A Vine Time For Tomato Growers

Prominent Growers Association, a tomato greenhouse growers collective in the Netherlands, said it has achieved operational benefits by installing GE’s Asset Performance Management (APM) software to remotely monitor 50 cogeneration plants, which are providing reliable on-site power and heat to the group’s 40 high-tech greenhouses.

Prominent announced its findings at the GE Minds + Machines Europe 2016 conference in Paris. The event, hosted by GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt, gathered industry leaders from pan-European industrial companies, European industrial thought leaders and executives from GE businesses for a day-long forum to focus on the digital transformation of industry.

Prominent’s pilot project demonstrated how industrial operators can use APM to increase the performance of their on-site cogeneration plants by detecting potential issues with the engines—many of which can be addressed remotely. The group’s member greenhouses operate a total of 50 GE-supplied Jenbacher gas engines used to generate reliable power, heat and CO2 at 40 greenhouse facilities.

“By using GE’s Asset Performance Management software, we are already seeing the enhanced operating performance of our Jenbacher gas engine fleet,” said Ferdi van Elswijk, energy manager for Prominent Growers Association and founder of the Prominent Greenhouse Academy in the Netherlands. “APM gives us greater real-time visibility of the condition of our Jenbacher cogeneration units to help ensure their availability, which allows us to meet our crop production targets and be more globally competitive. Plus, it can help us manage peaking power generation when the feed-in tariff is high.”

APM is powered by Predix, GE’s cloud-based Industrial Internet platform.

“With our next-generation Asset Performance Management solution, Prominent is demonstrating how industrial operators can utilize the latest in digital technologies to remotely monitor the performance and condition of their CHP plants in order to rise the operation to new levels of reliability, availability and operating performance,” said Carlos Lange, president of GE Power’s Distributed Power business. “Prominent’s APM project further strengthens the association’s technology leadership role in the global horticultural sector.”

Prominent consists of 26 members with 40 greenhouse facilities that supply 20% of the country’s vine tomatoes. To meet their on-site power, heating, CO2 and artificial lighting needs, Prominent’s members utilize combined heat and power (CHP) systems that produce a total of more than 150 MW. A majority of this power (up to 131 MW) is supplied by the 50 Jenbacher gas engine CHP units.

If Prominent’s APM system detects an anomaly in one of its 50 cogeneration units, GE’s Quick Response Center (QRC) in the Netherlands then reviews data trends and engine messages and systematically validates the probable root cause of the issue. The QRC may then deploy field service experts to perform corrective actions to the equipment. However, in 50% of cases, engines can be reset remotely, eliminating travel time and expenses.

The APM software demonstration project builds on Prominent’s decades-long history of collaborating with GE in deploying advanced CHP and CO2 fertilization technologies to its members to improve their position in Europe’s horticultural sector.

GE’s Distributed Power operates a center of excellence (CoE) in the Netherlands for all commercial greenhouse applications globally. Here, GE developed its CO fertilization system for commercial greenhouses. This system captures CO2 from engine exhaust and recycles the greenhouse gas as a fertilizer, enabling growers to boost their crop production. GE’s QRC operation is co-located with the greenhouse applications CoE.

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