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 Now we have one integrated system in the Group that has helped rid ourselves of many of our outdated and overlapping systems.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.
Telia’s massive data centre uses ALMA for its maintenance
Telia opened the largest telecommunication centre Helsinki Data Centre (HDC) in June 2018. The data system supplied by ALMA facilitates efficient documentation necessary for HDC, its maintenance and repair ticketing, reporting and use of training materials, and serves as a support for running financial matters of the facility.
Telia HDC, situated at Helsinki’s Pitäjänmäki, is an open data centre, which means that any company or association may bring their servers to tap into its high-speed telecommunication links. This is the feature that sets HDC apart from many other large data centres. The equipment pool of large data centres often caters only to certain organisations or their individual network services.
"Such a larger facility and its equipment base need a reliable maintenance system, which provides all necessary information easily and in real time. We chose ALMA to provide this service, because this is where we found exactly the system that we wanted. ALMA’s price/quality ratio is also spot on, and moreover, ALMA’s Finnish pedigree was another a benefit in comparison with its international competitors", says Petteri Hellsten, Telia HDC Facilities Manager.
Security, speed and reliability
Helsinki and Pitäjänmäki were selected as the location for Telia HDC due to security consideration, and good fibre connections. There are no major geopolitical risks in Scandinavia and in Finland, and neither do earthquakes pose threat to the delicate equipment located here.
"Particular attention has been paid to security of Telia HDC. Thus, its level of security satisfies the requirements of a high-level security standards. Moreover, the service ALMA provides for us has been swift, efficient and secure. We at Telia HDC see ALMA as one of the key strategic partners", admits the head of the data centre construction project Juha Ekman of Telia Finland.
Telia HDC’s location in Helsinki is also essential in terms of environmental benefits. Heat generated by servers is not actually lost, instead Fortum can use it in their own district heat generation process.
Development is ongoing
Around 30 persons use ALMA’s data system in Telia HDC. The system facilitates the management and maintenance of the facility, but thanks to ALMA the thousands of units and systems in HDC can be documented to become parts of the integrated whole. Furthermore, efficient use of the maintenance calendar, as well as fast repair and maintenance ticketing of equipment are additional benefits offered by ALMA’s data system to Telia HDC.
ALMA was first commissioned in Telia HDC as early as in April of 2018, i.e. a couple of months before the official launch of the centre. The experience of Telia HDC’s staff with the use of ALMA have been positive.
"We are currently developing and tailoring the content of ALMA to make it even better. We continuously gather the best practices related with the system. They are then used to adjust and modify ALMA such that it could meet our needs even better", says Hellsten.
Telia HDC is also looking for possibilities to implement ALMA’s new applications and solutions in future. These include, inter alia, applications connected with planning and project management, as well as documentation of spare parts. It is intended to take the decisions extending the system in the spring of 2019.
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
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