GE’s Renewable Energy Grid Solutions business operates in a very technical industry. Although the local Grid field engineers are both knowledgeable and capable, the highly specialized nature of some substations and grid equipment can require additional expertise. For instance, GE’s field engineers might need quick guidance on emergency repairs at a substation that is supplying electricity to an airport. Or they might ask for help with an issue affecting the national power grid. Often, an answer is needed quickly, leaving no time for a remote expert to travel to the site. And now, with the COVID-19 pandemic and the global travel restrictions it is even more critical.
Smart helmets are being used in various projects around the globe, saving our customers both money and time. Customers no longer need to send subject matter experts to remote locations on short notice, incurring extra expenses while dealing with such time-consuming tasks as obtaining visas and abroad travel authorization. And, problems are solved quickly, with images beamed to remote experts who can send notes back to the repair crews on their visors in real time.
The digital world has changed how field service engineers operate, and the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for digital solutions, explained Elisabeth Benedetto, GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Services Leader. “Field service engineers used to arrive at a job with a stack of papers in hand,” she said. “Today, they can be equipped, not just with smart helmets, but also with iPad displaying, in real time, key information on the equipment on which they are working that makes it easier to track and complete field work and produce customer reports.”
For example, GE has used smart helmets technology in Saudi Arabia on a high voltage direct current (HVDC) system. The local Grid teams connected with the worldwide Grid Services HVDC Center of Excellence in Canada where the engineering and technology services experts are located. More recently, GE used this technology to perform an emergency breakdown job at a hydro power substation in India during the pandemic. GE colleagues from the wind business also used Grid’s technology on an urgent project during this time.
“When every minute of downtime means lost revenue for a customer or a loss of power for consumers or industrial users, these tools are definitely game changers,” Benedetto added. “Digital technology is the future, and at GE’s Grid Solutions, it is happening now.”
In addition to our Smart Helmets, GE’s Grid digital services offering includes:
- Asset Performance Management (APM) solutions optimizing grid asset management strategy.
- Advanced non-intrusive inspection solutions assessing the condition of ageing high voltage circuit breakers from Grid Solutions.
- Remote diagnostic and monitoring systems installation on new and already installed High-Voltage substations
- Robotic-based and imagery analytics inspection for transmission lines (T-lines) with predictive maintenance plan.
- Virtual reality training or on-line courses