Interview: Q&A on the Go Live of Copperleaf at 50Hertz

January 27, 2022 Nica Lourens

The Copperleaf® Decision Analytics Solution is now live at 50Hertz, an electrical utility responsible for the operation, maintenance, planning, and expansion of the transmission grid throughout northern and eastern Germany. We spoke to Jan Schoenewolf, Project Portfolio Manager at 50Hertz, and Carsten Kessler, Senior Consultant at Copperleaf, to get their thoughts on the implementation of the Copperleaf solution and how it has helped 50Hertz on its Asset Investment Planning and Management (AIPM) journey.

Could you tell us a bit more about 50Hertz?

Jan: "50Hertz is one of four German transmission system operators. We are responsible for operating and maintaining the grid in the northeast of Germany, which supplies electricity to 18 million people. What makes us unique is the high infeed of electricity from renewable energy sources, mainly from wind turbines. In 2019, the share of renewable energies in power consumption was 60 per cent, however, our goal is to deliver 100% renewable electricity by 2032."

Can you share a bit about your role as Project Portfolio Manager at 50Hertz?

Jan: "I am part of the Project Portfolio Department. Our goal is to create a portfolio of projects for the next 10 years which addresses necessary grid extension required by the German Energy Transition (Germany’s planned transition to a low-carbon, nuclear-free economy), as well as the replacement of our existing assets. My team gathers needs from different departments across the organization, from strategic grid development to asset management. We then follow a process whereby these needs are prioritized, dependencies are identified, and projects are drafted. We build our portfolio of projects considering a variety of constraints, such as resource capacity, financial and market constraints, as well as suitable construction slots from our outage planning."

What did the portfolio planning process look like before Copperleaf?

Jan: "The whole process was Excel-based, so we had several different spreadsheets for CAPEX planning, portfolio optimization, and capacity planning. Since all the information was captured in different files, maintaining consistency between files and versions was difficult and time-consuming. When the board made changes to the prioritization of projects, it would result in a lengthy process to incorporate these changes on our end. Additionally, if we were asked, for example, to analyze the impact of a 10% increase in our resources, we didn’t have the ability to do quick what-if scenarios. Instead, we would have to perform a complicated manual process to determine an answer."

During workshops led by Copperleaf’s implementation team, we established a deep common understanding of how our business processes work and how they could be transferred to the Copperleaf solution. This gave us confidence that we could make Copperleaf work for us, and that it would address our needs.


Project Portfolio Manager, 50Hertz

What were the main goals for this project?

Jan: "Our main goals included:

  • CAPEX planning process: replacing our manual process with an automated short-, mid-, and long-term investment planning process
  • Portfolio optimization: replacing several Excel spreadsheets with one central repository, allowing all stakeholders to collaborate on a single source of the truth
  • Multi-constraint optimization: gaining the ability to consider multiple constraints at once while building our plans. We used to run this process sequentially. With Copperleaf, we can set all the constraints and let the optimizer find the best solution."

Carsten: "50Hertz also needed a way to optimize their portfolio using several changing constraints which is why continuous mid- and long-term scenario planning was an important goal for them."

What do you think made this project successful?

Jan: "During workshops led by Copperleaf’s implementation team, we established a deep common understanding of how our business processes work and how they could be transferred to Copperleaf. This gave us confidence that we could make the solution work for us, and that it would address our needs. We were also impressed with the agility of Copperleaf’s Customer Experience team. They were able to change and adapt during the implementation process whenever we needed."

Carsten: "The 50Hertz team had members like Jan, who were very responsive and keen to develop a deep understanding of the software. When we were no longer able to work on-site because of the pandemic, our strong rapport with the team at 50Hertz ensured a smooth transition to working collaboratively online. Unfortunately, we can’t shake hands and say, “thank you” and “congratulations” on a successful go live, but we look forward to doing so as soon as we are able to meet again in person."

What are the key benefits you think you will get out of implementing the Copperleaf solution?

Jan: "The key benefits include:

  • A single, transparent, source of truth: we now have consistent data, located in a centralized system, that we can use to make informed decisions
  • What-if scenario analyses: we can quickly explore the impact of different constraints on our plans. For example, in a situation such as the COVID-19 pandemic, we can set up a scenario with specific constraints and answer questions like ‘which projects can we still take on and which should we delay?’
  • Proactive insights: we can provide management with proactive insights to help steer strategic decision making"

Have there been any other added benefits?

Jan: "Having access to the Copperleaf Community is an added benefit. The events, webinars, and knowledge sharing that exists within this community is something I look forward to participating in."

What is next on your asset management journey?

Jan: "The goal of the first phase was to implement a leading, proven solution for the portfolio management department. Our next step is to integrate Copperleaf with existing software solutions to automate data transfer between different software platforms and departments."

Learn more about how Copperleaf clients have been able to improve their business outcomes in our client success stories.

About the Author

Nica Lourens

Nica is the Marketing Manager for Copperleaf in EMEA. With over 8 years of marketing experience in the advanced automation software industry, she is highly skilled in creating synergies between Sales and Marketing to leverage brand awareness and grow the sales pipeline. Nica holds a bachelor's degree in Chartered Marketing Management from North-West University and an Honours Degree in Business Management from the University of South Africa.

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