In addition to equipping employees with smartphones/tablets, the ground layer for the new, digital way of working is reliable data and voice communication at all locations where work is carried out in the power plant. Only with a well-developed communication infrastructure can the local plant operator ensure safe and efficient operation and maintenance of the plants. The requirements are correspondingly high:
Due to the geographical location (e.g. remote mountain regions) and the structural conditions (e.g. low-rise buildings, caverns and tunnels), mobile communications coverage is insufficient or non-existent. This is in particular the case for indoor coverage.
Axpo Hydro Digital, together with partners, has developed a solution that builds on its own and specifically deployed mobile network (LTE with 4G and, in the future, 5G) inside the building and extends coverage outside.
To provide a fallback level in the case of a failure of communication via LTE / 4G, the existing radio network is being expanded in parallel and redundantly to the LTE / 4G network at all operationally important locations such as control centers, throttle valves, and base outlets. Alternatively the existing radio network is being replaced by a modern digital PMR radio network.
Other buildings (e.g. tunnels, water catchments) can also be covered with the fallback radio network as well as with Polycom access.
The "Communications Infrastructure" service ensures that power plant employees are provided with basic mobile voice communications and broadband data communications at every workstation.
Coverage of category Good or Excellent is required for the new way of working under Hydro 4.0.
(1) "Fair" category may be sufficient on access routes to work sites to establish phone calls. However, the "Fair" category is not sufficient to support the Hydro 4.0 way of working.
If communication via mobile data fails, the radio network (if exists) can be used as a backup. For the indoor area, this primarily concerns operationally important locations such as control buildings, machine buildings, dams, butterfly valves and base outlets. The outdoor area should, if possible, be completely covered.
For the existing radio network a coverage of the category «Sufficient» or better is required. However, it is recommended to improve the coverage quality at locations with only category «Sufficient».