Driving a digital future

Severn Power is one of two locations in the world that Siemens has chosen to showcase digitalisation products that can enhance the performance and profitability of power plants.

The products are designed to help plant owners and operators to better visualise the status of their asset – either in real-time or following an event – and will therefore equip them to make more informed decisions.

Severn Power owner Calon Energy was fully supportive of the request to test new digital solutions at its plant. “They’re very happy to be one of the first plant owners to use these innovative new tools,” says Dan England, Siemens plant manager. “Calon Energy is convinced that digitalisation will be an important competitive advantage for power plant owners in the future.”

Siemens plant engineer Ciara Doyle leads the digitalisation project at Severn Power and has a clear enthusiasm for it. “A big part of my day-to-day role is monitoring plant performance and analysing data, so I have a vested interest in finding faster ways to do that and in gathering extra information to make more informed decisions.”

In the last two years she’s regularly shared ideas with colleagues in the United States and Germany who are tasked with developing digital solutions for power plants, and as a user out in the field she has played an important part in developing a key product, the Performance Advisor.

“In a market where machines are likely to start and stop twice a day, you need to be able to monitor your start-up and running performance and compare like with like data. Filtering and comparative analysis is invaluable, but we weren’t previously able to do that in the way we wanted to,” explains Ciara.

“Performance Advisor, which we’ve helped colleagues from across the Siemens global network to develop, makes it possible. We’ve been able to supply data and site advice to the software developers, to identify any issues and do sanity checks, and to feed back to them how the product looks to an end user.”

Putting customers – the end users – at the centre of the development of these digital products is essential says Ciara. “For example, our digitalisation product team can’t simply focus on Siemens equipment. A lot of the data we’re gathering at Severn isn’t from Siemens kit but from other balance of plant equipment, and the digital solutions we’re developing have to reflect that.

“As I work alongside the development team, a major part of my role is to be the voice of the customer. I’m there giving the end-user perspective to help ensure these products are tailored to their needs.”

Siemens is now testing more than 10 digital products at Severn. “Software development is always an ongoing process and we’re also coming up with new ideas of what we could do better. But we’re already seeing promising benefits from these applications,” says Ciara.

Adds Dan: “The potential is clear. A lot of manual work, for example, can be replaced with automated data analysis which will make us more efficient and also more proactive. The availability of more plant data improves our capability to predict future events and to prepare and act accordingly.”

One application which will add value at Severn is the Asset Monitor, which can be used to monitor water and steam loss. In the past, losses caused by leaking valves and tubes – coupled with limited production of demineralised water at Severn – meant the plant struggled to maintain the required water levels, which could potentially have resulted in a shutdown for repairs. The Asset Monitor tool will give the team real-time data on how much water is being used, which as well as increasing availability will reduce the water bill. “Instead of a monthly report, we’ll have dynamic data,” says Ciara. “We’ll be able to visualise our water losses and can therefore react more quickly.”

“Digital products give you a much deeper understanding of the health of a plant than we can get with conventional methods, and the more we know about its health the better placed we are to improve its reliability. Of course, we already know a lot about the plant, but connecting and evaluating all of the data with just a few clicks is what digitalisation makes easy,” says Dan.

Digitalisation is also about responsiveness adds Ciara. “Because Severn is a peak loader, we have to react very quickly to power demands. These new digital tools increase the availability of data for everyone in our team, which better equips us to make the best short-term decisions.”

By showcasing its digitalisation tools at Severn, Siemens will give all of its customers the chance to see its digital solutions in operation.

“Reliability and flexibility are key to Calon Energy’s business success and important to all our customers who run a combined cycle plant,” says Dan. “Our digital solutions can help to increase both, as well as improve overall efficiency. We’re keen for other plant owners and operators to see what digitalisation could do for them, and there’s no better setting than Severn Power.”


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