Sunday, May 15, 2016

Hack the turbine

Final day of Fortum IndustryHack is over (13-15 of May, 2016) and the winner is a joint team of IBM and Ixonos. IndustryHack is a Finnish company that organizes series of hackathons with various industries. Past hacks have been organized with many international enterprises like Nokia, Kone, and Konecranes. Company hosting the event opens access to data via APIs and competing teams innovate new digital value-add services a top of that. 

Turbine hall of Fortum Espoo power plant.
Fortum Oyj is a Finnish energy company with 8B€ revenue, focusing on the Nordic and Baltic countries, Poland, and Russia. Fortum operates power plants, including co-generation plants and generates and sells electricity, heat, and steam. This time the target of the hackathon was turbines of power plants, including Fortum Espoo CHP and Imatra hydrogen plants.

Espotel co-organized the event with Fortum by providing instrumentation and APIs in IBM Bluemix cloud for the Espoo power plant. IBM Bluemix was the platform of choice by Fortum. Detailed description of the setup is available at a dedicated web site Instrumentation of the turbine was made with National Instruments LabVIEW and CompactRIO technology. Local NI sponsored the event by providing necessary hardware.

Espotel engineers installing compactRIO measurement equipment
for real-time position measurement of turbine axel.

IndustryHack defines itself as bringing together software developers and tech startups to create new product concepts. Hack event is open to anybody to attend, but in practice most of the attending teams are organized by software consulting companies. This time, the list of winners is following:

  1. IBM + Ixonos (software consulting company)
  2. Cybercom (software consulting company)
  3. Symbio (software consulting company)

The IndustryHack has emerged quite far away from the original idea of hackathons bringing students, hobbyists and makers together, this time there was no student or hobbyist team involved. The new concept is rather unique; leading software companies are bringing their best forces, free of charge, to innovate new solutions for the given host company, during a weekend event. Ideas are pitched and shared publicly among participants.

"You are what you share" is the slogan of the new sharing economy. Expressing your ideas with your competitors does not necessarily make you weaker but stronger. Motivation for companies to do so is the positive PR, this is what we can and that's how we do it. Some lucky one may also end up in having commercial contract for actual implementation project.

IndustryHack type of events are not only boosting innovation but economy as well. Companies are sharing best practices, competing with each other, and most importantly networking - ecosystem building. As an example, Valmet, a 3B€ machine and energy technology company, attended the hack in joint team with Futurice, a software consulting company. This kind of openings are very interesting. I'm waiting to see two direct competitors to form a joint team.

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