The day-to-day experience for renewable energy asset managers and engineers is often frenetic and stressful. Every day these individuals are doing their best to wade through the potential wind farm issues— it is a daily fire drill where asset managers never feel they truly have a handle on asset management, but are instead purely reactive.
As renewable energy companies continue their growth, finding ways to optimize asset performance is more important than ever. That’s why RWE Renewables invested in NarrativeWave’s intelligent asset management. We spoke to David Molitor, Offshore Wind Engineer, to find out how NarrativeWave changed the day-to-day experience of operators at RWE Renewables. Mr. Molitor shared their experiences of the changes felt at the individual and business level. You can watch the complete video interview here.
Before RWE brought on NarrativeWave, every wind farm operated in relative isolation. RWE is a global company so language barriers and culture played some part in this, but also the fact that they had very manual processes for asset management. In the interview Molitor described a very static issue documentation and resolution process involving pdfs, spreadsheets, and documents. “Technicians always had to look up issues in this PDF document to check what they could do. That process was quite a lot of maintenance.”
In describing how painfully manual they were, Mr. Molitor added that asset managers had to manually search through thousands of error codes a day, attempt to weigh their priorities and ultimately arrive at a handful of alarms that represented the biggest potential energy losses. But this was extremely difficult to judge because infrequent issues didn’t get tracked. So when a less common issue came about, the “wheel had to be recreated” to figure out what action to take.
“Technicians always had to look up issues in this PDF document to check what they could do. That process was quite a lot of maintenance.”
All of the information that was tracked was siloed by wind farm. There was no information sharing between installations. The end result was that asset management was always in reactive mode. And looking at it from a holistic business perspective, Mr. Molitor commented in hindsight that it was “an extremely inefficient and costly model.”
Once RWE started using NarrativeWave their process radically changed. Mr. Molitor describes how NarrativeWave efficiently provides clear information to address asset issues. “With NarrativeWave we get feedback from the turbines straight away. Asset managers in the control rooms can quickly see if they can reset or if field action needs to be taken.”
“We now finally have a good way to get repair success or failure feedback from the field and that is helping us so much.”
If work does need to be done, NarrativeWave highlights what to do, using knowledge RWE puts into the system. “Asset managers can now look into NarrativeWave and see what actions they can do and what materials they need.” This helps RWE engineers easily get work orders created. By tracking problem resolution and using predictive analytics, NarrativeWave guides engineers to the best solution. “NarrativeWave gives me this statistic showing which action is the most likely one to fix the problem. And this helps me do my job preparation quite a lot.”
RWE is also using NarrativeWave to further optimize the asset management process. “Technicians add comments in NarrativeWave as to what they did that worked, then our asset managers review that and decide if they want to make that a standard in the future.” The automation of NarrativeWave is helping RWE significantly improve the role of operators. They are saving time on reactive re-work and can now be more proactive.
Mr. Molitor is thrilled, “We now finally have a good way to get repair success or failure feedback from the field and that is helping us so much.” Not only is RWE continuously improving their operations, but NarrativeWave is helping RWE scale with their rapid growth.
“Our sites have teams that are very experienced, but NarrativeWave amplified that by creating a way for us to do knowledge sharing between these teams."
Before NarrativeWave all of the RWE sites were very siloed. Each was individually knowledgeable on their assets, but there wasn’t any knowledge sharing across the sites. Mr. Molitor commented, “We really needed to organize ourselves because the asset equipment and parts were often the same across geographies.” Particularly for sites that were small, they might only encounter an issue once every two years and have to figure out how they solved it last time. Language barriers made it difficult for asset managers to reach out to peers to see if they experienced the problem more recently and knew how to fix it.
That siloed operation changed with NarrativeWave. “Our sites have teams that are very experienced, but NarrativeWave amplified that by creating a way for us to do knowledge sharing between these teams. It has even helped us culturally, creating a team spirit across our more than 25 sites.” Mr. Molitor sees the benefits of this at an operational level above the sites. “With NarrativeWave we became much more efficient. Especially now that we have statistics, like what are our top 10 failures globally, so we can focus more on them to get the repair time down.”
As renewable energy continues to grow at a rapid pace, operations need to become more efficient to better support that growth. NarrativeWave was the clear answer for RWE.
Perhaps most importantly, RWE are fixing problems faster with NarrativeWave. And that saves money. Mr. Molitor pointed out, “Every turbine visit costs money. The most costly are the ones where you have to make multiple visits without finding the cause.” And RWE is indeed finding resolutions faster thanks to the global use of NarrativeWave. “NarrativeWave helps us do a little bit of a knowledge exchange between our regional sites. When they operate the same turbine, it doesn't matter if the turbine is on in Wales or in Germany, they get the same error codes and the steps to fix it are kind of the same.”