Let’s face it: the real advantage of service in the power industry nowadays is its capacity to prevent or solve issues very quickly.
After all, time is precious, time is money, and grid operators want to waste neither time nor money. Add to it their needs to reduce maintenance costs, substation shutdown time, performance lags, and it begins to look like a tall order.
Of course, grid operators now know that all this can be done efficiently and rather quickly thanks to real-time collaboration with expert technicians sitting far away. Operators can now easily fend off or fix system bugs, saving both time and resources.
At a recent visit to ABB’s high-voltage service unit in Lodi, Italy, I got an inside-view to how this works. In a surprisingly modern and comfortable room is a real-time remote monitoring center designed to enhance collaboration. The ‘Collaborative Center’ is a place that links customers to the best of ABB’s technical experts.
How it works?
In action, the Collaborative Center receives a call from a customer who is facing an emergency. The ceiling of the room starts flashing red, signaling alert. People work in an open space that resembles a glass box, and is visible to everyone in the facility. So, when the alert goes on, everyone in the facility sees it and the expert technician can answer the customer’s call.
How real is real-time?
Inside the center, a set of screens suddenly comes to life, showing elements of a Plug and Switch System (PASS), high-voltage switchgear. The expert technician starts talking to the customer.
As our expert technician was going through some instructions that the customer was duly following, my colleagues explained to me that on the other side of the line was a person wearing a special helmet equipped with a digital kit that includes an augmented reality mask with an ultra-efficient video camera. The gear allows a visual and audio connection between the customer and the technical team. What’s best: due to the ABB digital kit, the customer’s hands are free to operate the PASS with no inter-ferences in the delicate operation.
Real-time collaboration allowed the monitoring of functional parameters of the PASS module and high-voltage switchgear directly at the site through live remote assistance by ABB’s expert technicians. Doc-uments were shared and archived via a secure 3G and/or 4G LTE connection independent of the site’s connection.
In real-life case as well, such problems can now be quickly solved. The Collaborative Centre offers the customer the possibility of immediate diagnosis and potential reduction in expensive repairs or shut-down and failure. Remote on-time assistance can give a new lease of life to mission critical equipment and take some stress off grid operators.
Life looks a bit better. And oh! by the way, the ceiling turned green!