RWE Generation goes digital with IBM

German energy company uses IBM MobileFirst for iOS app to manage maintenance for fleet of large equipment used to mine brown coal
RWE Generation goes digital with IBM RWE Generation goes digital with IBM RWE Generation goes digital with IBM RWE Generation goes digital with IBM RWE Generation goes digital with IBM

IBM MobileFirst for iOS app manages maintenance for fleets of large equipment used to mine brown coal

Staff reporter

RWE Generation is teaming with IBM to develop an analytics-driven IBM MobileFirst for iOS app to better manage the maintenance needs of complex, large equipment and assets.

RWE Generation stated that Asset Care will be the first in a suite of apps that RWE and IBM will jointly develop and deploy to RWE field forces using iPads to improve maintenance efficiency.

RWE Generation produces electricity through a broad energy mix, including lignite or brown coal. Lignite is an important domestic energy source for Germany with 24% of its electricity coming from lignite-fired power plants. RWE mines up to 100Mt/y of lignite in open-cast mines using huge machines like bucket-wheel excavators, spreaders and conveyors.

This equipment mines coal in a highly energy efficient and cost-effective way, but is still susceptible to heavy wear and tear. RWE Generation’s mining equipment is operational 24/7, deals with abrasive materials and is exposed to all kinds of weather, requiring it be continually maintained to ensure minimal interruption of mining activities.

Mark Eberlein, head of technical support at RWE Generation, said: “Efficiency is a critical concern when it comes to operation and maintenance of our heavy equipment. Apple and IBM are transforming enterprise mobility. Tapping that collaboration gives our employees real-time access to constantly monitor the equipment and to more precisely forecast situations when a machine might be running into an unplanned outage.”

IBM MobileFirst for iOS Asset Care running on iPad mini will actively support RWE maintenance engineers, technicians and craftsmen by proposing the specific maintenance task previously determined to prevent outage or damage. Currently, all crew involved have to fill in forms to initiate and keep record of the maintenance jobs required. From paper, the information is then transcribed to a traditional plant maintenance software system.

Asset Care eliminates this manual process by streamlining tasks and allowing field workers to instantly capture repair information on iPad, including image and video files, so they can easily identify equipment issues and complete tasks more efficiently and safely. Field technicians are equipped with mobile access to real-time updates of manuals, maintenance and operational history, and GPS-based location systems for monitoring and tracking of equipment and field workers, resulting in a reduction in equipment downtime and cost of maintenance.

Luq Niazi, general manager, Europe communications sector leader at IBM Global Business Services, commented: “IBM and Apple are redefining how work gets done by bringing together the world’s best technology with the smartest data and analytics. Together with RWE Generation, we've applied our deep knowledge of the energy and utilities industry to build an app that will raise the efficiency of the maintenance workforce.”

In the worldwide energy and mining industry, RWE is the first client of the strategic Apple and IBM partnership. Both IBM and RWE have identified that Asset Care is an industry solution that could support the transformation of how maintenance operations are delivered in industries with large and complex assets.