Automation has been an integral part of VEO’s business units since the start more than 30 years ago. To further strengthen and develop the automation know-how, all of VEO’s automation experts are now merging into one team. The new organisation is being led by Mats Warg, who pinpoints hybridisation and digitalisation as the key focus areas of the new automation team.
Mats Warg has been appointed as the Director responsible for VEO’s automation business as of 2 June, 2021. At the same time, he became a member of the VEO Management Team and reports to CEO Timo Ala-Heikkilä.
“Focusing the attention on automation is a way to futureproof our offering”, Warg says. “We are not merely a switchgear manufacturer; we offer our customers an all-inclusive service concept, where automation is a vital part. By mobilising our shared automation knowledge, we can serve the future needs of our customers even better.”
Warg is well acquainted with VEO’s automation processes, having been involved with these since 1995. The first five years he spent as a freelancer coding PLCs for thermal power plants, and since 2000 he has worked as an employee of VEO in various managerial positions, the last few years as an automation manager in the Power Generation business unit. He only sees advantages with the move to place all automation know-how under one umbrella.
“Bringing together our automation experience, processes and tools in one organisation makes us more efficient. Instead of developing our offering for separate needs in separate business units, we can now offer a well-working cross function for all our customers’ needs.”
VEO has extensive automation experience within different industries and processes, and the ability to efficiently adapt this experience from projects lasting only a few weeks to mega projects requiring up to 20 person-years of work. A recent extensive assignment is the control system project for one of Wärtsilä’s CHP engine power plants currently under construction in Germany. The project is one of VEO’s largest and most demanding automation projects to date. “A CHP engine power plant produces electricity and district heating simultaneously, something that makes the design phase rather complex”, Warg explains. The long-term cooperation with Wärtsilä includes both new installations including commissionings as well as modernisations of power plants.
Another long-term automation customer is Fortum, for which VEO is currently supplying electrification and automation solutions to a thermal power plant in Dublin, Ireland. “At the moment, we are working with the design and programming of the equipment, after which the production of low and medium-voltage switchgear and control systems will start at our factory in Vaasa.”
VEO also has solid experience within hydropower automation, and here Warg sees endless opportunities in the Nordics. A considerable amount of the hydropower plants built in the 1970s require modernisations. In connection to such modernisations, many customers seize the opportunity to simultaneously revamp the plant with a hybridisation solution, for example by adding a battery.
“Hybridisation is on everyone’s lips as it is an important tool to decrease the countries’ dependency on fossil fuels. Automation naturally plays a fundamental role in hybridisations, and this is where I see significant possibilities opportunities for VEO to take on an even more active role”, Warg explains.
Automation has taken massive strides ahead during the last two decades that Warg has been at VEO. In addition to hybridisation, he sees IoT and digitalisation as the primary focus areas for VEOs automation business.
With the entrance of increasingly intricate networks, servers and virtual machines, VEO has concentrated on cyber security for quite some time. “Defining how you build and maintain a secure network for a power plant is a vital process. Here I feel we at VEO have comprehensive and competitive know-how.” When it comes to switchgear and other VEO-manufactured machinery, VEO utilises IoT-based solutions to optimise maintenance intervals for example. “If the self-diagnostic equipment lets us know that it is doing fine, we can postpone the yearly maintenance by a few months, thereby saving our customers both time and money.”
Having technical documentation such as operation and maintenance manuals in large folders is also starting to become a thing of the past. “We are in the process of digitalising our documentation to make life easier for both our own people and our customers. Clicking through user-friendly instructions on the HMI is what especially younger engineers expect today.”
When automation develops, so do the people who work with it. According to Warg, that is exactly why the area still fascinates him. “As soon as you believe you truly know something, it changes,” he laughs and continues: “Staying at a company for as long as I have may seem strange to some, but as the field of automation is so broad – just as VEO’s customer base – you never stop learning and developing. I am delighted I can now share this opportunity with the team; they will have almost endless opportunities to develop together with the security of staying with the same employer.
Warg is well aware that you cannot, and should not, try to learn everything yourself. That is why recent recruitments to the automation team have been IT experts and Warg also expects the team of 35 to grow to 50 in the near future because of the focus on IoT and digital solutions.
“You constantly need to embrace new ways of doing things, and at times, the best know-how is somewhere else. We are all experts in our own fields and by cooperating, everyone wins, especially our customers”, Warg concludes.
Mats Warg, Director Automation, VEO
Phone: +358 207 190 240
“By mobilising our shared automation knowledge, we can serve the future needs of our customers even better.”