The sight of wind turbines off the coast of many European countries is something we are becoming used to. With renewable energy production across Europe increasing in 2022, it now accounts for a fifth of all electricity generated across the continent. It’s a trend that also look set to continue with research commissioned by Panasonic TOUGHBOOK predicting that nearly 84% of energy generated in Europe will come from either solar, onshore wind, offshore wind or hydropower by 2050, compared to just below 50% in 2021. But one thing we rarely consider is how do energy companies maintain these renewable energy facilities when turbines for wind farms, for example, are in environments so difficult to operate in?
Engineers, operating in the wind farms located off the coasts of the European mainland and UK, require a reliable device that can withstand the harsh environmental conditions and ensure uninterrupted service and maintenance of the towering wind turbines.
Historically, service and maintenance engineers used regular business laptops for their work. However, they quickly realised that these traditional devices were not built for the heavy knocks and vibrations of helicopter and boat transportation and work on the turbines or the extreme weather conditions regularly encountered at sea.
With these devices working outside of their comfort zone for extended periods, the climate conditions soon caused serious issues. As well as the knocks and scrapes, the high levels of salt penetrating open slots and ports led to the accelerated decay of laptop parts.
With the devices not fit for purpose, energy companies needed another solution. That’s when some major industry player turned to us. Initially the organisations chose the Panasonic CF-20 TOUGHBOOKs, before more recently switching to the TOUGHBOOK G2 tablets. The TOUGHBOOK G2 is tested to the MIL-STD-810H standard and officially IP65-rated for water and dust resistance, ensuring that the ruggedness of the G2 more than matches the vigorous nature of the work undertaken.
Device maintenance and versatility key to success
The ability to effectively maintain the TOUGHBOOK G2 tablets is fundamental to efficiently servicing the wind turbines. Before deployment, Panasonic can provide comprehensive video instructions on how to protect the G2s after being exposed to the elements. For example, with corrosion a serious concern, engineers can safely rinse the devices in fresh water and quickly dry them off after a day’s work. This is a key consideration for companies in choosing the G2 – rinsing other units would cause long-lasting damage.
The versatility of the G2 is also a key selection criterion. The G2 is equipped with the highest level of hardware, software, and identity protection giving engineers the confidence that data is secure, regardless of their location.
Often operating in remote locations, confidence in connectivity and accuracy in geo-location technology is an important factor for engineers in this industry. Here the Panasonic rugged Toughbook devices excel. They offer optional 4G LTE/5G for optimised connectivity and Panasonic is still the only rugged device manufacturer with its own development and testing facility for antenna communication and accuracy. This type of investment in innovation ensures the connectivity and location accuracy in its devices is second to none.
Future-proofing through increased customisation and modularity
The ability for the G2 to operate as a laptop (with optional keyboard), and as a standalone tablet is another significant benefit for energy companies. Operating at heights of up to 260 metres, the ability to easily grasp the rubberised exterior of the tablet gives engineers confidence that they can operate the tablet safely, whilst analysing data seamlessly when back on the ground.
The G2’s screen can be used in different modes, depending on the use case and climatic conditions – the ability for the touchscreen to be neutralised when it’s raining with the engineers using a pen for touchscreen inputs, provides an additional level of precision for engineers.
Energy companies are also taken with the rugged tablets because of their extensive customisation options. Two configurable interfaces enable different modules, such as HF-RFID, smartcard or barcode readers to be easily added. With over 20 different configurations available, organisations know that the devices can be tailored to any desired use case.
Lower failure rates keep the lights on and reduces lifecycles
With hundreds of devices across an energy company’s estate, the TOUGHBOOK G2 delivers a dramatic reduction in failure rates, when compared to off-the-shelf office laptops.
Failures drop to the Panasonic industry-leading standard of less than 2% across all devices, helping to maximise uptime for engineers. This means parts are only being replaced when needed, and longer overall deployment periods for each device helps organisations to hit their sustainability targets and reduce waste.
As the renewable energy boom continues to surge, many companies now see Panasonic TOUGHBOOK as the ideal partner for the future.
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