Factory and Site Acceptance Tests are an essential part of a project deployment cycle for electric utilities. Yet the project timeline can be challenged by many factors. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, travel could be held up by budget, availability, visa delays, and security concerns. To support its customers’ continued progress with digital projects, GE Digital has launched an online initiative for remote testing/validation, training, and support.
GE Digital pilot customer, Eirgrid Group, the state-owned utility that manages and operates the transmission grid across the island of Ireland, is benefiting from conducting real-time remote FAT/SAT testing and support using video conferencing to keep projects on track this month. Using a secure video conferencing solution for product remote testing/validation and support, the process includes:
All that’s needed is an Internet connection from both sides. This approach simplifies Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) and SAT testing to adapt to the new way of working. Plus, it can help keep a project on schedule while reducing the sometimes steep costs of travel and living expenses for testing that can take from two days up to two weeks.
With remote real-time testing available, FAT or SAT tests can be done on demand. Additionally, it’s easy to loop in GE Digital, customer or subcontractor specialists remotely if technical issues arise.
Recording the video session provides another advantage. In typical testing, if something is not captured in the report, it’s lost for good. Then, if there is an ambiguity downstream in the installation later on, the engineer has to diagnose from scratch. With the testing done via live feed, which can be recorded, the proof points remain available down the road.
The online, live feed testing approach can extend to other applications as well. For instance, in surveying substations. Instead of having to go back out to the field if something was missed in the first visit, engineers can instead return to the video and watch that again, from wherever they may be.
With testing, training, and support available remotely, GE Digital can now serve its clients faster with more flexibility. Additionally, the audience for testing, surveying, and training can expand. When these processes involved travel, typically only one or two customer personnel might make the trip. But now, with remote technology, and the recordings available, more people could see what’s going on. Perhaps a conference room of client engineers is viewing the testing in real-time. Or a customer team is called together after the fact to view parts of the recording to facilitate and accelerate training.
Securing this remote communication remains paramount. In some cases, GE Digital is testing in a live network. We can’t in any way relax the cybersecurity checkpoints to provide the convenience of remote testing. Due to the confidential nature of the data and recordings, GE Digital will only use encrypted, secure video conferencing software. Safety is foremost as customers are sharing a desktop and footage of equipment with our engineers.
Ultimately, this new way of working digitally can keep business going while travel bans are in place globally. Yet the value will remain long-term too as secure, remote testing and training can reduce costs and streamline project timelines with real-time answers and recorded data.
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**May not apply to all GE Digital Solutions, please contact your GE project manager for more details.
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