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Ganz Intelligent Solutions Launches new Tech for Transformers

Manufacturing

Jan Prins, managing director.

Storied Hungarian manufacturer Ganz has introduced new technology that helps transformers reach their peak performance, saving costs and contributing towards more sustainability in the power sector. Its experts tell the Budapest Business Journal how Ganz Intelligent Solutions contributes to more streamlined operations and a greener future.

Swiss-born manufacturer and engineer Ábrahám Ganz founded the Ganz Works in 1844. After his early death at 53, András Mechwart, a German-born Hungarian-German mechanical engineer, became the chief executive. The company grew to be one of the flagships of the 19th-century Hungarian economy and has stood the test of time. One and a half centuries later, Ganz Electric is still innovating.

The latest transformation at the company took place a few years ago. When CG Electric Systems Hungary Zrt. went into liquidation in July 2020, Ganz Transformers and Electric Rotating Machines Ltd. acquired all the company’s assets in a public auction. The new company also bought the Ganz plant in Tápiószele (90 km southwest of Budapest) and concluded employment agreements with almost 300 former employees.

With this move, Ganz Transformers became 100% Hungarian-owned again after 15 years of rapid changes in ownership that saw a British majority stake, Austrian ownership, and then membership of an Italian industrial giant.

As if signaling a new chapter in its history, the company introduced a new technological development, the Ganz Intelligent Solutions, in 2022. This launch has opened a new era of transformer manufacturing, the fruit of intensive research and development activities, and a strategic partnership signed with Germany’s Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen (MR). Today, this new arm manufactures a unique monitoring system that can provide a complete picture of the transformer unit’s status.

The Ganz innovation enables condition-based maintenance, which extends equipment lifetime. Ganz equips its transformers with monitoring systems that send notifications on the unit’s condition, alerting when repairs are due, putting an end to costly scheduled maintenance. These systems help prevent sudden faults that would stop equipment from generating electricity, which saves costs and minimizes interruption to electricity network operations.

“The first condition for the digitalization of transformers was the availability of monitoring tools, as only with the help of these can we access data on the status of the units,” Gábor Farkas, brand manager of Intelligent Solutions, tells the BBJ.

Gábor Farkas, brand manager.

Flexible Partnership

“The idea of a condition monitoring system accessible to a wide range of end-users has been floating around in our sector for years. Though Ganz had previously produced transformers with partial condition monitoring, a centralized system combining different protection and control functions was considered too expensive for the market,” he explains.

“The solution was finally found in a flexible partnership with MR, since the supplier is able and willing to consider our requirements and integrate third-party tools.”

The monitoring system comes with additional perks. Users can optimize transformer operation, evaluate electrical machines’ thermal conditions, analyze oil content and chemical composition, and maximize equipment usage and cooling. The system annuls unnecessary maintenance and eliminates on-site monitoring of transformers that are often in hard-to-access locations.

The solution is already in use. Ganz Intelligent Solutions has delivered three intelligent transformer units with a combined value of more than HUF 960 million. The Tápiószele factory turned out the units for companies in Sweden, Estonia and Hungary. The immediate production pipeline is charged with orders for a further 18 intelligent transformers from Hungarian and international renewable energy market players.

“When computers first came into our lives, many people were suspicious of these new devices. Today, most of our society cannot even imagine life without smart devices. As with all major changes, the digitalization of transformers also provoked, and still provokes, mixed emotions in many end-users,” says Farkas.

“This, though, can be a barrier to technological innovation. Which is why at Ganz, we try to present the benefits and opportunities of digitalization to our partners objectively, as well as the emerging threats and responses to them,” he notes.

Ganz has recently made a significant strategic decision. Happy with the monitoring system’s development process and market reception, the company will only produce transformers equipped with intelligent monitoring systems in the future.

Dedication Pays Off

“Our first pilot project in Sweden, like the first in any field, required a lot of dedication and commitment. With that said, we are proud that just a few months after delivering the first unit, we had already been approached by end-users who want to order more machines with increased technical content,” Farkas recalls.

“I think this result speaks for itself. In addition to our foreign customers, one of the largest Hungarian energy suppliers has also launched its first digitalization pilot project, in which they will be using the highest possible level of Ganz’s packages,” the brand manager adds.

Ganz’ novelty comes at a time of heightened need for more sustainable solutions: the 27 member states of the European Union are negotiating emission-cutting laws, and the bloc is overhauling its carbon market in a bid to curb climate change.

According to Ganz, its technological development contributes to the enhanced sustainability of the power industry. The company helps reduce costs, material consumption, and carbon emissions through timely failure detection.

Furthermore, its system supports sustainability projects via condition monitoring and data-driven decision-making, ensuring that the transformers that connect renewable energy plants to the grid operate correctly and that the energy produced is not wasted.

On top of this, Ganz has expressed its commitment to upgrading its factory in Tápiószele to meet sustainability standards.

“As one of the key players in the energy industry, specifically the transformer market, our company’s explicit goal, with the launch of Intelligent Solutions, with the intelligent transformers already manufactured and installed, and with the sustainable operation of our company, is to contribute to the green revolution in the electricity industry and to make the transformer market more efficient,” Jan Prins, managing director of the company, tells the BBJ.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of March 24, 2023.

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