The 145-year-old company delivered Hungary’s first transformer with a digital twin

2024.03.21.Hungary’s first state-of-the-art transformer with a digital twin will soon put into operation in the XI. district of Budapest, in Őrmező, with the cooperation of Ganz Transformers and Electric Rotating Machines Ltd. (Ganz). The 40 MVA transformer was delivered in November last year to E.ON Hungary Ltd.’s Budapest substation, which is currently under construction and is scheduled to be commissioned in the summer of 2024.

As global electricity consumption continues to grow, including in Hungary, there is an increasing demand for the expansion and development of existing power systems. At the same time, the inclusion of renewable energy sources is also creating a greater demand for transformers and other equipment that are essential to keep the electricity system running efficiently and predictably. A new transformer can now take up to four to five years to complete, putting even more emphasis on the development of tools that can extend the lifetime of existing machines and equipment.

Digital solution to extend the useful life of energy systems

It is true for all built-in transformers, regardless of their age, that their failure can cause a significant loss in power generation and distribution, or even in the production of industrial plants. Older machines are more likely to fail, which limits their continued operability and makes them more costly.

Ganz has therefore developed its brand of digitalised solution called GANZ Intelligent Solutions, which uses intelligent sensors to monitor the condition of electrical machines, detecting incipient failures at an early stage. The result is a system that significantly reduces the failure rate and maintenance costs, allowing the components causing the failure to be repaired or replaced before they actually cause the failure. This reduces potential loss and damage and makes it easier and more efficient to schedule the maintenance and replacement of parts or the entire machine.

The development of the renowned Hungarian company can be used not only on newly manufactured machines, but also on existing transformers, even those of other manufacturers. And by using the system and sharing operating data, expert opinions from the manufacturer will also be available to end users in the future – whether they are new or older machines.

An important milestone in this process is the transformer was delivered to E.ON Hungary Ltd.’s Budapest (Őrmező) substation at the end of 2023, which will enable Hungary’s first state-of-the-art transformer equipped with digital twin to be operational soon. The commissioning of the substation is scheduled for summer 2024.

Digital twin – the next level of digitalisation

The digital monitoring system of the 40 MVA machine manufactured by Ganz contributes to the preservation of asset health, thus extending the life of the transformer. The built-in technology collects data on the unit’s operation, such as oil or winding temperature, voltage or current data, or even the concentration of gases dissolved in the oil.

When enough data is collected, a so-called digital twin of the transformer can be created, which can greatly contribute to data-driven operational decisions, for example by simulating potential operational problems. This allows the operator to assess the impact of critical situations in advance and plan the efficient use of the equipment, taking into account the associated costs.

“The turbulent economic environment of recent years has also put the energy sector to the test, and the increasing integration of renewable energy sources is also forcing industry players to adopt new, agile solutions. Ganz places great emphasis on such developments and we are proud to have delivered the first digitalized large transformer for E.ON Hungary Ltd. Although we have been working with E.ON Hungary for a long time, our current cooperation is unique not only in our joint work but also in Hungary.” – said Gábor Farkas, Intelligent Solutions Brand Manager at Ganz Transformers and Electric Rotating Machines Ltd.

The cost of new large transformers has increased significantly in recent years, to as much as 2-3 million euro depending on their features and performance, and can take several years in total to design, manufacture and commission. In contrast, the price of monitoring systems has fallen, with solutions available on the market that allow entry-level monitoring applications for as little as 25-30,000 euro, and with lead times that are orders of magnitude shorter, even a few months. The market demand is clear: 80 percent of the 50 or so new Ganz transformers produced in 2023 is already equipped with digital monitoring solutions, while all new equipment produced this year will also have this upgrade.