Innovation and emerging new technologies and services in the energy sector are offering ground for companies to reinvent themselves at the service of the business and consumer sphere.
Schneider Electric is a global pioneer in management, automation, hardware, software and service solutions for the energy sector, with focus on renewable energy. The company turned 70 in Brazil in 2017, a time in which it has become the leader of its type of industry in the country.
Business Chief Latin America had the pleasure to speak with two key representatives of Schneider Electric’s Brazilian operation, Cristiano dos Anjos (Vice President of Industry Business) and Paulo de Tarso Gomes (Vice President of Global Supply Chain), with the contribution of Flavia Goldenberg (External Communications Manager at Schneider Electric South America) about the innovation process that drive the company and also the great impact this has on global sustainability.
Sustainability at the core of the company
Schneider Electric Brazil operates in four different markets: buildings (both commercial and residential), data centres, infrastructure and industries.
As Dos Anjos explains, “it is a priority for us that resources are available, that products are arriving on time and that they are well manufactured. We make sure the resources are being used in an appropriate way, in the most efficient way.”
He continues: “Everything we do as a company is always related to sustainability. What we do in terms of technology, in terms of supply chain, in terms of what we are offering to our customers… is the way to make sure that the world will be better. Again, our theme is Life Is On”
Flavia explains: “At Schneider Electric we are proud to help our clients rethink and reinvent their processes in a move that impacts society and secures the future of the next generations. We develop products and services that, in short, enable companies to produce more with less. This is how our partners strengthen their sustainable performance and strengthen their business.”
It is due to this commitment to sustainability that Schneider Electric Brazil has been working with the United Nations Global Compact since 2002, incorporating since 2015 the entity’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (ODS) and 169 goals set for 2030.
De Tarso Gomes explains: “We are a big under-signer and supporter of the United Nations Program for Sustainability, with all the 17 goals and initiatives that they have. We are always trying to upgrade our processes, our products and our tools and the services that we provide to our customers. We really try to walk the talk regarding sustainability.”
The EcoStruxure architecture
EcoStruxure is Schneider Electric’s IoT-enabled architecture and platform for its customers, offering connectivity, apps, analytics and services on power, IT, building, machine, plants and grids. The architecture taps into digitalisation by offering connectivity of OT solutions with the latest IT technology, using the Internet of Things as a channel. Again, with efficiency, added value and sustainability as a core principle.
Digitalisation is applied to the company’s processes, enhancing proficiency and sustainability. As De Tarso explains: “Our EcoStruxure platform provides very nice opportunities to support our plants with totally connected IoT solutions, use of augmented reality in the shop floor, intensive development and use of big data and data analytics in our planning. All of that is coupled with strict control of our use of natural resources such as water and electrical energy, controlling at the same time our CO2 emissions”.
Schneider Electric Brazil uses the products and services it sells and sells the products and services it uses, propelling innovation within and outside the company.
Digitalising, controlling and connecting
Technology and digitalisation are the backbone on which Schneider Electric Brazil’s operates, with restless research and development strategies on innovation for products and services.
Dos Anjos explais: “We connect our customer’s equipment, processes and buildings with specific hardware, technology and software. On top of that, we implement a digital layer: we use augmented reality, artificial intelligence and analytics to help making more with the assets. This helps finding new value, which can be a new business model or a new find. With big data, we help our customers to extract new information that was not in front of their eyes.
“Digitalisation can bring this to you. Without connected machines, processes, buildings and systems, we would never reach this level and it is exactly what we are doing for our customers,” he concludes.
Following its moto, Schneider Electric Brazil implements innovation in its own operations and supply chain processes. As De Tarso points out: “Our Global Supply Chain teams are totally aligned with Schneider’s offers of technological advances in the areas of process management, connectivity solutions and cybersecurity of all that we process.
“We make strong efforts to continuously enhance our knowledge and use of data analytics and big data and we make use of interconnecting our processes and tools in the shop floor of our plants and distribution centres through IoT solutions. We have been progressing in the use of additive technology (3D printing) too, not only to make prototypes, but even to produce some tools of internal use. And the types of products and solutions we use in our shop floors are the ones that are part of our EcoStruxure platform.
“At the same time, in the global supply chain we continue to look ahead in the market to foresee potential use of emerging technologies and solutions brought by pioneer companies, startups, as well as internal solutions of our teams. We have a dedicated team that is always looking for them, considering them, analysing them and probing them, prior to any launch into production use,” he concludes.
Empowering the renewable energy sector
Undoubtedly, this mindset and its outcome is impacting the renewable energy sector in a new and completely different way, transforming it.
Dos Anjos has a clear vision on this: “Renewable energy will become cheaper. I cannot tell you when it will be cheaper than fossil but it will come for sure and soon. For many reasons, but one of them is because we need to decentralise energy generation.”
“We will need more energy as cities are growing with increased density. We are expecting more than 2.5bn people living in cities in the next 25 years with increasing energy demands and we do not have that generation power. On the other hand, pollution is not sustainable.”
“Once energy is decentralised we will need a much smarter system to connect it, to make energy safe and reliable everywhere. Digitalisation will play a really important role to make sure that energy will be everywhere for everyone. There are a lot of things that are moving on this direction, renewable energy is the future”.
He concludes with a final thought: “This is what we are doing, making the world much more sustainable through digitalisation.”