system, which was able to receive and combine all formats of the technical data used by the different system providers.
The new Finnish Raahen Voima Oy power plant, located next to the Raahe steel factory, is highly modern and advanced. This new boiler plant uses the blast furnace and coke gases — created as a by-product of the steel production — as its energy source for power generation. The operating efficiency of the power plant meets the highest technical demands of the iron and steel industry. The maintenance management system of the plant was also executed with an exceptional model.
All information needed for the plant’s maintenance was already fed to the new ALMA Consulting Oy’s ALMA® system during the plant’s construction. This ensured that the maintenance unit already had all the information available when the power plant was first launched in the summer 2016.
“Even though this may seem very simple, most of the projects are not executed in a similar manner. Usually, the data is gathered from several different systems for the maintenance people after the project. It often takes years for all the needed information from the project to be integrated into the system and for the maintenance staff to use,” says Niko Pahkala, ALMA Consulting Oy’s Operations Director.
Intelligent Integration Platform
During the project, data collection was enabled by ALMA® system’s ability to act as an intelligent integration platform,
”Our system is able to receive and process all the technical information, not just documents but also complete information elements. The machine information cards for maintenance are created also already during the project.” In addition to data collection, the system can also combine the data from multiple machines into reasonable information, “For example, the technical information of a pump is enriched with other necessary details, such as its electricity source, its physical location, and its monitoring.”
The linkages of information also reveal possible errors,
“A lot of mistakes on the surfaces can be eliminated. The system tells if there is, for example, false or contradictory information in the pipeline identification,” says Pekka Mäyrä, client's ALMA user.
All Data in One Place
Data collection during the project demands a new kind of operational model,
“Often, the co-suppliers of the technical systems cannot provide the documentation in the format the customer’s maintenance system would require. Thus, the information needs to be adjusted into compatible format, afterwards.”
“As ALMA is a very adaptive system, it can receive and process information in all formats the suppliers are using.”
Niko Pahkala is very satisfied with the way information management can now be executed,
“All the data created during the project can be delivered to the customer intelligently in the right format and are well-organized.”
Exact Information Leads to Cost Reductions
The working method ALMA Consulting is using in their information management is taking into consideration the whole life-cycle of the plant,
“It needs to be remembered that the information system is used by dozens of different people over time. Now the information is available in one location for everybody.”
Pahkala estimates that comprehensive and accurate information pool will bring significant cost savings over the years,
“When the needed information is immediately available, the maintenance and repair is faster and more efficient, work planning is more accurate, and shutdowns can be prevented and shortened. Shutdowns are critical hours leading to expensive bills, but the situation can be significantly improved if the information is easily accessed. All in all, unnecessary work can be reduced the next 20 years,” Pahkala concludes.
Information and know-how are your assets. Do you know who uses them and for what?
The ALMA® system ensures that the invaluable information and know-how generated over the plant’s lifecycle is not lost to the organisation. Instead, it will be stored in a single system and be available on a real-time basis to all who need it.
ALMA Consulting Oy Ltd offers a full range of software services from commissioning and development to maintenance, support and training. ALMA® is registered trade mark and it has been in the market since 1986.
There is a need for a single system, which would combine property management, maintenance, security and quality. Jukka Manninen, ALMA’s Business Manager has discussed this topic with a number of individuals working in different capacities across a range of industries, and recognises their concerns related to comprehensive management of affairs and information.
Reliable asset management ensures that a company’s production-critical property is in a perfect condition throughout its entire lifecycle. An asset management system improves a company’s efficiency, data security, and reinforces continuity of the business.
Learn how you can master the data management of electrification, instrumentation and automation design easily.