Right information to right people at right time

Right information to right people at right timeEfficient data management in the power plant industryIngo Kaiser, Manager Marketing Communications, Industry Automation, Siemens AGWith their high degree of efficiency, modern gas power plants play an important role in the context of the Indian energy revolution. However, due to changing general conditions, economical operation is becoming more and more difficult for power plant operators. Aside from the use of the most modern power plant technology, efficient data management can contribute toward productive plant operation.Renewable energy alone will not be able to cover the rising global demand for power in the short or medium term. During the transition phase, new energy concepts must be implemented. Modern gas power plants, in particular, make an important contribution here by supplying “clean energy”. However, the use of regenerative energy is changing how such plants are operated. In future, gas power plants will no longer be used to cover the base load, but rather as a supplement to so called “must-run units”. A switch will be made to these plants when the energy demand can no longer be met by regenerative energy like solar and wind. This means fast powering up and down of the gas power plants at time intervals which cannot be planned. This puts enormous strain on plant materials due to the thermal stress. Furthermore, economical operation of gas power plants is becoming more and more difficult due to their supplementary support role and the unplannable energy demand.Challenge for municipal energy suppliersMunicipal energy supply companies are faced with major challenge of supplying local energy demands of private households and industry, all the times without problems. At the same time, these companies must continue to operate economically in the face of rising costs. One example is the municipal energy supply and service company “Stadtwerke Hannover AG (enercity)”. The company covers the basic supply of 650,000 people and local businesses with electricity, gas, district heating and drinking water. With over 2,500 employees, it is one of the 10 largest energy supply companies in Germany and operates four power plants in and around Hannover. One of these is the Linden joint power plant, which is known as “the three warm brothers” by the locals because of its three boiler houses with 125-metre high chimneys. The power plant went into operation in 1962 and has been modernised multiple times in order to replace outdated technology and increase efficiency. In 1998, the first gas and steam turbine plant was put into operation with a gas turbine and the old steam turbine from 1962. In 2011, an additional gas turbine was installed and the steam turbine was replaced by a significantly larger joint steam turbine. With this change, 210,000 tonnes of CO2 were saved in a single year.Investment in efficient data management With the use of modern technology like these highly productive gas and steam turbines, the data volume to be managed within the power plant increases. For this reason, enercity decided to invest in an electronic plant and document management system to enable even more efficient, economical plant operation. In 2009, the company carried out a benchmark on five different software products. “We were not looking for a mere data management system, but an intelligent data management system which we could use digitally to map the plant quickly and easily and which would allow further planning,” remarks David Röbbing, System Administrator at Linden heat and power plant. This system was to manage the complete existing and new plant documentation, whereby process-oriented document storage takes place according to the power plant classification system (KKS).Object-oriented software solution with uniform databaseAfter intensive analysis of the five selected software products, enercity decided in favour of the COMOS software solution from Siemens. This software is based on a uniform data platform and takes an object-oriented approach. It provides a seamless, consistent and navigable database for mapping the existing and the expanded plant (starting with the new gas turbine). Today, the complete power plant can be mapped digitally 1:1 in its current state. The KKS is used in the database as a higher-level plant designation system.  Documents which were created with the COMOS planning tools are named according to designation codes for document classes in power plants (DCC). Third-party documents receive an existing internal power plant document key and are referenced according to DCC and KKS guidelines and also stored in the central database. Data is entered by means of an automatic bulk import into the document and real device world of the database, where it is linked with the plant and location world. So-called tabs with different attributes contain all process engineering components. These attributes are implemented in the software in accordance with the guideline VGB R171 “Provision of Technical Documentation for Power Plants”.Connection of the power plant-specific information systemsSome years ago, the power plant operator started to develop a specific information system for the employees in the Linden power plant. The main idea behind this measure was to preserve and make better use of the existing employee know-how. The information system is based on an Oracle database with an added forum application. Different events are stored in the system, for example alarm messages and their handling. This so called “electronic shift book” now contains over 145,000 entries which the employees can access with a free text search. The information system is also linked to the software solution via an interface. In this way, employees can call up additional information on objects or plant devices stored in COMOS which helps in faster and better decision making. Customer-specific adaptation and data implementationBefore the data implementation of the plant, documentation was started in the Linden power plant. The responsible employees came together to develop a concept for the new document management system. They defined a basic structure in which the standard software solution would be adapted in a customer-specific manner. “One of the big advantages of COMOS is that the software is flexibly adapted to the existing work processes and not the other way around,” says Mr Röbbing.After the database structure was defined, the input/acquisition of the data and implementation of the documents took place. Existing documents in paper form were scanned and stored in the new database structures as digital documents. Suppliers received defined Excel lists which had to be filled in according to the guidelines. Afterward, these lists were compared with the tabs in COMOS, which were developed in accordance with the VGB standard. The Berlin engineering office Thielert supported the plant operator in the definition of database structure, development of tabs, data import and document migration.Well-filled database, simple navigation and many advantagesBlock diagrams, process charts, “piping and instrumentation (P&ID)” diagrams, site maps, activation plans, single line diagrams, control diagrams, the fire alarm system, data from units (e.g. armatures, pumps and vessels) and diverse other documents were implemented in the database. In this way, 400 A4 folders with approximately 300,000 documents were integrated for the new gas and steam turbine plant alone. The total data for this is approximately 500 GB. Despite the huge volume, working with the data is quick and easy — thanks to the powerful software. For example, switchgear can be displayed according to the information which is required. Also, additional information -such as location of the subunit, circuit diagrams, and views and diagrams of the control cabinet -can be shown on it. In this way, employees in Linden power plant obtain the information they need very quickly with just a few clicks. This means that they can concentrate more on their actual tasks, rather than losing valuable time while searching for information. “We have the guarantee at all times that the available data and documents reflect the as-built state of the power plant,” says Mr Röbbing, describing an additional benefit of the software solution. Being used as a data management system, COMOS is also used for project and plant planning. This has advantage that adaptations and information exports take place in only one system, and there is no need for multipronged user training. The users only required a 2-day intensive training to work successfully with the software.

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