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​Cheaper, faster and safer building process

Statnett has ambitious targets for its Lean Line R&D project. This means thinking outside the box.

The objective of the project is to develop solutions that will enable Statnett to build 20 per cent quicker, 20 per cent cheaper and 20 per cent safer. By 2020, this objective will be implemented for 80 per cent of Statnett’s construction portfolio. Programme Manager Sonja Monica Berlijn believes the ambitious targets are achievable.

“We think we will achieve most of the objectives, but it will be challenging. We have to be innovative, think outside the box, and think Lean,” Berlijn says.

Even though the potential is greatest in some areas, costs are so evenly distributed that we must save time and money within each area and activity if we are to reach the overall objectives.

Sonja Monica Berlijn, Programme Manager in Statnett

Building more power lines than ever before

The Lean Line programme is part of Statnett’s technology development for construction of the next generation main grid. Under the programme, Statnett has implemented four programmes: one for substations (Lean Station), one for cables (AC&DC Power Cables), one for power lines (Lean Line) and one to develop core expertise.

“We are planning to build between 4 000 and 5 000 kilometres of new power lines. You can imagine how much we will be able to save if we can reduce construction costs by 20 per cent through new technology. If we also have a quicker and safer construction process, more aesthetically pleasing material design and gain acceptance for our construction methods, we will have achieved many of our objectives,” Berlijn says.

Saving time and money

The Lean Line programme was established in 2012. Initially, 65 ideas were evaluated. Some of these were discarded, some prioritised and some merged into one idea. At the moment, the programme management believes that the greatest potential lies with the choice of material (32 per cent of the total potential). However, Statnett is also considering and working hard on new ideas including installation of power lines (27 per cent) and foundations (23 per cent) as well as pylons (18 per cent).

“Even though the potential is greatest in some areas, costs are so evenly distributed that we must save time and money within each area and activity if we are to reach the overall objectives,” Berlijn emphasises.

Programme Manager Sonja Monica Berlijn of Statnett has faith in the company’s ability to build quicker, cheaper and safer.

Major potential

The Lean Line project ideas and activities are varied:

  • One foundation project focusses on pre-fabrication of foundations, and another on micro piling, where the rock makes up part of the foundation. A third project relating to casting concrete foundations in winter, may contribute to extending the construction season by two to four months.
  • Intelligent use of helicopters will help increase safety and make sure that the use is more target-oriented. Statnett has held workshops for this with 15 helicopter companies.
  • Using composite for pylons can reduce the weight by 50 per cent. This will affect both transport costs and reduce the work scope. However, composite is a complicated and expensive material, so Statnett is not quite there yet. Consequently, intensive efforts are being made regarding alternative pylons of traditional material where there is a cost-saving potential and the construction time can be reduced.
  • Icing on power lines, which causes outages, is sought solved using an automatic de-icing system for power lines.
  • A transport solution involving airships has also been considered. This has cost-saving potential, but realisation depends on market development on the supplier side.

These, and other projects, are presented continuously as ideas or recommendations to the steering committee and company management, as the projects are completed.

Applying a Lean methodology

Statnett also has a separate focus area looking into the Lean methodology. The objective here is to define five R&D projects that can help reduce the use of helicopters, human risk, waiting time and activity.

“How can we reduce working at heights, helicopter activities, footprints in the natural landscape and rock blasting? These are issues we are concerned with. But we are also looking into how we can get closer to existing roads, or what we can do to improve ergonomics for the staff involved. Health, safety and environment is at the heart of everything we do in Statnett, also when it comes to R&D,” Berlijn says.

Text: Morten Myrstad Photo:Statnett

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