Caruna utilises the latest 3D laser technology in electricity network inspections 

A helicopter takes off carrying the pilot, 3D laser sensors and a high resolution camera. During the flight, the sensors survey the terrain: data about the condition of the electricity network and the location of trees is transferred via the helicopter’s equipment to the inspector’s terminal.

You might think this sounds like some hypothetical situation in the future but it is a routine inspection of the electricity network. And thank goodness it is because without a high resolution camera and 3D laser, pinpointing faults would be considerably slower.

Although the majority of the network lies underground, overhead lines still have to be inspected regularly. Particular attention is paid to the trees growing near these lines because a gale or heavy snowfall could cause them to fall onto the line. This could then result in a power cut affecting thousands of homes.

“Regular inspections to check the condition of the lines are a part of Caruna’s programme to improve the electricity network’s reliability of operations. Aerial surveys play an important role in all our activities because they help us to direct our investments where they are most needed,” says Sauli  Antila, Head of Network Development at Caruna.

With laser modelling it is possible to estimate the growth direction of the trees a decade from now, which helps to prevent faults and disturbances in electricity supply. Previously, inspections to check the condition of electricity networks was carried out through a visual examination of photographs. Now network planning is a lot quicker because the analysis of the pictures stored can be automated using the sensor data.

Helicopters are also used when thinning trees, although for safety reasons there is also an electrician on the ground. Many landowners may already have received a notice about tree thinning performed by helicopter. Often just the simple act of removing branches stretching across the electric lines is enough to prevent power cuts caused by storms.

Aerial surveys are often also carried out after a storm to find the fault locations in the network as quickly as possible and to prevent further faults. You will probably continue to see helicopters performing such tasks over the next few years, although there is already talk about utilising drones.

Caruna and Tampere Adult Education Centre TAKK bring new energy into designing electricity networks

The work of an electricity network designer requires extensive knowledge, ranging from electrical dimensioning to how to interact with landowners. It is a good idea to update your professional skills from time to time, and that is why Caruna has joined forces with the Tampere Adult Education Centre TAKK to organise further training for electricity network designers.

Provided since 2015, this popular continuing professional training has inspired a total of 226 professionals to grow their expertise. Based on the feedback from participants, contractors and the organisers of the training, there is a demand and need for further studies in this field.

“It has been great to collaborate with Caruna on this training and I hope this study programme continues to run for several years more. As an educator, this training has given me the opportunity to brush up my own skills in real time alongside the changes occurring in Caruna’s operations. The atmosphere in the classroom has been open and interactive. All in all, this is simply fantastic!” says educator Jaana Harju from the Tampere Adult Education Centre.

The four-day training is directed specifically for new designers just beginning their careers, but content-wise it is well suited also for more experienced professionals looking for a refresher course and for designers participating in Caruna’s projects for the first time. Applications are accepted twice a year.

This intensive course examines the design and planning principles of Caruna projects, electrical dimensioning, the positioning of the electricity network in the terrain and technical equipment, such as pad-mounted secondary substations. The course ends with an exam, and those who pass it receive a Caruna electricity network designer certificate. The educators on the course are Jaana Harju from TAKK, Caruna’s own experts, and guest educators Pepe Vahlberg from the ELY Centre and Airi Kulmala from the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK).

In addition to the Tampere Adult Education Centre, Caruna has boosted its cooperation with the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK). This collaboration has generated parts of the course content, such as the section on interacting with landowners. The designers also learn more about what effects the placing of a cable in a field has on farming subsidies and why it is important to keep landowners up to date about work progress.

“Our collaboration with TAKK and MTK is excellent and we will continue to organise this course if there is as much interest in it as there has been,” promises Kalle Sato who acts as the person responsible for this training at Caruna’s end.

Caruna awards contractors for work to promote occupational safety 

Every year, Caruna gives prizes for contractors who have distinguished themselves by promoting occupational safety. In 2017, the jury focused on subcontractors’ efforts to make the work site a safer place. The award in the company category went to Lounais-Suomen Verkonrakennus Oy, which has acted as Netel Oy’s subcontractor for Caruna’s network building project.

“Safety is something we at Caruna pay a great deal of attention to, right up to top management. This seems to be the case also at Lounais Suomen Verkonrakennus. During Caruna’s work site inspections, we have noticed the company’s broad experience, considerable expertise, their employees’ skills and their appropriate plant and machinery,” says Caruna’s CEO Tomi Yli-Kyyny.

Lounais-Suomen Verkonrakennus has not had a single accident at work. This company of seven is confident that they will be able to keep their exemplary record of zero accidents also in the future.

“For us, occupational safety begins with our employees’ strong professional skills, professional pride and excellent work ethic. Occupational safety also requires continuous studying and development. If our employees discover a fault in safety on the field, they inform us of it immediately and we start looking for solutions right away,” says Janne Syväjärvi, one of the owners of Lounais-Suomen Verkonrakennus.

In addition to the company category, there is a personal category and in 2017 Caruna awarded Robert Norrgård from Netel and Juha Kaltiokumpu from Voimatel.

Manager of field work, Robert Norrgård, was applauded for his uncompromising attitude to occupational safety. His solid expertise in field work and safety at work enable him to make sure that everyone pays attention to safety issues, including subcontractors. Norrgård has also developed a practice whereby contractors check each other’s work, which has noticeably reduced deficiencies in work site safety.

Project manager for Voimatel in Northern Finland, Kaltiokumpu notifies any safety deviations quickly and investigates them thoroughly. Kaltiokumpu also provides induction and guidance for the staff at his own work sites. Caruna applauds his exemplary work.

“Congratulations to the winners of the safety award for work well done! I hope that their example will encourage others to pay attention to occupational safety too. We value our every employee and contractor and want to see everyone go home in good health at the end of the day,” says Sustainability Manager Piia Häkkinen from Caruna.

Seeking solutions to safety challenges in the HSE network 

Although safety at Caruna work sites is improving constantly, the beginning of 2017 brought bleak figures to the statistics of occupational accidents: the first three months of the year saw as many serious contractor injuries as the whole of 2016.

Caruna decided to step in and founded the HSE network for contractors (Health, Safety and the Environment) in order to find solutions for the safety challenges in the sector. Its goal is to improve safety at work by standardising occupational safety practices and streamlining the flow of information at work sites. The network also works to increase awareness of environmental issues. About a dozen contractor representatives joined the network straight away.

The network shares good practices for safe cable installations and dismantling, for example. Based on the feedback received, there has been a clear need for this kind of a new form of cooperation.

“Starting the HSE network was a superb idea for improving occupational safety. Contractors have found that through this network the occupational safety requirements and goals set by Caruna have become clearer to them. It is not always necessary to reinvent the wheel; instead, you can adopt methods that others have tested and found useful. An example of this is the use of electrical tools in occupational safety inspections,” says HSEQ Manager Juhani Kamila from Eltel Networks Oy.

Until now, the HSE network has worked on a safety inspection method for employees to check their own work and standardised the practices of reporting safety deviations. Previous accidents and their causes have been examined together and corrective measures to prevent them from happening again have been agreed upon. Faster flow of information and consistent modes of operation have also facilitated work with subcontractors.

“We have improved and clarified both Caruna’s and our partners’ modes of operation and instructions. These have helped to improve turnaround times at work sites because different work sites have different safety challenges. Now we always apply the best possible modes of operation for the safety of the site in question,” Project Manager Timo Rantala from TLT Connection Oy explains.

The whole network agrees that the best way to improve occupational safety is to do it together.

“We want to be involved in creating a new occupational safety culture for the entire sector. I hope that, in the future, subcontractors will also join the network,” says Network Service Manager Hannu Hiltunen from Rejlers Oy.

Chat team completes the phone service  

When trees fall onto electric lines due to a crown snow-load or autumn storm, it means a busy day for Caruna’s customer service personnel. From the beginning of 2017, Caruna’s Customer Service department has been boosted by a chat team of four who provide assistance on Facebook and Twitter, as well as on the chat facility on Caruna’s website.

“Speed is an advantage online and that is what our customers expect from us. You can file a fault report in the chat service or on our social media sites in the middle of the day in between meetings without having to arrange a quiet moment for a phone call,” says Customer Services Manager Maarit Laiho.

Many visitors to the Caruna website may have noticed the turquoise chat window that opens automatically in your browser when you are looking for contact information. The purpose of this service is to make it as easy as possible for you to contact us.

In the chat service, you can ask about an invoice or report a problem in the electricity supply just like in the more traditional phone service. We will do our best to take care of your issue at once and if the matter requires further investigation, we can agree together on the best time to contact you and whether you prefer to be contacted by email or phone. Sending messages in the chat is safe and no details about the conversation are stored by the browser.

Customers have welcomed the new chat service with open arms. Although the majority of customers still contact us by phone, Caruna receives roughly a thousand messages a month via the chat facility.

This new channel has also shaped the way our customer service professionals work. More and more questions are asked about saving energy and about the customer’s possibility of producing energy for their own use.

“It’s satisfying to see that customers trust our expertise. In this job, you feel like you have a thousand skills: first I help someone with an urgent fault report and then I advise someone else on how to reduce their electricity bill. At best, you can have three or four conversations going on at the same time. So yes, my days in the chat customer service just fly by,” expert Tiia Turunen laughs.

Together with Caruna’s communications team, the chat team shares information about interruptions in electricity supply and the progress being made with repairs in the social media. Serving customers through chat requires the seamless cooperation of communications and customer service, and to ensure this, Caruna organises regular training.

“Facebook brings additional challenges to our work because communications there are public and anyone posting a question expects an answer quickly. You have to be able to articulate your thoughts clearly even when you’re very busy. The advantage is that updates and comments in the social media are seen by hundreds or thousands of people, so we can serve more customers at once,” Maarit Laiho explains.

Expectations on the level of customer service given and received grow continuously. That is why Caruna provides its customer service team with regular training and also recruits new people with specific skills when needed. One thing is for sure: Caruna will stay online.

High energy and the joy of exercise on the ice  

A lot of people play ice hockey in a target-oriented way, but you can also play it just for fun with the Easy Hockey programme.  This is a low-threshold sports programme for children and teenagers developed by the Finnish Ice Hockey Association, and Caruna has sponsored it since 2016. The aim of this collaboration is to encourage children and teenagers to do sports and exercise and also to try different sports.

“The joy of exercise belongs to everyone. When we started this cooperation with the Ice Hockey Association we had a burning desire to make ice hockey as a hobby available to every child and teenager, instead of supporting only national teams and elite sports,” says Henna Tuominen, Head of Communications at Caruna.

Ice hockey is one of the most popular sports in Finland, but not everyone wants to compete or follow a strict training or tournament schedule.

“The Easy Hockey programme is designed for over 8-year-old children and teenagers who like to play ice hockey but don’t have the time or opportunity to attend training sessions several times a week,” says Youth Hockey and Club Operations Director Turkka Tervomaa from the Finnish Ice Hockey Association.

In two years, Easy Hockey has inspired a great number of children and young people from many sports clubs to join in this low-threshold hobby. The activities are run by local ice hockey clubs with the support of the Finnish Ice Hockey Association.

In training sessions, everyone is on the ice and the players play a full-rink game or a game covering a section of the rink almost throughout the session. No previous experience of the game is required, and the players only need ice skates, a neck guard, a hockey stick and an ice hockey helmet with grid. Easy Hockey is suitable for both girls and boys.

“I want to send a huge thank you to our partner Caruna for their support in making this feel-good ice hockey project available to young people all over Finland. I’m thrilled that together we can offer a new way to play the game as a hobby and to give more and more people the opportunity to participate in the activities of ice hockey clubs throughout the country,” Turkka Tervomaa says.

Work rotation took Tytti Paananen to Äänekosken Energia as manager of electrical works 

A new episode in Tytti Paananen’s life and career began with a surprise phone call. She was working for Caruna in Espoo as a network service expert when her former supervisor from Äänekosken Energia, where she had had a summer job earlier, contacted her and offered her the temporary replacement post of the manager of electrical works.

Having grown up in Äänekoski, Paananen saw many benefits in the offer: she would gain supervisor experience at Äänekosken Energia and learn more about the building and maintenance of electricity networks.

“I had been working as a network service expert for some time and so the offer of something new and exciting was well worth considering. On the other hand, I really enjoye working at Caruna and didn’t want to give up my job entirely. In the end, I decided to ask my supervisor for unpaid leave for the duration of this temporary post.”

Her supervisor and Caruna’s Human Resources department viewed the proposal favourably and encouraged her to make the career leap, although work rotation outside the company was something new for them too. And so the electrical engineer, who had grown roots in Espoo, packed up her bags and started work at Äänekosken Energia.

It was not just the scenery that changed but her job description too. Paananen was the supervisor of eight electricians and planned the construction of electricity networks and the cabling of electric lines. As a supervisor, she supervised and managed electrical works.

“I got quicker at making decisions and my confidence grew during the work rotation without my even noticing. In Äänekoski, I learned about and got to know electricity work sites and various equipment on site. Now I find it easier to understand the questions people ask us at the Caruna network service centre. It also feels good to share what I learned during my work rotation with others,” Tytti Paananen says.

At Caruna, Paananen’s workdays are filled with communications with electrical designers and contractors. The practical experience she gained at cabling work sites gave her a new perspective on her duties at Caruna.

“In a small company, everyone carries more responsibility and job descriptions are necessarily broader, so in that sense I learned a great deal from work rotation. I now see the whole picture more clearly. My role is clearer to me than before and I’m better able to take the viewpoints of different departments into account,” Paananen explains.

At Caruna, her colleagues too have noticed Paananen’s increased professional skills.

“I warmly recommend work rotation for everyone whose work and situation in life allows it. At least I encourage you to take the bold step of finding out if work rotation is possible in your case. Caruna took an open-minded view of my suggestion, and I feel that my skills and expertise are valued more than ever now,” Paananen concludes.

Caruna’s innovation competition challenged 14–16-year-old teenagers to envision the future of the energy sector  

How will energy be used and generated a hundred years from now? Is renewable energy the answer to future challenges in energy production, or will personal energy consumption be measured more and more accurately?

Caruna invited 14–16-year-old teenagers to envision the future of the energy sector in an innovation competition organised in honour of Finland’s centenary celebration. The consequent teenagers’ think tank generated videos, pieces of writing, paintings and board games, poems and even a rap song about energy. Based on these creative and inspiring works, renewable natural resources, eco-friendliness and new technologies still in development will be major assets in future energy production.

Ida Mehtätalo and Neemi Sinko from the Joensuu Steiner school reflected on their own role as energy consumers in a bold and broadminded way. Their video examines the causes behind climate change and gives practical tips for energy saving.

“The students’ entries we received display admirable open-mindedness and creativity which we adults can learn a lot from. The teenagers who took part in the competition are clearly very well informed about energy matters and demand ecological solutions for the growing energy requirements of today’s society. The solutions and ideas they have presented offer us great inspiration as we continue to develop our business operations in line with our new strategy,” says Head of Communications Henna Tuominen from Caruna.

The aim in organising this competition was to increase environmental and energy consciousness and spread the feel-good energy in Caruna’s network area. A total of 38 schools from all over Finland participated in the contest, from Espoo to Oulu and from Kurikka to Joensuu. None of the finalists left empty-handed, as the winner of every school was rewarded with a prize of 100 euros.

“I want to thank Caruna for making a contest like this possible. It’s just fantastic to see the achievements and innovations students are capable of. It was invigorating for us teachers too to see the results. Although choosing the winner among numerous superb works was anything but easy,” says physics and chemistry teacher Suvi-Päivi Malvikko from Harjunrinne upper level comprehensive school in Riihimäki.

ISO 55001 certificate awarded to Caruna in recognition of its quality work in managing its electricity network

In the spring of 2017, representatives of the auditing company Lloyd’s Register could be seen working at Caruna’s head office in Leppävaara, Espoo, as well as at its contractors’ work sites within the company’s network area. These visits were a part of the auditing for the ISO 55001 certification, which Caruna decided to pursue in March 2016.  This number sequence stands for the international standard for asset management, which provides the steps for the development of business activities in an open and sustainable way.

As an electricity distribution company, Caruna contributes to the smooth functioning of the society and people’s everyday lives.

“In practice, asset management begins with the design of the electricity network and ends with its demolition and renovation, which is a time span of 40–60 years. Customers, the society and investors have to be able to trust that the electricity networks are being managed responsibly and for the benefit of the whole society throughout their life cycle,” says Quality Manager of Asset Management Jukka Haakana, who also heads the certification project.

Trust is vital, and Caruna has made a commitment to the network development and construction project, which is worth two billion euros and will take a decade to complete. Its goal is to improve the reliability of electricity supply for Caruna’s customers.

Caruna has previously been awarded the environmental management system certificate ISO 14001:2004 and the occupational health and safety management system certificate OHSAS 18001:2007. Asset management certification was the next logical step.

“We wanted to find out how our own management processes and operations would fare in an international assessment and to make absolutely sure our operations are of the highest quality. The last few years have been a time of great changes for us, so it’s a very healthy thing to do to take a moment to assess how we’re doing. When the initial charting looked promising we decided to kick off the auditing process,” Haakana continues.

In the official, two-stage auditing process that took almost three weeks, the representatives of Lloyd’s Register observed and examined Caruna’s activities, from the implementation of its strategy to the procedures of its subcontractors. They met and interviewed members of the Management Team and Caruna’s experts and evaluated the company’s operations, such as processes, the data relating to its assets and its ICT systems. They also assessed documents, such as policies, instructions and guidelines on various subjects.

The process that started with an initial charting culminated in the official certificate, which was granted to Caruna in June 2017.

“We wanted to act as openly and transparently as possible throughout the process. Our philosophy was to boldly set our unfinished matters on the table for all to see. This ensured that we got all that we could out of the assessment. We answered any questions that came up in the inspections openly and quickly and, whenever necessary, adjusted our operations based on the feedback we received,” Haakana explains.

The certification steering and project group included representatives from all areas of business. The entire process took less than a year altogether, which is an excellent achievement by both national and international standards.

“We are very proud of having carried out the certification process almost entirely without external assistance. It was also rewarding to be recognised for our persevering work. This just shows that our management systems were well set up even before the official recognition. Of course, receiving this certificate is a sign of the high quality of our work both in the development and maintenance of our electricity networks and in our other activities,” Haakana says.

The fundamental principle of the ISO 55001 certificate is that operations can be assessed annually. The first such evaluation has already taken place and the certificate is still hanging on the same wall where it was placed in June.

“This is not the end of our development work by any means. The certificate is a great incentive that pushes us to keep the bar where it should be: as high as possible,” Haakana adds.