– heading towards a low-emission future with cloud-based solutions

The new biomass-fired steam production plant built in the Artukainen industrial area in Turku, Finland, is a tour de force of the industrial internet of things: the material flows and reporting of the plant are managed completely via cloud computing. With this investment, Turku Energia Ltd has further improved the reliability and efficiency of its steam production.

“The new steam boiler plant replaced the old plant fired by heavy fuel oil. The investment is also an environmental act: switching from oil to renewable energy sources will reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of Turku Energia’s steam and heat production by about 15–20,000 tonnes per year,” says Jari Lahtinen, Project Manager at Turku Energia.

KPA Unicon supplied the Artukainen steam boiler plant on a turnkey basis, including all process equipment, building, commissioning and training of operating personal. The value of the delivery was approximately 10 million euros.

Out with the old, in with the new

The steam boiler plant in Artukainen generates steam and heat primarily for large industrial companies in the area. The production processes of these companies require a rapid response to load changes. Therefore, the new plant was equipped with two steam boilers: a Unicon Renefluid (12 MW) steam boiler, based on bubbling fluidized bed technology, as the main boiler; and a Unicon SF (10 MW) steam boiler, which is powered by liquid gas, as the reserve boiler.

The steam is mainly produced in the biomass-fired boiler, and liquid gas is used only as a backup fuel.

“The steam load required by customers in the area varies greatly. There are customers whose production runs day and night, and also on weekends. Some customers need the steam only during the day, and they close their production for the weekend. If we have more steam load than the customers need, we will transfer the leftover portion to the city’s district heating network,” says Aleksi Rantasalo, Project Specialist at Turku Energia.

Concerning the energy source, the plant will use biofuels in various forms: wood chips, bark, sawdust and forest residues. The flue gases from the plant are channeled to the chimney via an electric filter. The electric filter effectively separates the fine particles contained in the flue gases.

“The investment firmly supports our goal that half of all the energy we sell will be generated from renewable energy sources by 2020,” Lahtinen states.

In addition to the new plant, a completely new steam distribution network was also built in the Artukainen area. The network is about one kilometer long, and five industrial companies were connected to it.

Material flows at your fingertips at every moment

The plant built in Artukainen is equipped with PlantSys, KPA Unicon’s digital service platform. In its broadest application, the PlantSys platform can be used to manage the plant’s daily operations, reporting, maintenance and material flows. In Artukainen, PlantSys is used to manage material flows and reporting.

Combined with cloud computing and industrial automation, the PlantSys Material flow is a next-generation service for mobile devices used by transportation companies as well as power plant workers.

Incoming and outgoing deliveries can be logged into PlantSys without even leaving the car. Fuel samples and reporting are also done within the system. The system is integrated into plant automation, whereby, for example, opening the gates and directing the driver to the fuel storage facility can also be automated.

“All fuel supply-related functions, as well as the fuel weighing procedures, are now handled via the mobile. In addition, we receive and deliver fluidized bed materials, and also the fly ash from the electric filter and the oversized fractions from the screen are delivered for further processing.  These functions are all registered in PlantSys. Sewage monitoring and liquid gas deliveries will be added to the system later,” Lahtinen says.

Process data throughout the life cycle

The production reporting in Artukainen is also handled through PlantSys. PlantSys Reporting can be accessed from any device, and measurement data is available in real time, taking up to a minute. Real-time process data and readily available information on the plant’s maintenance and production conditions increase predictability. According to Lahtinen, Turku Energia utilizes the system in many ways.

“All the plant data we want to collect is available at PlantSys. All information is automatically logged in and can easily be reported. For example, emissions and production reports can be automatically generated for the authorities. When there is a disruption in the system, we can search for productions metrics from PlantSys each time, which facilitates the determination of the root causes for the disruption.”

PlantSys is already in use in 11 countries worldwide. The product development of the platform began in 2009. The persistent work is bearing fruit.

“With the PlantSys service platform, accessibility and connectivity have been the main goals of our development. We have developed a consumer-level user experience for industrial applications, making it possible for users to adopt these tools instantly. This is the way it should be, and also for digital tools used in industry,” says Joni Räsänen, Digital Services Product Manager at KPA Unicon.