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Rapid development of digitalisation boosts efficiency of power plant maintenance, engineering and personnel training

19 May 2017, 10:00 EEST

Our goal is to better utilise the opportunities, new technologies and internal innovations presented by digitalisation. The rapid development of digitalisation also enables improvement to power plant operating and maintenance processes.

These rapidly evolving technologies have now been used for few years in different parts of Fortum - the benefits and payback has become evident. Among other things, interactive 360-degree videos have been taken into use at our hydro and nuclear power plants to boost efficiency in projects and maintenance. Based on the user experiences, we’ve gained a lot of good ideas on how to further develop the technology and apply to new uses in  maintenance, engineering, projects and training.

Own development needs led to a new solution also for our Clients

The idea to use the 360-degree video technology stemmed from the needs of the power plant’s own personnel.

“The development project is a good example of functioning collaboration across organisational boundaries because the solutions have been tested and implemented simultaneously both in the nuclear power and the hydropower sides. In the latter, interviews were conducted to map the needs and the technologies; meanwhile digitalisation workshops were held with the nuclear power people to brainstorm the best application targets,” says Miko Olkkonen, Head of Sales, Nuclear Services, Fortum.

The first videos were shot at the Imatrankoski and Tainionkoski hydropower plants and at the Loviisa nuclear power plant. The Loviisa videos offer the opportunity to virtually visit places that are inaccessible during the power plant’s normal operations, places like the cramped, radioactive steam generator room. For the hydropower side, the technology provides the opportunity to virtually visit our numerous hydro power plants that are geographically dispersed around Sweden and Finland. These interactive 360 videos have proven so useful that Fortum has started to provide them as  service also to other companies in Finland and abroad.

“At Loviisa, the videos are useful in planning the annual outage, for instance. Precisely timed maintenance work is carried out during the annual outage in areas difficult to access during operations; with these videos, this work can be planned out and scheduled  in advance better than before, this shortens outages, reduces risks and reduces personnel dosages” Miko says.

The videos provide a seamless 360x180-degree view of everything around the video camera. Thus the viewer has an unobstructed view of the space from every angle, and details can be zoomed in on. If the person is wearing virtual glasses, moving about in the virtual space feels almost the same as moving about in the actual space. Users can make notes and stick “yellow post-it notes” and “hot-spots” on the video, thereby enabling the video to function as a communication tool for project personnel, for example.

The videos can also be used in the onboarding of new employees and in radiation protection training for people working in the annual outage. A video can also have an interactive functionality by including a 3D model of the target or various data and documents alongside the video. For example, a 30-page user manual for a crane that is used in critical hoists inside the reactor building can be converted into an experipential-based virtual manual.

“Virtual video training packages can also be made into a service that we can offer to customers. Since the beginning of this year we have presented our operating models to the rest of the nuclear industry, and the feedback has been very positive. The same technologies can also be applied to improve the operational efficiency of all kinds of production plants. At the moment we are the world leader in taking newest digital technologies (AR, VR and 360 video) into daily use and we offer our clients the best and most effective solutions for utilising interactive 360-degree videos,”  Miko concludes.