Top Pick: Wind Technicians Choose Intel Technology-based Tablets for Mobile Field Work

The latest high-tech tool for the world’s largest renewable energy company is not a wind turbine, it’s the new Intel technology-based mobile tablets. Hundreds of wind technicians throughout the company’s U.S. fleet are taking their workflows from paper to the security of Microsoft Surface Pro and reaping the benefits.

The Iberdrola Renewables mobility program first started at the company’s headquarters in Spain back in 2012. The intent of the program is to digitize the work order system, and improve inventory management and parts consumption tracking, all securely and in real-time.

“We chose the Microsoft Surface Pro because it is slim, yet has a good size screen,” said Jeff Buckley, Iberdrola Renewables senior wind turbine technician. “It has a keyboard so we can put in all the data that we need, and with the protector it is strong enough to hold up to anything that we need to do. When we go out to a wind turbine I have pretty much our whole entire file cabinet on one device.”

Securing Mobile Tablets Out in the Field

The rapid success of the program expanding across the nearly 60 wind and solar farms nationwide is a testament to those who were ultimately responsible for testing and selecting the winning tablet: Iberdrola Renewables’ wind technicians out in the field, teamed up with the company’s security-minded IT professionals.

“Security is a must,” said Eduardo De Frutos, Iberdrola Renewables IT project manager. “It is one of our main priorities, and here in the United States it is even more important. We run our systems under very strict regulations.”

As one of the top 10 utilities in the world, securing their contribution to nations’ energy infrastructure is top priority for Iberdrola Renewables. “Our company has deployed a whole security infrastructure, from networks to operating systems to hardware. Everything has to be in accordance to security policies,” De Frutos continued. “Our IT counterparts in Spain were analyzing different tablets and validating them. When we analyzed hard disk performance and touch screen sensitivity, the Intel-based Microsoft Surface Pro was number one.”

Ultimately, De Frutos said, it all comes down to secure technology and making sure that any new Intel-powered tablet seamlessly integrated into stringent security policies and regulations was the key component of that process. “We came to understand a few years ago that if we’re not able to increase the technology we won’t be able to increase our business. That’s why we put the technology in the center.”

Transitioning from Pen and Paper to Real-time Field Data

“Our old system was pen and paper with manual entry into the SAP system by plant administrators,” said Amy McGinty, Iberdrola Renewables director of operations business practices. “Thanks to the mobility program, work orders now move directly into the hands of wind technicians in real-time, out in the field.”

We’re also finding that our inventory is automatically kept up to date and our understanding of our data is more accurate. At the same time, our wind technicians have a field tool to research, document, report, and solve incidents in real-time.

Prior to the launch of the mobile tablet program, technicians would handwrite reports and then hand-deliver them to a wind plant administrator who would reenter the information into a database. The switch from pen and paper to mobile tablets is already saving hours in data entry time per day.

“Work order entry was about 25 percent of my day, now that the Microsoft Surface Pro has come into play it’s about 10 percent of my work day,” said Niaomi Thibodeau, Iberdrola Renewables wind plant administrator.

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“When you get out into the field and start trouble shooting you really need to know the history of that turbine,” said Devin Carder, Iberdrola Renewables wind plant technician. “It’s really nice to have all of that right at your fingertips.”

To learn more about the Iberdrola Renewables mobility program, watch the video above we made with our crews out in the field.