Wärtsilä opens Expertise Centre to serve North American energy customers with remote support

Source: press release, 8 March 2022

Ship operators benefit from remote support under an Optimised Maintenance Agreement with Wärtsilä
Ship operators benefit from remote support under an Optimised Maintenance Agreement with Wärtsilä (photo: Wärtsilä)

The technology group Wärtsilä has announced the opening of its new Expertise Centre in Houston, Texas. The new Houston Expertise Centre will deliver remote support to its US and Canadian energy sector customers, thereby enhancing the company’s ability to grow its service business. The Expertise Centre will act as a central operational hub by integrating all available data sources and is compliant with essential requirements in the US such as the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) protocols.

The facility features advanced technology and highly developed security. Wärtsilä customers can receive 24/7 support, along with unmatched guidance, real-time data analytics, and quick response to plant issues. The centre is staffed with experienced technical specialists having expert knowledge of Wärtsilä’s power plant and energy storage technologies, including the company’s sophisticated GEMS Digital Energy Platform, which enables Wärtsilä to optimise power systems for its customers.

Houston Expertise Centre enables improved plant performance and availability through the enhanced use of data and analytics. Furthermore, it helps to reduce the need for on-site visits by field service engineers to resolve issues. As a result, plant availability is increased, while travel time and expenses are saved. Scheduled visits will also benefit from advanced planning facilitated by the centre’s remote access capabilities, thereby enabling diagnostics, troubleshooting, and parts ordering ahead of the visit. Field service engineers thus have enhanced preparation capabilities.

“The opening of Houston Expertise Centre is clear indication of Wärtsilä moving up the service value ladder. We are excited for the opportunities offered by the centre, both to us at Wärtsilä and to our North American customers. It becomes a prompt point of contact for any technical or operational enquiries that need a fast and reliable resolution. Having NERC and cyber security compliance ensures a secure flow of data, and we are now able to raise our customer support to a new level, in-line with the increasing complexity of today’s digitally enabled energy systems. At the same time, real-time data analytics provide significant insight into the power plant, allowing issues to be identified before they occur, which brings added value to operations,” comments Risto Paldanius, Vice President, Americas, Wärtsilä Energy.

In addition to providing customers with remote support, Houston Expertise Centre helps power plant operators improve asset efficiency and reduce operation costs by utilising the predictive maintenance service Expert Insight. This takes predictive maintenance to the next level by using cutting-edge artificial intelligence models and advanced rule-based diagnostics for anomaly detection. With expert help from a Wärtsilä Expertise Centre, the advisory service provides crews with invaluable support by detecting minor problems and ensuring they are addressed before they become major issues. By the end of 2021, Expert Insight had been applied to more than 170 installations.

Expertise Centres are an integral part of Wärtsilä’s lifecycle solutions, maintaining performance of the power plant over its lifecycle. Wärtsilä offers performance-based service agreements, where quantifiable targets are mutually agreed based on the customer’s business needs. The measurable indicators can include, for example, power availability, reliability, fuel consumption, and emissions. Furthermore, Wärtsilä shares the risks and rewards with the customer.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for remote support services at sites across the globe. In addition to the Houston Expertise Centre, Wärtsilä has six other Expertise Centres strategically located around the world, collectively supporting 250+ power plants globally. In 2019, 62% of incoming support cases were successfully solved remotely. In 2020, despite growing demand for remote support due to the pandemic and its restrictions, the success rate increased to 92%, and in 2021 this was improved to 96%. The effectiveness can be measured by the fact that of the support cases processed in 2021, 91% were solved during the same day they were received.