Endesa responds to the challenges of the energy market by optimising its logistics processes with Wonderware
Madrid, Spain. Endesa is the largest electric utility company in Spain and the leading private electricity company in Latin America, as well as also having a presence in the Mediterranean area of Europe. As one of the major Spanish listed companies, the multinational is firmly committed to growth as a way of bringing value to the company and its investors. Consequently, it has approved a strategic plan for the period 2011-2015 that includes investments tailored to market conditions, allocating 53% to Spain, Portugal and others and 47% to Latin America. In addition to its services of generating, distributing and marketing electricity, the Spanish natural gas market is also an important area of its development.
With a socially responsible vocation, as well as being efficient, competitive and committed to safety, health and the environment, the company applies a strict process of continuous improvement and innovation in order to achieve the highest quality products and services based on criteria of profitability. In this context, process management linked to the generation of electricity is one of the areas in which the company has been involved.
Responding to Environmental Challenges
The production of electricity from thermoelectric power plants, corresponding to 35% of Endesa’s total electricity generation, uses coal as the raw material for the process. Despite positive developments in the extraction of this fossil fuel throughout the world, which currently stands at around seven billion tons, transportation of this mineral is becoming increasingly complex.
As of July 2008, the price of coal rose by 100% over the same period last year and transport costs increased to 70% of the total price of the product. The rise in imports by China and India, existing bottlenecks in port infrastructures and the low availability of bulk carriers are among some of the reasons that have driven up the prices of this mineral.
Based on a thorough analysis of the situation, Endesa anticipated by evaluating that one of the factors that could contribute to offset the high costs of this raw material was to minimise and optimise times and operations at ports: “Reducing the costs of the process between the port and ship means improving the efficiency of the entire logistics chain of cargo handling and transhipment,” explains Intermark Technologies, the systems integrator responsible for the design and deployment of the project. “Increasing the efficiency of loading and unloading results in a shorter stay for ships at port, thus allowing for a greater number of annual trips and, ultimately, increased operational efficiency by reducing the transport cycle times.”
Using this as a starting point, the multinational identified other areas in which it was possible to improve the process: “A detailed analysis of bottlenecks, which produce deviations in unloading performance compared to theoretical forecasts, would lead to eliminating these, thus minimising the time spent in port and optimising operational costs,” explains the team involved in the project.
They also point out that Endesa understood from the beginning the importance of having available all operational information in real time: “Immediate availability of data in the event of incidents occurring would allow for rapid decision-making, thus decreasing any non-productive times.”
Once the improvements paths were identified and the state of the process used was checked – based on Excel spreadsheets from work reports, archive folders for historical data and other various informational elements – the decision was made for an ambitious project entitled “Ulysses” that would radically change the way of implementing control of the logistics activity of receiving the coal and helping both local management at each terminal and global management in terms of all facilities.