It is no coincidence that Gábor Farkas was appointed Brand Manager of the monitoring system, Intelligent Solutions launched by Ganz Transformers and Electric Rotating Machines Ltd. The specialist, who has been with the heavy equipment manufacturer for more than ten years since 2012, has supported the implementation of the intelligent monitoring system from the very beginning, from the technical, procurement, commercial and economic sides. In the following interview, Gábor talked about the development process of the monitoring system, Ganz’s partnership with MR, what the new position means to him, and about the company’s medium and long-term plans for digitalization.

In the transformer manufacturing market, the introduction of pilot projects for digital monitoring systems are now making their way. Can you tell us about the journey that Ganz took to develop Intelligent Solutions?

The first condition for the introduction of digitalized solutions was the availability of monitoring devices, as these are the only means of accessing data on the state of the transformer. So, the idea of a monitoring system that would be available to a wide range of end-users has been floating around among the major market players for years.

At the same time, Ganz had previously produced transformers with partial condition monitoring, but a centralised system combining different protection and control functions was considered too costly for the market.  In the end, the solution was a flexible cooperation through which the supplier is able and willing to take into account the aspects indicated by the transformer manufacturer and also to integrate third party equipment. Ganz has found the best partner for the job and built an exceptionally high-level of partnership that allowed the product to be developed.

This was the partnership signed last May with Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen, the world leader in power transformer control from Germany. How would you assess your work with MR so far? What can you tell us about the history of the cooperation and about the plans for the future?

Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen has been a key partner of ours for a long time, as it is a leading company for several important components in the field of transformer manufacturing. Our strategic agreement with the company – established in a very short period of time, in just one year – also created an unusual situation in the sector, as it was the first partnership for MR with a transformer manufacturer. Since, the concept of a centralized condition monitoring system has long been a concern for both companies, independently of each other. This strategic partnership has given us the opportunity to enter the market with a service that provides customers with the quality they have come to trust and expect from both Ganz and MR.

As a result of the collaboration, all Ganz-transformers now leave the factory equipped with a basic digitalization package. I think this already reflects the seriousness and effectiveness of our cooperation and our commitment to digitalization. The development of the product does not stop there, of course, as we are already exploring what new features could bring additional benefits to the customers.

Farkas Gábor

What would you mention as the biggest challenge and difficulty you have encountered recently in the process of the digitalization of transformers?

When computers first came into our lives, many people were suspicious of the new device. Today, most of our society cannot even imagine their life without smart devices. As with all the major changes, the digitalization of transformers has also provoked, and still provokes mixed emotions in many end-users. This, though, can be a barrier to technological innovation. Which is why at Ganz we try to present the benefits and opportunities of digitalization to our partners in an objective way, as well as the emerging threats and responses to them.

In addition to the acceptance of the monitoring system, we also faced several technical challenges and obstacles, such as how to make the various functions available in a centralised way in one place. However, together with MR, we have successfully overcome these obstacles and are now able to provide transformers with a multifunctional panel that performs protection, control and condition monitoring functions simultaneously, providing an integrated and centralised solution for our customers.

The development of Intelligent Solutions has raised a number of questions also on the marketing, sales and procurement side, for example about the different IS packages, the features available and their price-performance ratio. Our intention was to create packages to provide the best possible solutions for our customers – with features that are really needed when operating their equipment.

By the end of last year, Ganz had delivered the first three intelligent transformers to its international and domestic customers. What were the first impressions and feedback on Intelligent Solutions?

Our first project with our Swedish customer – like the first in any field – required a lot of attention, precision, and commitment. That being said, only a few months following the delivery, we have already been contacted by the end-user that they would like to order more units with additional technical features. I think this speaks for itself. In addition to our foreign customers, one of the largest Hungarian utilities has launched its first digitalization pilot project, in which they will use the highest possible package of Intelligent Solution.

How would you define Ganz’s role in the digitalization of the domestic and international transformer manufacturing market? And what medium and long-term goals has the company set for the further development of the monitoring system?

According to our understanding the foreign and Hungarian markets in this area are more or less separated from each other, in the sense that while digitalization is more advanced internationally, we see that market players are relatively more reserved in Hungary. Our main task in this situation is to raise awareness of the importance of digitalization and to promote technological innovation in our country, so that the concept of the digital transformer can be spread among a wider range of market players.

So, raising awareness and encouraging the use of digital solutions is one of our key short-term goals at the moment. I think that the lack of digitalization is something that cannot be afforded in a global economic environment where the scarcity of resources is part of our daily lives. This is not only in Ganz’s interest, on the contrary, it is in the common interest of all industrial players in Hungary.

The medium-term goal is to broaden the portfolio of Intelligent Solution with the digitalization of electrical rotating machines and switchgear, the integration of new R&D results, market solutions and products. On the long run, we plan to develop a business model based on a system that can provide end-users with real-time technical support for the operation of their device.

Let’s also talk a little about your position. How long have you been employed by Ganz and what was the journey that led to the position of Brand Manager at Intelligent Solutions?

I’ve been working here since the first day of the company’s reorganisation in 2020. If you include the various times under a different name and ownership, I joined in 2012 as an electrical design engineer. In my more than ten years at Ganz, I have always tried to move in a direction that helped me acquire new knowledge and skills.

So, over the past decade I have had the opportunity to work in several positions: for three years I was design engineer in the Transformer Division, and then I worked at auxiliary design also in the role of design engineer. In this position I worked on transformer protection, cooling control and condition monitoring systems. From 2019, I had the opportunity to experience a completely new, economic, and commercial side of transformer manufacturing as a purchaser. In this latter area, I was also able to use my experience as a design engineer to understand exactly what was at stake at the negotiating table.

More recently, I’ve been working as a strategic buyer for Ganz, so I’ve been able to negotiate higher level framework contracts with our partners. As part of these activities, I have in recent years increasingly focused on developing the condition monitoring system in collaboration with MR.

Basically, the fact that I was able to support the implementation of the monitoring system from all aspects – technical, engineering, procurement and commercial – led me to the position of brand manager.

As a professional, an electrical engineer, how did you experience the journey to the development of Intelligent Solutions? What does this appointment mean for you? And what tasks and plans are ahead of you for the future?

The fact that I was able to work on this development has made a huge difference to my everyday work. Because I have been able to see this kind of development process not only from the point of view of engineering and technical aspects, which is based on precision and accuracy, but also from the commercial and marketing aspects. Previously, I spent roughly three years in a particular field, but I think the versatility of the responsibilities that come with being a brand manager will change this trend.

As for the future, my main task in the next period will be to lay the foundations of a well-functioning marketing strategy for Intelligent Solutions, thus making the solution as well-known as possible on the domestic and international market. We also want to improve the system from a technical and R&D point of view. I will also continue to be responsible for nurturing and maintaining our cooperation with MR, as well as for finding further partners. I will also represent Intelligent Solutions on the commercial side to potential customers, end-users, and companies. So, I think there is an exciting and busy time ahead of me in all aspects.