In 2017, AEP’s Generation business unit developed the concept for an Innovation Blitz, a cross-functional, three-hour event encouraging employees to bring their best ideas forward around a pre-determined innovative topic or technology. Two Generation Innovation Blitz events were held in 2017 on the topics of mitigating power plant wastewater streams and using augmented/ virtual reality. Participants came together from multiple AEP business units to capture ideas to support the generating fleet, enhance the customer experience and help secure our vision as the energy company of the future. The theory behind these events is that when we address challenges in an open and collaborative setting, our ideas grow exponentially.
In 2017, AEP’s Generation business unit developed the concept for an Innovation Blitz, a cross-functional, three-hour event encouraging employees to bring their best ideas forward around a pre-determined innovative topic or technology.
Over 100 ideas were generated during the two events, and two of those ideas are being further developed for potential use cases. The first centered on an idea that selenium, a heavy metal found in flue gas from coal combustion, may be more easily separated from the flue gas stream with a drop in flue gas temperature. To learn more, the Generation team began a research project to validate this theory; if it works, it could lead to more cost-effective selenium removal options.
The second idea focused on using an augmented reality (AR) application (app) using GPS capable of displaying real-time power plant equipment information on a mobile device. The idea was that an employee could point their device at the equipment and gather the data they need instantaneously. This could be used to support equipment troubleshooting, operations and maintenance. Working with IT and a third-party mobile app developer, the team created an AR app that is now in limited use at the Mountaineer Plant in West Virginia.
The value already gained from our efforts in 2017 is the catalyst for plans to host additional Innovation Blitz events in 2018.