Image: Alectris.

Alectris has launched a new global control centre offering remote asset management for solar sites, citing the need for O&M to become more modular.

This modular approach is central to the control centre, with Alectris offering a modular service spanning simple monitoring to services such as troubleshooting and preventative maintenance management. The customer is able to select the level of service required, something which the company said is unique to the industry.

Alectris CEO Vassilis Papaeconomou lauded the control centre as a “world first” due to it operating 7 days a week, 365 days a year in all time zones, with the centre itself located in Cyprus so as to be in the middle of the West and East.

A key feature of the control centre is the ability for Alectris to use its clients’ own monitoring solutions – with its main clients being investors and IPPs – whilst still managing all operations in its ACTIS ERP platform, enabling it to centralise data into a single platform. This, the company said, makes reporting more efficient and accurate in comparison to other O&M providers, which often use a variety of platforms, making it “cumbersome and inefficient”.

Subcontractors and field technicians also have access to this platform through workorders, which are received digitally, allowing the process to be paperless, accurate and accountable.

Papaeconomou explained to Solar Power Portal that Alectris advises O&M managers and field technicians on possible root causes of troubles and the ways to resolve them, which can be done due to the control centre being manned by engineers that have been trained specifically on solar.

“I do see that O&M will need to be structured in a modular way,” Papaeconomou said. “Up until now O&M was most of the time an all-inclusive contract. Having a modular service allows customers to utilise internal resources to the maximum extent and outsource only part of the services that companies are not willing or able to do/invest in.”

It also offers scalability, as companies of a smaller size “would rather outsource most of the O&M services” but as they grow they have the flexibility to gradually insource several activities and keep outsourced “only the ones that make sense”.

Papaeconomou went on to say that investors, IPPs and asset management providers have two options – to hire additional technical personnel or to outsource to a company like Alectris. The benefits to the latter include flexibility, transparency, eliminating the need to increase their inhouse team with the implications and costs that come alongside this and the benefits associated with having an independent body managing and monitoring the activities of their subcontractors and reporting back.

In general, Alectris is seeing a “greater focus and gravitas on asset management and the asset management role” amongst its customers, particularly in areas such as Europe and the USA, with this including the management or overseeing of the technical and field operations amongst other responsibilities.

The full list of services its new control centre offers includes reacting to alerts and faults to guarantee safe and compliant operations, managing contractual restrictions, verifying the correct operation of plants, acting proactively as first response operator, coordinating emergency response, operations, and maintenance activities, planning and executing preventative maintenance and preparing operational monthly, quarterly, and yearly reports.

The control centre completed its soft launch testing during October and is now fully live.