Small hydroelectric power stations: an SME chooses eWON remote access solutions
Jean-Michel Chanavat owns and operates JM Automatismes, a company he founded ten years ago that installs small hydroelectric power stations. "Most of our customers are private individuals who invest in small hydroelectric power stations with a power rating of less than 1 megawatt. They sell the electricity they produce to an operator such as EDF," explains Jean-Michel. He has a diploma in electrical engineering and has worked in the automation sector for almost 25 years.
Added value for customer and installer
"Before I started my own company, I had used remote management modules and I knew how useful they were in accessing a PLC remotely. It did not take me long to realise that remote access to the power stations we install would give significant added value for the customer and for my company," points out Mr Chanavat. And so he started looking for a reliable solution that would also be easy to implement. That is how his company ended up contacting eWON. "These small power stations are often located in remote areas or regions covered in valleys, and so their geographical surroundings can make them very difficult to access. But in the event of a problem, for example, we need to be able to take action promptly." eWON's solutions have already proven their worth many times over in challenging conditions. For example, they are used in offshore wind generators at very remote locations off the coast of Canada and Indonesia, and in water treatment plants.
Saving time and easy installation
Whilst unable to quantify the exact money saved through the use of eWON solutions, Jean-Michel is more than happy to talk about how much time can be saved.
"Today, our technician connects to the remote PLC almost instantly. In just a few seconds, he is virtually present with the machine, whereas it would take at least two hours to travel to the site," he explains. For JM Automatismes, such quick access to the PLC is not only useful in cases of machine failure; "for example, from right here in the office we can regulate the water level, which is a very important function for the day-to-day operation of our power plants," says Jean-Michel.
According to Jean-Michel Chanavat, eWON solutions constitute the product his company needed. "An SME like ours can't afford in-house IT specialists to implement complicated hardware and software solutions. To us, simplicity and ease of implementation are essential." .
Schneider Electric PLCs
eWON solutions are based on open standards, they connect easily to different types of PLC. "We work exclusively with TSX Premium, M340 and M2xx PLCs from Schneider Electric. So we needed a compatible solution."
To connect remotely, JM Automatismes uses Talk2M. "This allows us to handle the remote maintenance of PLCs using the SoMachine software workshop and to take control of mini cameras that are connected to certain power stations." .
The past and... the future with 3G
To date, JM Automatismes has installed about sixty hydroelectric power stations equipped with eWON technologies. "We currently do about five or six installations a year, whereas before using eWON hardware and software solutions, we were limited to two per year because the weather conditions obliged us to perform final adjustment and commissioning of power stations only in late summer or early autumn, around September or October. Now, we no longer have that restriction."
And what about the future? "Certain sites where we install our power stations are very badly connected to the wired network, and creating WiFi connections can be complicated. In those situations, we might want to turn to some of eWON's 3G connection solutions." "eWON has already generated radical improvements in many aspects of my work. Their solutions will probably make things even better in the future," concludes Jean-Michel.
• Saving time in the event of a service call
• Remote control of the water level
• Remote control of mini cameras
• Commissioning up to six installations per year