Remote-readable electricity meters generate a lof of data for Fortum. As a result it was needed to create a new data warehouse for processing metering data. Fortum trusted Affecto’s expertise to develop this new data system.

Over the past three years, Fortum, a leading Finnish energy company, has delivered close to 610,000 remote-readable electricity meters called the Fortum Smartbox. Thanks to the Smartbox, it was possible to switch from estimates to actual consumption in electricity billing. Seasonal fluctuations in the use of electricity are immediately reflected in the electricity bill.

Huge volumes of data

Remote-readable electricity meters generate a huge amount of data for Fortum, currently some 15,000,000 records per day instead of the previous 350,000. Processing, analysing, harnessing and combining these data with other information play a central part in Fortum’s business development efforts.

Efficient real-time processing and harnessing the metering data made it necessary to create a new data warehouse. Since Fortum already had in a place a functioning, even if old system, a decision was taken to make use of it in designing and building up the new system.

Largest in Finland

Planning for the new data store began in 2011 and development work was launched in January 2012. Fortum selected Affecto as the partner with which to create the data store and develop the related analytics tools and methodology.

“Affecto understands our line of business. The description of the solution they prepared was precise and clear-cut. A further benefit was the adoption of the Data Vault modelling method,” says Ville Viitanen, a system manager at Fortum.

Also, Fortum valued the fact that Affecto was a Finnish company with which it could communicate smoothly. Fortum’s new data warehouse, the largest in Finland in the energy sector, is based on an Oracle database. The system uses Cognos applications for reporting and DataStage from IBM as the ETL tool. The method used in building up the data store and managing the data is Data Vault.

It is ideal for exactly the type of time series data consisting of billions of records that Fortum needs to process. Compared with the previous metering database, the biggest difference is that the hourly measuring data provided by the meters can now be combined with all the customer information stored in the same data warehouse.

“Now we are able to generate a completely new type of data for business needs that we were previously unable produce.”

The new system was put to service in later summer 2013 and is used in tandem with the old system. Full production use was achieved in November 2013.

Up-to-date in business

As the new data warehouse provides virtually real-time information on customers’ electricity consumption, sales accounting is now far more up-to-date than before.

“We’re able to monitor sales much better than earlier when we know exactly how much electricity we’ve bought and sold.”

Also, clearance of the balance of trade is now far more accurate. Previously, accounts could be settled up to two years after the actual transaction, but now final balances between the various parties can be cleared much faster.

At the same time, transmission losses across the grid can be calculated more accurately. From now on, the losses are determined on the basis of real-time data instead of theoretical computations.

Continuous development

New needs to develop the data warehouse functions and improve the components around the system have emerged during the course of the project.

“When a new system is built on top of an existing one, things come to light in the old system that need to be addressed. We decide on a case-bycase basis whether to proceed by small corrective steps or make a major version upgrade in one go.”

As a result of positive experiences, the partnership with Affecto has extended to other projects as well. Viitanen sums up the cooperation:

“Affecto has a strong pool of experts who know what they’re talking about. They’ve always been able to suggest new and fresh ways of tackling problems.”