Logo IWB


About the customer

IWB (Industrielle Werke Basel) supplies and networks over 250,000 customers with energy, water and telecommunications in the region of Basel and beyond. IWB is a leader in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency. In addition, the company owns 22 wind farms, three extensive photovoltaicplants and several medium to small photovoltaicroof plants in France, in Germany and in Switzerland, or participates in them. The company has a large amount of data available, and the optimal potential use of this also plays an important role - in line with the concept of Utility 4.0, which propagates the necessary change of classical utilities to digital energy service providers.

IWB Windpark_1
IWB Windpark_2

Solution overview

  • Sector: Energy

  • Division: Asset management, finance & controlling

  • Region: Basel, Switzerland

  • Data sources: Microsoft Azure


  • Technologies used: Swiss BI Cloud, QlikView, NPrinting

  • Time to value: Three days for the development of the data model to the availability of a first productively usable application

The IWB experience with Informatec and Qlik

Initial situation

Wind park management with SCADA data

Thus data from the SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) plants of the 18 wind turbines, where IWB has a majority holding, are to be made available for monitoring and analysis purposes. The objective is to achieve the highest possible efficiency of these plants. For this, the comprehensive data, derived from heterogeneous source systems were initially combined on an internet-of-things (IoT) platform. Microsoft's Cloud computing platform Azure is used for this.

It was then necessary represent this data visually and evaluate it, via a dedicated business intelligence solution.

The selection of the appropriate software was made in close collaboration between the IT and specialist departments, above all the Asset Management division. Functionality and usability were thereby to be ensured in terms of meeting both the technical requirements of the IT experts and those of the users.


Analysis and monitoring with BI in the Cloud

The choice fell on BI solution QlikView, renowned throughout the industry as a best practice product.

This modern and flexible data discovery platform provides users with high-quality, associative and comfortable-to-use analysis options. With QlikView users can perform desired analyses and evaluations independently, without help from the IT department, in a self-service approach. At the same time, the IT department is able to ensure the safety and quality of data, as well as their regulatory compliance. The various applications and plants can be integrated as data sources, thus giving high investment security. Due to the storage-based technology deployed, even large, complex data sets can be visualized and analysed highly effectively.

For the professional implementation of the BI project, Informtec Ltd.liab.Co.was recommended to IWB. The BI specialist from the Basel area is deemed to be the Qlik Elite Solution Provider among the leading Qlik partners in the DACH region, and also has project experience in the energy and industrial 4.0 field.

"We had already pre-defined the required calculations, our analytical expectations and the graphics," explains Dirk Oehlmann, Assets Manager of IWB. "Further development took place appropriately rapidly. After just three days, Informatec provided us with an initial productively usable application. In this we soon came to appreciate Informatec's comprehensive BI knowledge and capacity to rapidly grasp our very specialised business field and our resulting requirements," continued Oehlmann.

The QlikView-based solution is operated on Informatec's Swiss BI Cloud. This is a secure, reliable and cost-effective business intelligence platform in the Cloud. The Swiss BI cloud is adaptable to the individual requirements and customers’ IT environments and is configured in different scenarios. The starting point is always a BI infrastructure solution (IaaS), extended by leading BI technologies such as Qlik.

Within six months the pilot was completely built, initially for three wind farms with turbines from one supplier. "In our parks we operate plants from three different suppliers," the Assets Manager goes on to say. "However, the producers' SCADA data are not standardized with regards to structure and wording. This requires corresponding adjustments by our IT for data retrieval, so we opted for a gradual implementation specific to the producer."

Now 95 percent of the turbines have been connected. The data volume of initially around 50 million records to be analysed is growing each month by three or four million. The data is updated every 15 minutes.

Windpark IWB

Application areas and uses

Production and component monitoring, efficiency optimization and predictive maintenance

The QlikView applications are responsible for monitoring both the overall plants and also the condition monitoring of individual components, as well as being used for analyses. "Via our wind farm app for each wind farm, we can see the prevailing wind speed and direction, how high the temperatures in the components are, how many rounds-per-minute (RPM) the rotors are making and how much power each individual plant is generating. A total of 50 signals are evaluated," explains Oehlmann. "We can thus monitor current production across national borders and in real time, which allows us to operate power trading and maintenance more efficiently."

By integrating weather data, for example, scheduled maintenance dates can be optimized - for example by rescheduling electricity generation to times when positive wind conditions become imminent, in order to avoid yield losses due to downtime.

In addition, the tool reports unusual values of SCADA data so IWB can promptly inform the technical plant manager, who can then get to the bottom of the cause on location. "Almost every day we have had findings like these and there is always something behind it. These can sometimes be little things, but at other times there may also be causes behind them that have an impact on productivity. "

There was literally a "little" problem in the case of a plant wind direction and wind strength suddenly showed unusual values. It was found that a fly had gotten stuck to an ultrasonic sensor measuring wind speed and direction. The cause could be eliminated within minutes with a fingernail and a cloth, so that reliable measurements were once more available for monitoring the plant.

The following example illustrates how the transparency of such performance data affects plant performance: IWB operates several plants in northern France that had repeated problems with a yaw inverter, a component of the motors that turn the nacelle into the wind. A small plug-in board kept burning out due to power surges Due to the frequency of this incident IWB enforced the keeping of spare boards in the respective wind farm, so that in case of failure an immediate replacement is on hand. "With this really simple measure we have reduced downtime from 135 to approximately five hours," said Oehlmann


Windpark Maintenance

  • IWB Maintenance_1
  • IWB Maintenance_2
  • IWB Maintenance_3


ROI calculation

Moreover, with the QlikView tool IWB is very quickly able to represent the monetary performance of equipment upgrades. Thus the company operates, for example, a wind farm directly on a highway. Due to the location there were often problems with ice build up. When this occurs, the plants must be shut down. Until now, this has been carried out via a temperature sensor that automatically shuts off when 0 degrees are reached. IWB built an additional sensor that measures the rotations of the rotors and works out whether there is actually a risk of ice build up. "This sensor represents an investment of 40,000 euros per plant. Accordingly, it is important to know whether the investment is worth enough for us to mount the sensor in further plants", the Assets Manager adds. "We were able to detect very accurately with QlikView how many times the temperature reached 0 degrees and ice build up was actually present. In other words, with a single click we could calculate how often the five plants fitted only with the temperature sensor shut down, and how often the plant with the additional new sensor shuts down. It has thus been demonstrated that the retrofitted plant shuts down far less frequently, because although there are often temperatures of 0 degrees and less, this does not necessarily mean there will be ice build up on the rotors. By comparing the additional power production with the current feed-in tariff, we then calculate what the plant brings in. So when we see that in the current month we have produced 7,000 euros with a plant where otherwise we would have produced 0 euros because it would have been shut down, we realise that if this were to happen about five or six times, the sensor would have already paid for itself. With an average lifespan for a plant of 15 to 20 years, this means that it is worth retrofitting all of the turbines in this wind farm with the sensor.


Predictive Analytics with QlikView

One of the strengths of QlikView is that it is also possible to evaluate large amounts of data from the past and derive predictions for the future. IWB also uses such predictive analytics.

"We initially focused on the significant key data measurements on the temperatures of the rotating parts in wind turbines," explains Oehlmann. "To this end we recorded for example the temperature values in the gearbox bearings of all seven turbines in a wind farm for several weeks, depicted them graphically and calculated the average value. As soon as this average is exceeded by a certain amount - for example 15 percent -, we get a warning. We then observe whether there is a trend emerging from this higher temperature, i.e. if the temperature remains too high or is increasing further. If this is the case, we immediately inform the technical operational manager so that he can send a technician to the plant. Because the probability is then very high that it will lead to a failure - one that we can prevent." If one of these gearboxes fails, the follow-up costs due to downtime and replacing the gearbox, etc. can run into millions. The cost of a new gearbox alone is 400,000 euros. Predictive maintenance with QlikView is thus extremely valuable for IWB.


Full transparency with QlikView

"With QlikView, we can run analyses we could only have dreamt of a year ago," says Oehlmann. "We used to receive a report from the technical managers just once a month before. Now we can retrieve data almost in real time and respond immediately to ensure consistently high turbine efficiency. This is a real change within the industry. For the first time we have full transparency of our plant -. And without having to wait for information from managers or manufacturers." At 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. the Assets Manager receives an up to date report on his cell phone, including information on temperature signals, wind speeds and directions, environmental signals such as the outside temperature and production volumes, as well as a rough target-actual comparison in terms of performance. If there are any deviations, these are stored in QlikView and are displayed proactively." On the train to work or going home I can get an instant overview of how things are going. If I see that something is up with a wind farm or a turbine, I can into more detail and take countermeasures if necessary ", continues Oehlmann.

NPrinting for daily, weekly and monthly reports

The managers and producers are sent automated daily, weekly and monthly reports. The Qlik all-in-one solution NPrinting is used for this, which allows control of the entire reporting processes in QlikView.

This new transparency also has a positive influence on cooperation. "We build expertise and pass it on to the technical manager on site and the equipment manufacturer, resulting in positive learning effects on all sides. Furthermore, communications have improved. We are no longer just one client among many, but are perceived as partners and accordingly have priority", added Oehlmann.


More predictive analytics, integration of a ticketing system and financial data

In future the scope of predictive maintenance in particular will be further expanded. "So far, we have essentially considered temperature values. We are currently developing ideas of what other data from the logbooks of the systems we can mine for specific patterns. For example, data from vibration sensors, which could be analysed to see whether there are any aerodynamic imbalances on the rotor blades. These set off vibrations, which continue through the tower ultimately to the plant foundations, where they can lead to cracking. As a result, this can lead to instability of the entire system due to moisture creeping into the foundations. This, along with fire, is the most serious - albeit rare - horror scenario imaginable for wind farm operators."

We also plan to image both technical and financial data in QlikView. A requisite SAP® interface has already been realised for this. "Our goal is a 360-degree view of every turbine and every wind farm. To this end, we will implement a comprehensive financial plan for each wind farm taking into account all investment maturities in QlikView. In QlikView, we have the ideal tool for this, "says Oehlmann.

It is also conceivable to connect a ticketing system to QlikView, so that appropriate findings will issue automated tickets with instructions to the technical manager and their handling depicted.

Other IWB divisions have also shown interest in Qlik - for example the Procurement department of the large power station in space Basel.

The further expansion of the solution is carried out with the support of Informatec, who is also responsible for the maintenance of the total solution.

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