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Conflict Minerals – a Burden of Choice

Over the decades of booming technological progress industry developers have been facing the unpleasant picture of conflict sourcing. Demand creates supply but what is the price?

Natural resources have always been the most desired part of the planet’s treasures leading to the conflicts, slavery, wars. Conflict minerals are widely-used across the industries, electronics industry in particular.

Demand establishes a vicious cycle – conflict minerals trade constantly brings sources for the weapon purchase followed by the continuing violence against civilians.

Awareness is being improved though the past years with the industry moving towards “conflict-free” mining which, however, doesn’t necessarily means better working conditions or the end of children labor exploitation.

The problem of conflict mineral mining exists not only inside of the word “conflict”: solutions can be found in the field of responsible sourcing, holistic approach to recycling and alternative materials research. Increasing the Supply Chain transparency and thorough care of the human rights should be the main duty of the industry developers.

Interested to learn more? Visit our Conflict Minerals Supply Chain Compliance and Transparency Forum!

Project Management – Benefits

The role of Project Management (PM) implementation grows accordingly to the scale of business.

Needless to say that in terms of the whole industry sector such as Power Generation PM becomes inevitable.

Take a look at the major benefits for the PM implementation:

  1. An increase of cost-and-time-efficiency. Most of the business-processes can be standardized and templates-based thus reducing start-up time and shortening learning cycle.
  2. Planning and scheduling optimization based on the processes predictability. Predictability is growing through the experience and number of projects completed within the stated time and budget frames.
  3. Uninterrupted project delivery cycle being achieved through the thorough planning and control and allowing to fulfill final customer needs within minimized period of time.
  4. Increased responsiveness for problem-solving through the strict areas of responsibilities.
  5. Risk-based management approach.
  6. Fact-based decision making based on the KPI’s estimation allowing to improve the quality of the ongoing processes.

Teams are made up of individuals, each of whom has their own communication and working style. Having awareness of personal styles provides insights that improve cohesion and performance.  The main challenge continues to be that there is too much focus on completing tasks as opposed to spending time on building the team and relationships.  Fundamentally, project management is about getting people to do things.  Hear from the best on all practical aspects that you need to know about leading people and managing project for high performance – a spreadsheet or Gantt chart never delivered a project, projects are successfully delivered through people.

For more information click here.

SCADA Data Monitoring

In order to gather, assess and analyze big data related to wind turbines the process that is normally used is known as SCADA or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition. With the help of this system present on modern wind turbines a treasure trove of data that needs to be evaluated and analyzed for greater efficiency and performance of wind turbines can very easily be determined.

One of the challenges that countries investing in wind energy have faced is in terms of efficiency that they need to invest in their wind energy mechanics and infrastructure. Since the investment in terms of costs when it comes to establishing wind energy infrastructure is quite massive, it becomes inevitable to focus on areas through which the overall efficiency of wind related operations and the energy that is being produced by it can be made cheaper as well as low in terms of costing and expenses. In order to fulfill this challenge, one of the most effective mechanisms and processes that has been devised and is currently being used in that of SCADA.

The nature of big data that SCADA provides is not just restricted to power curve data or error logs, but also contain a wide range of operational characteristics that can either be studied or evaluated individually or collectively to assess the impact that each characteristic has on the overall generation of energy through wind mills. Also, it is important to mention the function of Wind Farm Analytics that allows easy management and streamlining of big data.

It is equipped with computer programming and logic skills through which they can easily handle, store and manage SCADA data. With the help of the big data that is obtained any anomalies, shortcomings and loopholes that are present in the different processes related to setting, deployment and managing of operations of wind mills and the amount of energy that is produced from it can be improved, streamlined as well as more efficient.

Interested to learn more? Visit our Wind Power Big Data and IoT Forum!


Recycling and Reuse of the Composites

The use of composite materials in automotive manufacturing is steadily growing bringing up an important issue of materials recycling. EU end-of-life directives state that 80% of the materials in a new car have to be recyclable.

Recycling turns out to be a complex process for these materials due to the fact they are partially merged with metals/paints/etc.  Most of the composites can be ground down and used as a filler. Though for CFRPs (carbon fibre reinforced plastics), known for their expensiveness, mentioned solution doesn’t seem to be optimal.

Several companies in automotive industry are involved into the CFRP recycling development separating fibers from their polymer matrices producing a clean carbon fibre that provides 90-95% of its original mechanical properties.

Recycling stays a subject of ongoing research and the best solutions are still to come. However CFRP’s light weight, excellent mechanical properties and multiple options for combining them drives the industry towards the thorough research and development of the CFRPs recycling schemes.

Interested to learn more? Visit our Lightweight Vehicles and Materials Forum!

PMO Structure – Design and Application

Lately the main paradigm of the project management in Energy and Utility sectors is going through the great change: Quality-orientation is being replaced by ROI – orientation which is fair for all the spheres of market economy.

This global change leads to the collaboration development. Alliance agreements are coming instead of the multi-contracting. Alliance agreements come with the standardized equipment design, reduced prices, reduced lead time and improved Owner-Vendor relationship.

However meanwhile multi-contracting still holds a significant share of the market requiring intricate agile approach to management.

Project management in Energy and Utility sectors involves large number of small projects which increases the complexity and troublesomeness of governance.

Developing PMO, service center, center of excellence and governance is leading to the ergonomics enhancement and improved time-management. Nevertheless PMO structure should be thoroughly designed to manage complexity of interfaces and to overcome the existing challenges.

The main requirements to the PMO structure are:

  1. Structure should be well-centralized and vertically visible – all the participants should be reporting straight to the head of the PMO.
  2. All the instructions should be clear to establish an effective delivery capability framework.
  3. Structure should keep the value providing the support to any part requiring it.
  4. PMO should set visible goals to achieve in order to benefit and maximize the productivity.
  5. PMO human resources should be relevant, well-trained and highly manageable.

Fulfillment of these requirements ensures building agile, active and prospective PMO structure in order to manage numerous small projects.

For more information click here.

Lightweighting for the Electric Vehicles

Lightweighting stays relatively young concept of the automotive industry. Nevertheless, over the past decade it has been deploying over all the industry sectors, becoming an important subject for research and development.

With European commission setting more and more strict regulations for Driving Emissions in attempt to minimize carbon footprint, car manufacturers face an uneasy dilemma – to meet the requirements or to pay increasing penalties. One of the most ergonomic and environmental-friendly options – slowly but thoroughly increase the share of electric vehicles in production.

Despite numerous attempts to bring lightweighting into discredit doubting safety qualities of lightweight materials, it was scientifically proven that these materials are not only as good but at some point are even better than regular steel. At the same time concept designers don’t stop conducting the research on safety subject.

Lightweight materials are well known as expensive way to improve the design. However, experts are sharing the opinion that the gap in prices between steel and lightweight alternatives will shrink through upcoming years (especially on the background of rising penalties for the carbon footprint).

Electric vehicles can be considered as the ultimate aim for lightweighting. While lightweight materials can be used in regular vehicles design only on partial basis, in electric vehicles they obtain perfection in use – allowing flawless unibody design concepts.

Nowadays we observe increasing awareness among the consumers connected to their estimation of the environment impact humanity make. Remembering the world industry trends, moving towards the renewable energy sources and nature protection, electric vehicles seem to be an obvious future of the automotive industry.

Interested to learn more? Visit our Lightweight Vehicles and Materials Forum!

Corrosion of Offshore Wind Farm Monopile Foundations

Monopile foundations are considered to be most common solution for the offshore wind turbines installation nowadays despite the obvious industry motion towards deeper water. The deployment of these foundations is based on the ease of installation for medium water depths.

Due to the fact of partial underwater placement, foundations are exposed to both external and internal corrosion processes. External corrosion process is similar among any offshore projects and the mitigation experience of the Oil and Gas Industry can be applied to it. Cathodic protection (CP) with galvanic anodes is considered to be the most common and well-established solution.

Monopile foundations require constant monitoring and testing and due to the fact that many operators prohibit manual procedures, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) stay the main solution.  Common monitoring and inspection techniques include [1]:

  • Drop-cell measuring protection potential of the CP
  • Stabber mounted on ROV
  • Ultrasonic testing crawler measuring the thickness of walls

That’s what is applicable to the external corrosion processes.

Internal corrosion protection still requires thorough research and description in terms of the industry standards. Although CP technology is applicable for the internal corrosion mitigation as well as for external, for many existing monopile foundations internal surfaces stay uncoated and unprotected in belief corrosion rates would be negligible. Despite that fact all the Operations and Maintenance procedures are aimed to support uninterrupted and enlarged lifecycle which brings the need of further research in terms of corrosion mitigating tools and techniques and construction materials choice to the forefront.

References:[1] Monitoring and inspection operations for evaluating corrosion in the offshore wind farms – Troels Mathiesen, Anders Black, Frits Groenvold

For further information click here.

HVDC Converter Application

Offshore Wind Power Generation Industry is slowly but steadily moving towards deeper waters in order to obtain higher productivity and use wind power more effectively. As a result common HVAC transmission solutions are stepping back, giving space to HVDC ones. Offshore substations are traditionally designed as AC collecting and transmitting platforms and changing the paradigm to HVDC will obviously require additional and pricey the installation of the HVDC converter platform.

HVDC transmission has proven that although it’s a more expensive and complex solution in terms of HVDC converter installation and maintenance it provides more opportunities for deep water projects ensuring reduced power losses and sustainable power transmission over the great distances.

There is always a choice between AC transformer and DC converter installation. Research shows that while AC transformers are easier in maintenance and less expensive HVDC/AC converters become more preferable solution for the large distances and big scale projects. In order to maximize the performance and ensure reliability it’s advised to use both systems in thoroughly calculated balance between AC and DC.

The trend towards more remote offshore wind projects installation logically will cause the increase of HVDC transmission share on the solutions market through the upcoming years.

For further information click here.

Automotive Market – Trends 2016

Despite the increasing instability of the world’s economy, automotive industry keeps growing its production volumes.

According to European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), EU automotive market sales are still on the way to recovery from the 2008 financial crisis and for 2016 ACEA experts don’t expect any impressive swings – just the steady growth in a modest tempo (in comparison to 2014-2015 growth ratio).

Key trends in the industry stated by KPMG’s Global Automotive Executives Survey 2016[1]:

  • Market growth in emerging markets was declared the most important trend reflecting OEMs focus on traditional business model (boosting the production volumes through geographical expansion). Chinese market was considered to be the most promising for launching innovations.
  • Hybrid & fuel cell electric vehicles have skyrocketed since 2015 as key market trends which can be definitely explained with the carbon footprint regulations‘ tendency for getting more and more strict by year.
  • Connectivity and digitization are becoming the main hotspot for upcoming years following developing customers’ requirements and increasing technical complexity of the concepts. This particular trend is expected to cause the disruption in cost-competitive manufacturing expansive business model and trigger the paradigm revolution leading to service-driven business model.

Hybrid electric vehicles are becoming the ultimate consumers’ choice being eco-friendly, cost-efficient, relatively affordable and appropriate for daily use. Following consumers’ demand, OEMs turn their strategical scope of interests on developing highly-efficient lightweight concepts for hybrids.

Automotive industry is going through the mindset reformation driven by the evolution of society (both in social responsibility and increasing technological complexity). That is promising the bright future for all the current concepts and innovative solutions being developed.


[1]KPMG’s 17th consecutive Global Automotive Executives Survey 2016

For further information click here.

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