Demand Management Brings Electricity Autonomy to Finland

fin In Finnish

Electric car, what a great and environmental innovation! The infrastructure needed for charging and the technology of the vehicles are getting better and better. The final breakthrough will come when the retail prices of electric vehicles have gone down enough for mainstream.

At the same time, unfortunately, it must be said that charging burdens the power network, which is already having a tough time. Electric vehicles are but one accelerating phenomenon; energy consumption as a whole is increasing. Finnish Energy estimated in 2016 that by 2030 the daily need for adjustment has doubled. As consumption increases this much, mere production management is not enough. The other end has to be included in the equation as well. Luckily the Internet and digitalization come to the rescue.

The Internet of Things (IoT) brings all sorts of devices to a shared network where they can report their state and even allow manipulating themselves. For example lighting system of a building can give control to external parties according to changing needs and conditions. This enables an electricity marketplace to be created. In such marketplace, adjusting power and demand-side management are traded.

Controlling power means electricity creation which can react to changes in the balance between production and consumption. Demand-side management refers to decreasing, increasing or transferring energy demand according to the current context.

Opening up electricity trade and demand-side management enables new parties to enter the game. The ecosystem is attracting new kinds of players, aggregators. There are already signs of this in Europe. For example French and German markets have companies that do not produce electricity themselves but only resell the load of the end users they represent.

One option to implement the marketplace is to automate the trade with bots, which are popular in stock markets. When applied in electricity markets, bots’ behavior should be even more regulated and restricted than in stock markets. The functioning of the supply network should never be jeopardized because of automated trading. Furthermore, parties could only operate with bots once they have proven to meet the security and trustworthy requirements.

We at VTT propose following actions to be taken in order to strengthen Finland’s autonomy in the electricity market:

  1. Investing in demand-side management in order to create more supply from adjusting power
  2. Utilizing IoT for unleashing the latent adjusting potential in buildings
  3. Managing the consumption and production of electricity over the internet, in a manner that is open to competition
  4. Creating a market place for adjusting power, which can be used to ensure reliable functioning of electricity networks

When implemented right, an open electricity marketplace would bring stability and autonomy for Finland and even opportunities to export electricity.

The research related to real estate property demand-side management has been carried out in the VIRPAB project funded by Tekes (Business Finland). The project will end in April 2018. In addition to VTT, project partners are the University of Oulu, Fingrid, S Group, Rejlers, Jalecon, Jetitek, Green Energy Finland, Fidelix, and Emtele.

Read more from our white paper ”Adjusting Power for Future Electricity Market” about our proposed actions for ensuring Finland’s autonomy in electric markets.

Klaus_Känsälä
Klaus Känsälä

Senior Scientist, VTT
klaus.kansala(a)vtt.fi

 

Factories Are Becoming Innovation Platforms

Heavy industry with its rigid processes has a reputation of being an antithesis of dynamic startup world. People think that a factory does not exactly perform agile pilots but stays the course dictated by its huge investments. This image is somewhat outdated.

Factories are becoming innovation platforms where several stakeholders can develop and try out new things. One central enabler for these activities is the Internet of Things (IoT). Furthermore, wireless networks, augmented reality, big data, or even artificial intelligence can create significant added value in a factory setting. Bringing these technologies to factories in an agile fashion is very attractive for startups.

Cooperation between heavy industry and startups requires planning and facilitation. A large corporation operates differently than a small company of two or three people, there’s no denying of that. Investment capabilities are on a completely other level, planning cycles differ, as do the capabilities for pivots. The most important thing to address is whether the factory and the startup both can identify enough business potential in their cooperation.

It is crucial to reach a situation where the risks and the benefits of cooperation are in a good balance for all participants. This way the “factory – IoT company mismatch” can be avoided. Together the consortium can pinpoint the grand challenges and go about solving them together. This is a three-step process:

  1. Scale-in: identifying the grand challenges and solving them with new technologies and pilots
  2. Scale-up: expanding the pilot results and new operating models throughout the factory
  3. Scale-out: exporting the new processes and operating models to other factories in Finland and abroad

It is not free to set up this kind of a program. A common goal is necessary but not enough; funding and risk-taking is also needed. To get things rolling, funding for pilots and business model development is a must.

Running a program like this in one factory costs roughly a million euros annually. This lump sum includes factory’s own projects, project coordination, and research modules supporting the projects. Part of the investment comes from the factory itself, part from public funding institutions like Tekes. Coordination and research is carried out by VTT and universities.

If planned and constructed well, an ecosystem as described above would create a virtuous cycle: startups expand their operations and get important references, factories obtain new innovations and operating models, and research institutions have an environment for validating their technologies. Finally, Finland will have new business to export.

Read more at: www.vttresearch.com/services/smart-industry

Marko Jurvansuu

 

Marko Jurvansuu
Principal Scientist, VTT
marko.jurvansuu(a)vtt.fi

Tehtaista tulee kasvualustoja innovaatioille

Raskas teollisuus jähmeine prosesseineen on perinteisesti nähty dynaamisen startup-maailman vastakohtana. Ajatellaan, että tehdas ei juuri ketterästi pivotoi vaan pysyy miljoonainvestointiensa mukaisessa kurssissa. Tämä mielikuva on monelta osin vanhanaikainen.

Tehtaista on nimittäin yhä enemmän tulossa innovaatioiden hautomoja ja alustoja, joissa useat toimijat voivat yhdessä kehittää ja testata uutta. Eräs keskeinen mahdollistaja tälle toiminnalle on esineiden internet (engl. Internet of Things, IoT). Lisäksi kuluttajamarkkinasta tutut teknologiat kuten langattomuus, lisätty todellisuus, datan käsittely tai jopa tekoäly, voivat luoda suuren lisäarvon tehdasympäristössä. Näiden teknologioiden nopea soveltaminen tehtaaseen sopisi hyvin startup-yrityksille.

Raskaan teollisuuden ja startup-yritysten yhteispeli tarvitsee kuitenkin suunnittelua ja fasilitointia. Korporaation toiminta on monessa mielessä hyvin erilaista kuin muutaman kaverin nyrkkipajan, tätä on turha kieltää. Investointikyky on aivan eri suuruusluokkaa, toimintaa suunnitellaan erilaisissa sykleissä ja herkkyys suunnanmuutoksille vaihtelee kuin yö ja päivä. Tärkein kysymys lieneekin se, näkevätkö tehdas ja startup tässä kannattavaa liiketoimintaa puolin ja toisin.

On tärkeää saavuttaa tilanne, jossa liiketoimintariskit ja –potentiaali ovat kaikkien osapuolten kannalta tasapainossa. Tällä tavalla voidaan välttää tehtaan ja IoT-startupin yhteensopimattomuus. Yhdessä konsortio voi tunnistaa keskeisimmät haasteet ja lähteä ratkomaan niitä. Ratkominen tapahtuu kolmivaiheisesti:

  1. Sisäänajo: tärkeimpien haasteiden tunnistaminen ja niiden ratkominen uuden teknologian kokeiluilla ja piloteilla.
  2. Jalkautus: pilotin tulosten ja toimintatapojen laajentaminen koko tehtaaseen.
  3. Monistus: tehtaan uusien prosessien ja toimintamallien laajentaminen muihin tehtaisiin Suomessa ja ulkomailla.

Edellä kuvatun toiminnan pystyttäminen ja pyörittäminen ei ole ilmaista. Yhteinen tahtotila ei yksinään riitä, lisäksi tarvitaan rahoitusta ja riskinottokykyä. Jotta päästään liikkeelle, tarvitaan rahoitusta kokeiluille ja liiketoimintamallien kehittämiselle.

Karkeasti voidaan arvioida, yhtä tehdasta koskevan ohjelman pyörittäminen kustantaisi noin miljoona euroa vuosittain. Tämä summa pitää sisällään tehtaan omat projektit, yhteistyön muiden tehtaiden kanssa, projektikoordinaation ja tehtaiden projekteja tukevat tutkimusmodulit. Investoinnista osa tulee tehtaalta itseltään, osa on tarkoitus toteuttaa julkisella rahoituksella, esimerkiksi Tekesin avulla. Koordinoinnin ja tutkimustoiminnan suorittavat VTT ja yliopistot.

Hyvin toteutettuna ekosysteemi ruokkii itseään ja toiminnasta hyötyvät kaikki tahot: startup-yritykset pystyvät laajentamaan toimintaansa ja hankkimaan tärkeitä referenssejä, tehtaat saavat uusia innovaatioita ja toimintamalleja, tutkimustahot ympäristön validoida teknologioitaan ja lopulta Suomi uutta vientikelpoista liiketoimintaa.

Lue lisää: www.vttresearch.com/services/smart-industry/

Marko Jurvansuu

 

Marko Jurvansuu
Principal Scientist, VTT
marko.jurvansuu(a)vtt.fi

Robots create hands-on feeling for remote mine operators

In the old days, miners would take a canary down to work with them in the mine shaft. If the canary died, the miners knew that they’d soon be next if they didn’t make a run for it. Canaries were a good indicator of pending disaster.

But canaries can’t do algorithms

In the mine shafts of the future, it will be robots not canaries that act as sentinels for safety. They’ll also be programmed to support or carry out other aspects of mining operations, while human operators stay safely positioned in remote stations above ground. But in the absence of any warm blooded beings below, how will remote operators be able to get a hands-on feeling of what’s going on? In order for mining operations to remain robust, efficient and safe, these remote operators can’t just be observers. They must partake in the operations, and with different senses in play.

A sense of sight can be achieved with various types of remote camera visualizations, although it’s still not easy for operators in the absence of 3D or stereoscopic view. But what about the other senses? Robots need to give feedback to the extent that remote operators feel just like being there on the spot with the remote machine.

Putting all the senses in play

An operator using a subterranean robot to drill holes in rock face may be able to experience a sense of touch, for example, through haptic feedback on the remote controllers. That means being able to feel how solid the rock is and adjust speed or strength accordingly. If the rock were to get too hard for the drilling equipment, it could create all kinds of unwanted safety repercussions and the need for expensive repairs.

shutterstock_132947174A sense of hearing as well as a sense of smell would also be useful, for example, to analyze machine motor sounds and underground explosions or events where gas leaks or burning are indicators of pending disaster. In the former case, auditory feedback is rather easy to implement with microphones, speakers and deliberate sound design. But in the latter case, instead of direct olfactory, or sense of smell, feedback, applicable sensors need to be able to detect suspicious alterations in air quality and alarm operators in other ways.

We recently visited a mining and technology conference in Toronto where many of the presenters and participants were using buzzwords like IoT, Industry 4.0, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), user experience and autonomous systems. However, during the breaks, most conceded that the mining industry still has some way to go before these tech trends could be applied to deliver value.

How can VTT help?

In a rather different kind of environment to mines, VTT, together with Tampere University, has developed a Remote Operation and Virtual Reality Center (ROViR) in Tampere, Finland to support remote operation and maintenance simulations for one of the world’s most challenging energy projects, based in the South of France, called ITER – in Latin, meaning ‘the way’.

As with mineshafts, no warm-blooded beings will be able to enter the ITER facility once it’s up and running. That means all maintenance will have to be carried out by smart robots, equipped with sensors for dealing with every possible scenario.

Finding the way with ITER

So far at ROViR, VTT has achieved high success in simulating ITER remote maintenance operations, many of which can be applied to other sectors. For example, VTT has honed the use of a transport robot to move a ten-tonne reactor cassette along a desired route with an accuracy of plus or minus 1 mm.

As well as supporting ITER, one of the aims of our design work with ROViR has been to find new ways for remote operators to achieve a sense of control. And many of these solutions can be directly applied to mining. For example, using VR/AR to help operators better understand spatial dimensions, such as distances among elements; applying ecological interface design for safety-critical control room monitoring user interfaces; or using AR video feeds to highlight crucial objects in remote work areas.

Our InnoLeap concept design approach has been developed to push radical new concepts into the industrial workplace. Backed by the experience gained from this concept design work with ROViR center, we’re now well positioned to provide numerous applications for other industries, especially the mining sector. That means collaborating with mining companies to go deep into the remote operators’ user experience. Using our task-analysis methods, we can explore what remote mining operators will need to do and know in order to be successful in their work tasks, both in abnormal and normal situations.

Canary or no canary, remote operators in the mines of the future won’t succeed by just winging it.

For more information, please visit: www.vtt.fi/innoleap/

hannu_karvonen_kuva
Hannu Karvonen
Research Scientist, VTT
hannu.karvonen(a)vtt.fi

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Mikael Wahlström
Senior Scientist, VTT
mikael.wahlstrom(a)vtt.fi

 

 

Suomesta alustatalouden globaali veturi – Suomi2.0

Alustatalous, ekosysteemi, MyData, tekoäly, data, Suomi2.0… siis mitä, häh?

Alustatalous tarkoittaa uutta talouden alaa, jossa yritys tarjoaa teknologisen alustan, jonka päälle yritykset, yksityishenkilöt tai yhteisöt voivat luoda jotain, joka tuottaa lisäarvoa. Hyvä esimerkki on Airbnb (https://www.airbnb.fi/), jonka alustaa hyödyntämällä tavalliset ihmiset voivat vuokrata omaa kotiaan. Uber (https://www.uber.com/fi/) tarjoaa alustan, jossa auton omistaja voi tarjota kyydityspalveluita muille ihmisille. Alustan käyttäjät muodostavat teknologisen alustan päälle ekosysteemin eli yhteisön, joka hyödyntää alustaa.

Suomi on linjannut tavoitteekseen lähteä vetämään globaalia alustataloutta. Suomella on hyvät edellytykset nousta alustatalouden veturiksi. Meillä on erinomaista esineiden internet (IoT) -osaamista, sekä 5G-teknologiassa olemme edelläkävijöitä. MyData (https://julkaisut.valtioneuvosto.fi/handle/10024/78439) -konsepti ollaan viemässä ensimmäisenä maailmassa käytäntöön Suomessa. Suomessa on myös poikkeuksellisen pitkiä aikasarjoja terveysdataa, sekä korkeasti koulutettu hieman teknologiaan vinossa oleva kansa. Niinhän se Linux-käyttöjärjestelmäkin syntyi Suomesta. Luodaan yhdessä teknologiamyönteinen alusta nimeltä Suomi2.0, jonka päälle syntyy vahvojen teknologisten alustojen ekosysteemi.

On todella mielenkiintoista seurata, kun maailma ja nyt myös Suomi kääntyvät suuntaan, johon me olemme jo pitkään kulkeneet. VTT:llä on muun muassa Otaniemen alueella mm. energia-, rakennusautomaatio- ja  sähkönkulutus -dataa keräävä alusta, jota vahvistetaan meneillään olevassa Otaniemi Smart Energy Pilot Platform (https://tapahtumat.tekes.fi/uploads/af21d1105/Reboot_workshop_slides_Smart_energy_pilot_platform_public-3566.pdf) -projektissa. Olemme myös mukana vahvistamassa useiden suomalaisten kaupunkien alustoja. Suurin osa tulevaisuuden alustoista, datalähteistä ja sensoreista keskittyykin kaupunkeihin, joten kaupungit muuttuvat eturintamassa digitaalisiksi ympäristöiksi. Näin ollen tulevaisuuden suomalaiset digitaaliset älykaupungit luovat meille suomalaisille alustan, jonka päälle voimme alkaa rakentamaan vahvaa tekoälyä – auttamaan meitä ihmisiä.

Seuraavassa blogikirjoituksessa paneudun tulevaisuuden alustatalouden yhteen tärkeään teknologiaan, eli lohkoketjuteknologiaan. On mahdollista, että lohkoketjuteknologian päälle rakentuu tulevaisuuden Googlet, Facebookit ja Amazonit – mieluiten Suomeen.

 

mikko_tuomisto

Mikko Tuomisto
Research scientist, Interactive Buildings
@MikkoTuomisto
@digimurros

(kuva: Timo Riihimäki)

What will your industry look like in 2030?

Industry is reinventing itself around digitalization. New technology buzzwords like user experience, augmented and virtual reality, automation, autonomous systems, and Industry 4.0 are all becoming mainstream. But every industry has the same problem: how should the new technologies be applied to deliver value in a disruptive market?

Change is coming

When we go out into the field, customer discussions turn quickly to the biggest fear they face. Fear of missing the boat or losing their competitive advantage. Change is coming but they don’t know what that change looks like, only that someone, somewhere might be about to steal their lunch.

Sun Tzu in the Art of Warfare said “To know your enemy, you must become your enemy.” We don’t think he had technology wars in mind. But what if we apply his thinking anyway to today’s competitive markets? To combat change you have to become the change. And if you don’t know what change looks like, the best way to predict it is to create it yourself – in collaboration with the right partners. InnoLeap_text_CMYK

At VTT, we developed InnoLeap to serve partner companies who have taken precisely this kind of proactive stance towards changing conditions. So instead of waiting around to see what change your industry will deliver up next, why not take the lead and become that change. But how?

Disrupt your own domain

The best place to start is to visualize change by developing new and future-oriented solution concepts. We can work with you to deliver them in ways that are engaging for your customers, the media, and other broader stakeholder groups.

Some of our jointly developed concept solutions have already tested well, with a surprising degree of success. Rolls-Royce Marine piloted InnoLeap and our collaboration journey led us to a whole new vision for unmanned ship operations in 2030. With this shared project, not only did we go together some way towards disrupting the marine domain, but we also caused a shift in thinking towards renewal of the entire industry – in this case, through visualizations of the operation of autonomous ships.

InnoLeap, if we unpack it, is basically a collection of concept design principles to push radical new concepts into the industrial workplace. Backed by our experience and solid research methods, we can go deep into the users’ world and experience while at the same time wowing your stakeholders with previously unimagined designs: with task-analysis methods, we explore what the users need to do and know in order to be successful in their work tasks, both in abnormal and normal situations. Together with the client, we can then combine this understanding with knowledge on technology trends for creating new solutions of the future.

Be your industry’s new thought leader​

With Rolls-Royce Marine, VTT was able to work with the media in a third-party capacity, precluding the need for our client to self promote. And in the first three weeks, our concept releases, pictures and video had garnered 250 separate news articles and 40,000 YouTube hits.

Rolls-Royce Marine definitely raised its profile, repositioning itself in the industry as the new thought leader, and the company is now working to influence stakeholders, including maritime lawmakers, to help drive these new concepts forward. Which means, when it comes to radical industry change, Rolls-Royce Marine is definitely not missing the boat.

For more information, please visit: www.vtt.fi/innoleap/

SEE: Rolls-Royce shore control centre concept video
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mikael Wahlström
Senior Scientist, VTT
mikael.wahlstrom(a)vtt.fi

 

hannu_karvonen_kuva

 

Hannu Karvonen
Research Scientist, VTT
hannu.karvonen(a)vtt.fi