Right from the inception of the MINATEC innovation campus, which was created at Jean Therme’s(1) prompting to “spearhead global innovation and technology”, ENGIE Cofely’s industrial utilities unit has had the tricky task of supplying all of the utilities and gas necessary for the micro- and nanotechnology research carried out on-site. A task it has accomplished with exemplary proficiency… and with the help of Blu.e’s Big Data tool and its expertise.
The MINATEC campus (for MIcro and NAno TEChnologies) is a centre of excellence in micro- and nanotechnologies that brings together the sector’s leading stakeholders. Set on a 20-hectare site in Grenoble, the campus boasts 70,000 m2 of research laboratories, including 12,000 m2 of clean room space. It is home to 3,000 researchers, over 1,000 students and hundreds of industrialists. It is a particularly sensitive site, where innovation, precision and ultra-cleanliness are the rule.
In this very special environment, ENGIE Cofely runs technical facilities that supply the dozen or so gases and industrial utilities required for the research units’ experiments in micro- and nanotechnologies: hot water, cold water, 45 °C water, compressed air, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, argon, helium and deionised or ultra-pure water. “There’s no room for error: the quality and availability of the utilities we supply are vital, especially those fed into MINATEC’s many clean rooms,” says Anne-Sonia Provent, Energy Efficiency and Operations Engineer at ENGIE Cofely. “Because our director had accurately gauged the size and scope of the challenge to be met, he decided, five years ago, to equip MINATEC’s technical facilities with the Blu.e digital platform.”
Creating an intelligible cross-reference table
When MINATEC was expanded in 2017, the scope of the facilities that ENGIE Cofely was responsible for supplying grew in step. “In short, it means that we are handling fresh data,” explained Anne-Sonia Provent. “Thousands of pieces of data, all told! This data comes from very disparate systems – such as refrigeration units or air compressors – which each have a specific nomenclature for the data they produce. The attribution of each piece of data can soon become a headache!” In the interests of analysis and system performance, it is essential to harmonise the names. Anne-Sonia Provent decided to apply this best practice by producing a table that cross-references utility production systems and the Blu.e analysis platform: “I worked with the technical facilities’ automation engineers to identify each type of data, classify the data according to the utility distributed and rename it in a very orderly way. For example, a temperature measurement with the rather indecipherable name “TT_8104.PV” became “HW 90 °C – Network Return T”, which is far more intelligible: HW 90 °C means Hot Water at 90 °C, and T stands for temperature”.
Smarter naming makes analysis faster and more reliable
The advantage, as Anne-Sonia Provent explains, is that “When the data is named in a clear, logical way(2), we can immediately see what the variables stand for. It’s easy then to combine them and create performance indicators at every level – equipment, system, line, building – and analyse them on the Blu.e Big Data platform. It makes tracing the analytical curves much faster and we can see the energy performance indicators at a glance. Without delay, we can see if our settings are appropriate and adjust them if necessary. It’s a real-time management tool.” With, at the end of it all, the prospect of improved process control. The benefits to be gained are clear from just one example: an analysis of the technical facilities’ refrigeration variables prompted the introduction of a series of cascaded instructions to optimise overall efficiency. “The results are compelling”, says Anne-Sonia Provent. “The analysis helped increase the refrigeration units’ coefficient of performance by 15% in 2017. In 2018, we are going to apply the same method to our production of compressed air.” Will the results be just as impressive? More news later…
of clean room space
increase in the refrigeration units’ COP, from 3.7 to 4.2
(1) Jean Therme, head of technology research at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), is a fervent advocate of collaborative projects that drew together people from different disciplines and backgrounds closely related to the world of industry. He was the prime mover behind the Minatec innovation campus.
(2) The logical naming of the customer’s data is carried out by Blu.e beforehand, when the digital platform is delivered. This is good practice and should be kept up so that, as the database expands with successive upgrades to the industrial site, analytical processing of the data continues to run smoothly and easily