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Monday, 07 January 2019 11:31

Assistance as a Service

Written by Thomas SCHIRGI

Abstract

This paper reviews currently available hardware and software for remote assistance during transformer maintenance and provides a newly created business model. Recently, a large number of wearables has entered the market, which could help support technicians in their maintenance work. This paper will focus on three of these wearables. Additionally, some software packages that are available offer a possibility to see what the technicians are doing at a certain point in time. It has been established that in order to provide a tailored remote assistance to customers, the remote assistance paradigm must include five key components, and they are: expertise, infrastructure, application and platforms, security and privacy, and a business process and business model. The resulting paradigm and the overlaying business model is called “assistance as a service”.

Keywords: assistance, Assistance as a Service, maintenance, remote help

1. Introduction

Over the last decades, many processes and workflows have changed significantly, especially in production environments, with some processes becoming more and more complex and sophisticated as a result. In order to meet these challenges, there are new information systems that we can resort to. However, although more and more activities are done automatically, there are still some service operations, especially on units such as power transformers, that have to be done manually. In production environments, some of the tasks are recurring operations, which are controllable and clearly defined as a process. In contrast, service and maintenance tasks are mostly uncontrollable, undefined and unstandardized, which is why these activities often require help from experts. The aim of this paper is to provide a stack of key components in order to offer remote assistance to engineers on site.


2. Challenges in power transformer maintenance

Power transformers are complex systems and key components of every electrical network. Each fault in any one of these units may cause blackouts over a long period of time, large profit setbacks for companies and a significant loss of reputation. Furthermore, a large number of manufacturing companies need power transformers to power their machines. The availability of both power plants and industrial plants is also regarded as a key factor in the industry. Therefore, appropriate inspection and maintenance of transformers is necessary. However, it is not always possible to send specialists to a substation due to travel restrictions. Bigger substations, such as power plants, are often located far away from cities, which makes the travel expensive and complicated.

In case of minor maintenance activities, travel costs are too high in relation to the efforts required on site. Also, in case of unplanned maintenance experts may not be immediately available, so engineers with less experience might have to perform the maintenance activities. Although service is a matter of trust, an implicit knowledge is necessary for most of these activities.

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