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Substation business becomes ever more complex

Substation business becomes ever more complex

In the past, customers simply ordered a standard station on the basis of their needs. Today’s approach is rather different. They are going for long-term agreements which already cover a functionality and technology fully prepared for the expected requirements of tomorrow’s systems.


Mathias Eroldsson is a business developer at E.ON and is in charge of the framework agreements concluded with Holtab for substations. Eroldsson used to work in project management when he bought individual products, but over the last four years he has broadened his view of the substation business.

“It’s vitally important to see the whole scope of our business. Thus we at E.ON have a tremendously high rate of investment and we need to ensure that the products we order have a long service life and that we buy the right functionality,” says Eroldsson.

Accordingly, E.ON and Holtab have worked in partnership for some time, whereby their respective technical and product development staff meet to discuss future developments. The aim is to meet several times a year to examine their development and purchasing routines.

“The framework agreements we have at present apply for a specified time and a given volume of technically-specified products. But we need to meet on an ongoing basis in order to develop improvements in product quality and content and add them before the next phase. So much is happening in the industry that we all need to be on our toes,” says Eroldsson.

Holtab’s sales manager Bengt Dahlberg feels exactly the same and highlights the importance of long-term planning:

“The products we supply today naturally offer a reliable technology but our customers also expect solutions that are prepared for the future. Our products must be able to grow with their needs.”

Eroldsson is highly satisfied with the partnership with Holtab.

“Holtab is a tremendously good and responsive partner, not only in these future-oriented discussions, but throughout all our contacts. I appreciate their willingness to meet their customers more than halfway and that they always deliver the goods when time is of the essence.”

Renewable and more control
As he looks into the future, Eroldsson sees state-of-the art products for renewable energy with built-in and expanded functionality for monitoring and metering.

“I simply expect more control and signalling. We need to know more about how our products behave, and have come far with our extended functionality in substation automation. Thanks to our partnership with Holtab, we can participate in this essential development of substations.”

Both E.ON and Holtab return to a rationale based on scalability, future-proof solutions and cost-effectiveness.

“The industry quite rightly expects applications to be cost-effective throughout a longer service life. At Holtab, we tend to talk about new substations with built-in modularity, flexibility and scalability, says Dahlberg. Our products should keep going for at least 40 years, so our perspective is based on lifetime functionality.”

Customer portal for better project monitoring
As he is in charge of the framework agreement, Eroldsson also needs a good overview of purchases and deliveries. Holtab is currently setting up a customer portal which will display all production processes and logistics parameters. In time, it will also be possible to order goods via the portal.

“I don’t know exactly what the portal will look like, but we have provided some input to Holtab. I must say that I do welcome this solution. At E.ON, we have a large order volume and several major projects on the go simultaneously so that effective monitoring is vital. It is of utmost importance for us to keep tabs on where a particular product is situated in the production chain, its exact delivery date and so on.”

Holtab’s customer portal is currently at the project planning stage and will include a series of other functionalities in addition to Eroldsson’ wishes.

“Apart from having listened to Eroldsson’ wishes in this respect, we are also planning a messaging function, approval functions as well as ordering procedures. We feel that the portal will help our customers acquire a better overview and will offer them a flexible tool for monitoring and follow-up,” says Dahlberg.

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