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Helen Electricity Network and Aidon: 10 years of collaboration

Helen Electricity Network and Aidon began their journey together ten years ago. What is the secret of smooth collaboration?

Roughly ten years have passed since Aidon and Helen Electricity Network, the DSO operating in Helsinki, began their cooperation. Mika Nousiainen, Metering Manager at Helen Electricity Network and Petteri Heinänen, Business Unit Director of Aidon in Finland, and, have both been involved in the project since the very beginning. The two men gathered to go over the lessons they have learned during their journey together.

Pioneers of remote connectivity

Helen Electricity Network’s decision to choose Aidon’s solution ten years ago was clearly based on necessity.

“Helen Electricity Network already has a subterranean cable network, so our challenges are a bit different from those of many other DSOs. For example, people frequently move in Helsinki – there are about 60,000 to 70,000 moves per year. Each time a resident moves away, the electricity should be switched off, and it should be switched back on again when a new resident moves in”, Mika Nousiainen explains.

“Switching power off and on manually requires a lot of resources, which is a problem we started solving ten years ago as part of the smart metering system procurement. Therefore, we were interested in the circuit breaker functionality offered by Aidon”, Nousiainen says. “We went from a fully manual process to a fully automated one – before remote-controlled circuit breaker was included in metering recommendations.”

A forward-looking and educated customer

Petteri Heinänen notes that Helen Electricity Network is a special customer as its decision to buy Aidon’s solution was purely based on improving the process and gaining financial benefits.

“Discussions with Helen Electricity Network went smoothly, because they wanted to develop their operations, and they had really put their mind to the processes”, Heinänen says.

Mika Nousiainen points out that Helen Electricity Network was already experienced in buying meter reading as a service. For that reason, the company knew exactly how much money one visit at a meter cost them.

Ten years ago, Aidon was a young enterprise. Its technology platform was a totally new kind of solution and there was just limited experience of using it in field deployments. Therefore, trusting Aidon was an indicator of Helen Electricity Network’s boldness. What convinced Helen Electricity Network of Aidon’s ability to deliver the solution?

“Aidon was a new player, so there were many questions in the air. Nonetheless, we saw the opportunities”, says Nousiainen. “Aidon had a novel way of thinking, which set them apart from others. Aidon asked us to consider how the energy service device’s capabilities could be utilised in processes, and we started building the solution together from there. Moreover, the required high-quality communication connectivity carried a lot of weight.”

Showcase for a young company

According to Petteri Heinänen, Aidon had to work extra hard to win Helen Electricity Network’s trust. The potential customer had to be persuaded not only in terms of the technology but also in terms of the stability of the company providing it. “The lifecycle of the devices is 15 years. That’s why we had to convince Helen Electricity Network that Aidon will be in the market for the long run.”

“If there weren’t for this deal, Aidon would not be the company it is now. New accounts were proof that somebody had faith in us. Helen Electricity Network was a big, good reference for us, and we got the opportunity to show how our technology works in a large scale”, Heinänen says.

“We came across some challenges in the early days of the project, but soon enough, the basic technology proved functional. Helen Electricity Network made a bold decision, as it’s a rather big deal to invest ten million euros in a purchase from a new company”, he continues.

Trust and collaboration make up a good spirit

Both Nousiainen and Heinänen laud the good spirit of the customer relationship, which is characterised by an air of trust and collaboration. Especially in connection with the planning of the process, special thanks are also awarded to Jörgen Johansson of Empower, which provides Helen Electricity Network with meter reading as a service. The men describe the collaboration between Aidon, Empower and Helen Electricity Network as close. Each company has a distinct role.

“This is a long-term customer relationship. It’s all about commitment, because the cooperation is ongoing, and responsibility is shared throughout the system’s lifecycle”, Nousiainen states.

“Together we have learned a lot along the way. We have both understood that the partner may sometimes be facing questions which are exceptionally challenging. From the very beginning of this project, we’ve shared a solution-oriented mindset: we’ve sorted out situations rationally, and we’ve both born responsibility”, Heinänen muses.

Partnership continues

Helsinki is being developed at a fast pace, and the city’s electricity distribution system is expanded accordingly. The volume of microproduction is doubled each year in the city. The data produced by metering devices is becoming increasingly important, as more customers set out to generate and store electricity. Helen Electricity Network has decided to continue the partnership with Aidon and Empower, and the three companies have just signed an agreement for the years to come. What are Nousiainen and Heinänen’s expectations towards the future?

The devices that were installed first have been up and running for ten years, and the last third of their lifecycle is almost at hand. The two men describe an ongoing development project, where they are striving to create a “prognosis” of a device’s lifecycle by analysing data from the mass of devices. Systematic lifecycle management and well-timed repairing or replacing of devices are financially significant matters.

Nousiainen notes that at the end of the day, the money for investments comes from customers’ pockets. Therefore, this project touches upon all residents of Helsinki.

“From the viewpoint of Helen Electricity Network’s customers, reliable metering equipment and up-to-date metering data make it possible for them to enjoy the cheapest electricity in European capitals, in proportion to purchasing power”, he says.

“Trust, collaboration and commitment make up a steady basis. This is a good place to continue our journey together”, Nousiainen praises.